Former Razorbacks Tyson Gay and Wallace Spearmon will have their chance to run for the 200-meter world championship after they reached the final round at the IAAF World Championships. The pair both advanced through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Wednesday despite cold temperatures and a light rain. They will now prepare for the finals on Thursday at 2:05 p.m. CT.
“They’re running very well and looking good,” Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said. “They’re on top of their game right now and the weather isn’t affecting them as much as it is other people. Everything we planned to do has gone perfectly and now they’ve put themselves in a position to win a medal.”
In the first quarterfinal heat Spearmon was assigned to lane two and finished second with a time of 20.91. Germany’s Tobias Unger also recorded a time of 20.91 for the win. Gay won the next heat while running out of lane one with a clocking of 20.64.
In the semifinals Gay went on to win his heat again from lane six, beating U.S. Olympic and World 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin. Gay crossed the line with a time of 20.27, while Gatlin posted a 20.47.
“The race was great,” Gay said. “I had the gold medalist in my race and I knew he was going to give me a tough race. What I tried to do was take the curve hard, get the lead and relax. It’s great (to have four in the finals). America is always going to bring its “A” game.”
In the other semifinal heat Spearmon eased up from the third lane and came in second with a time of 20.49, behind fellow American and defending World Champion John Capel (20.45).
“I heard I came out of the blocks pretty bad, but besides that I felt pretty good,” Spearmon said. “I’ll be ready for tomorrow. As long as four of us show up, something good can happen.”
Americans will comprise half of the final field and between the four of them they recorded the semifinal’s fastest times. For Spearmon and Gay this will be their first final at a major international championship event and they are considered strong contenders in lanes three and five, respectively, as they hold the world’s top two fastest times in 2005. Spearmon turned in a 19.89 at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix, while Gay owns a 19.93 from the NCAA Championships.
If either earn a first-place finish it would mark the first time a former UA athlete has claimed the top spot at a world championship meet since Mike Conley captured gold in the triple jump at the 1993 World Outdoor Championships. The last Arkansas athlete to garner a top-three showing at a world outdoor meet was in 1997 when Erick Walder was given the silver medal in the long jump.