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Gay or not, Bolt couldn't have been stopped

27 August 2008

Former World and Olympic champion Linford Christie says double Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt would have still won the sprint double even if American champion Tyson Gay had been fully fit.

Gay won the sprint double at the World Championships in Osaka, last year but an injury at the United States trials in early July sidelined him and forced him to enter the Olympics without a single competitive race under his belt, and with lingering questions over his fitness.

"Gay is a good athlete and he would have pushed Bolt hard," said Christie, the only man to have held the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth 100m titles simultaneously.

"But I don't think he would have beaten him, considering what Bolt achieved with such an ease. He was on a different planet altogether."

Before his injury, Gay clocked 9.77 seconds and a wind-aided 9.68 seconds at the US trials, and would have been one of the favourites heading into the Olympics.

However, looking way off his best, Gay bowed out in the semi-finals of the 100 metres. He had earlier failed to qualify for the 200 metres after pulling up in the event at the US trials.

Christie, a Jamaica-born, British sprinter, said he was delighted with Bolt's achievements at the Olympic Games which ended last weekend.

"I know Bolt since the age of 15 and at first look it struck me he is one for the future. He has the charisma to take athletics to a new level," the now retired track star said.

He said the 22-year-old, who finished the Games with three gold medals and three world records, "has given a fresh lease of life for athletics" and backed him to becoming one of the greatest sprinters.

"It's not easy for a junior to run 200 metres under 20 seconds but he managed to achieve this feat. If not for injuries, he would have blossomed a bit earlier, but the time away has in fact helped him," the 48-year old said.

"He is a much better athlete now and is on his way to becoming one of the greatest.

"[Bolt's] arrival has given a fresh lease of life for athletics, which has been under cloud since the doping revelation from some top athletes over the last few years."

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