>> November 22, 2009
Indianapolis, USA - Tyson Gay and Sanya Richards were named winners of the 2009 Jesse Owens Awards by USA Track & Field. This marks the second time in their careers that Gay and Richards have earned this prestigious distinction. Gay initially won the award in 2007, and Richards was the recipient in 2006.
Established in 1981, the Jesse Owens Award is USA Track & Field's highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track and field performers. This year's awards will be presented on Saturday, 5 December at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis, Ind. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2009 Annual Meeting.
Although he suffered from a nagging groin injury that hampered him during the majority of the 2009 outdoor season, Tyson Gay put on an amazing display of sprinting that will not soon be forgotten.
A triple gold medalist at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan, Gay suffered a hamstring injury at the 2008 Olympic Trials that kept him from performing at his best at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Gay leaped back on to the world stage in a major way in 2009 by posting the then third-fastest time ever in the men's 200m with his win at the 30 May Reebok Invitational in New York in 19.58 seconds.
Also last summer, Gay equalled or improved upon his American 100m record a remarkable three times within a three-month time frame. Gay equaled his American record of 9.77 with his 10 July win at the Golden Gala in Rome, running the identical time he first posted at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
In capturing the silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Gay lowered his national record to 9.71 before lowering it again to 9.69 seconds with his commanding win in Shanghai on 20 September. In 2009, Gay posted the second, third and fourth-fastest 100m times in the world that season, and he is currently tied with Jamaica's Usain Bolt for the second-fastest time ever recorded in the men's 100m of 9.69 seconds. He also owns the third-fastest 100m time ever of 9.71. Gay's 200m time of 19.58 from the 2009 Reebok Grand Prix ranks as the fifth-fastest in history.
2005 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Sanya Richards entered the 2009 campaign as the #1 world ranked women's 400m runner by Track & Field News over the last four years. Recognized worldwide as the dominant force in her event, Richards had yet to capture the elusive individual Olympic or World Outdoor Championships title needed to fill a nagging hole in her glittering resume.
The 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist, Richards broke away from Jamaica's Shericka Williams with 70 metres to go and ran by her lonesome the rest of the way to victory, crossing the finish line in the third-fastest time in the world this season of 49.00 seconds. With her victory, Richards joined Jearl Miles (2003, Stuttgart) as the only Americans ever to win the women's 400 meters at a World Outdoor Championships.
Richards, who ran the anchor leg on Team USA's gold medal winning 4x400m relay team (3:17.83, World leader), finished the season with the four fastest women's 400m times in the world this year, and her world-leading time of 48.83 seconds from her win in Brussels, Belgium, earned her a share of the AF Golden League Jackpot for the third time in her career. Richards' performance in Brussels equaled the second-best time ever by an American first posted by National Track & Field Hall of Famer Valerie Brisco-Hooks in winning the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Other finallists for the men's Jesse Owens Award were Christian Cantwell, Kerron Clement, Trey Hardee, Bernard Lagat, LaShawn Merritt and Dwight Phillips. Women's finalists included Jenny Barringer, Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Brittney Reese.