Even before the United States Olympic Trials, Rialto native Damein White called Tyson Gay his track idol. So running in the lane next to him in the quarterfinal heat on Saturday at Hayward Field in Euguene, Ore., had to be a little overwhelming.
But no one could have expected what actually took place. Gay pulled up in the opening few meters of the race and went sprawling to the ground with what was later said to be a severe cramp. The world record holder was down and out. Yes, he still qualified in the 100, but the chance for a double was gone.
White admitted to being a bit distracted and ended up running a 27.96 – way, way off his best of 20.55. That’s a huge difference in a race so short.
White was interviewed by the national media after the race about Gay’s mishap since he was the athlete closest and there was no mention of an injury to him. But the incident may have caused him to lose stride or concentration just enough to prompt his own poor time.
But it’s all a learning experience. At 23, White will probably have another chance at the Olympic Trials. With just three years of experience in the sport, he is a relative rookie.
But he will have a story to tell when he returns home nonetheless.