Wallace Spearmon Jr., and Tyson Gay helped the United States make history at the IAAF World Championships when they were a part of an unprecedented 1-2-3-4 sweep in the 200-meter dash. It was the first time the top four places in an event had been claimed by one country in World Outdoor Championships history.
At the young age of 20, Spearmon captured the silver medal with a time of 20.20 and became the first UA athlete since long jumper Erick Walder in 1997 to earn a spot on the medal stand at the World Championships. Gay finished in fourth place and clocked a time of 20.34 out of lane 5.
“The race was set up well for Wallace and Tyson, but it was a fight down the stretch,” Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said. “A world championship silver medal is hard to come by and I’m very happy for Wallace. It’s also bittersweet at the same time with Tyson getting fourth place. Gatlin got his double gold medal and he’s a tough competitor. We’ll get better and stronger in the fall and try to get him next time.”
Spearmon, a three-time NCAA 200-meter champion and American indoor record holder, was entering the race with the world’s fastest time in 2005 (19.89). The Fayetteville, Ark., native staged a solid race in poor weather conditions that included rain and 54-degree temperatures. Running in lane 3, he was neck and neck with the eventual winner and world 100-meter champion, Justin Gatlin, through 180 meters. It was in the final 20 meters that Gatlin surged ahead to take the tape in a time of 20.04.
“I’m very excited,” Spearmon said. “We are a part of history. I am happy with what I got and now I get to come home with a silver medal. Justin Gatlin is a beast. I’m a few years younger than him, so when he’s done, I’ll have a few more years. I hope to beat his soon, I’m just waiting for my turn.”
Gay, this year’s U.S. runner-up, was nipped at the line by 2003 world champion John Capel who ran a season-best time of 20.31. Gay, who’s top time in 2005 (19.93) was the second-fastest in the world, was also running close with Gatlin after about 160 meters.
“I gave it my all,” Gay said. “I ran the curves like my coach told me to. I think I just got to the end of the race and just had a little bit left in the tank. I tried to stay relaxed, but he (Capel) passed me in the end. I didn’t have anything left. I’m glad I made history (in the American sweep).
“The fact that Wallace and Tyson have been running through a long collegiate year and have been able to keep performing at peak levels is pretty impressive,” Brauman said. “They have handled themselves extremely well. They’ve stepped up to the international competition and not backed down. They have definitely showed they deserve to run at this level.”
Now that the 200 meters are over Gay will now concentrate on running the third leg of America’s 4×100-meter relay. The semifinals are on Friday with the finals following on Saturday. The qualifying flights of the high jump will also take place on Friday with former All-American and Olympic silver medalist Matt Hemingway representing the U.S. The finals of the high jump are scheduled for Aug. 14.