By: Mark Maloney
SEC Digital Network
LONDON - The century race of the century took less than 10 seconds, as we knew it would.
The unknown was who would win Sunday’s 100-meter finals at the Summer Olympic Games.
Would it be Usain Bolt, the world record-holder?
How about Yohan Blake, the man who beat Bolt at both 100 and 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic Trials?
Could the three entrants out of Southeastern Conference schools -- Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Richard Thompson -- pull an upset?
The answer at London’s Olympic Stadium turned out to be Bolt, dropping his four-year-old Olympic record from 9.69 seconds to 9.63.
"I was slightly worried about my start. I slipped a little in the blocks," Bolt said. "I don’t have the best reactions, but I secured it and that’s the key."
Then came Blake, matching his personal best of 9.75.
Gatlin (Tennessee 2001) ran a personal-best 9.79 to earn the bronze medal.
"It was pretty good," Gatlin said. "I had guys coming up on my left, so I had to really fight for it."
Guys starting with Gay (Arkansas 2004), the American record-holder, who ran a season-best 9.80 for fourth place.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Thompson (LSU 2008) placed seventh in 9.98.
Gay, whose 2008 challenge of Bolt blew up when he tore his hamstring in the U.S. Olympic Trials 200-meter trials, battled back from hip surgery last year.
That he was finally healthy, yet unable to claim an Olympic medal left him choking back tears.
"I gave it my best. I don’t understand why, but -- shoot!" said Gay, who will turn 30 on Thursday. "I gave it my best. There ain’t nothing else I could do. I wouldn’t do anything over. Maybe I dipped (for the finish line) early but, that’s all I had."
"It felt good -- the start, confidence. I just came up short."
Yet another SEC runner, Trinidad’s Rondel Sorrillo (Kentucky 2011) made it to Sunday’s semifinals before being eliminated in 10.31.
Gatlin ran 9.82 in the semifinals, while Gay turned in a 9.90.
Other SEC highlights from Sunday’s track follow.
* DeeDee Trotter (Tennessee 2005) bagged a bronze medal in the women’s 400 meters. U.S. teammate Sanya Richards-Ross won in 49.55, followed by Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu in 49.70. Trotter finished in a season-best 49.72, edging world champion Amantie Montsho of Botswana by three-hundredths of a second.
Trotter ran with a glitter design on her face.
"It’s my motivation," she said. "My friends back home call me a warrior. In fact, I’m a butterfly-faced warrior."
* In the men’s 400 semifinals, Tony McQuay (Florida 2013) placed fourth in his heat and did not advance, timed in 45.31.
Heat winner Kirani James (Alabama, 2011) of Grenada not only advanced in 44.59, he scored a memorabilia coupe moments after crossing the finish line.
He quickly traded his jersey nameplate for that of South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius — The Blade Runner, who became the first man to compete in an Olympics on prosthetic legs.
"He’s just special for our sport in general. It takes a lot of confidence and a lot of courage for him to run," James said. "Also, he’s a great person. A very God-fearing person, a very great individual. I think we should see him like that and nothing else."
Pistorius finished last in the eight-man heat, timed in 46.54, and did not qualify for the finals.
* In the first round of the women’s 400-meter hurdles, Lashinda Demus (South Carolina 2005) breezed through by winning her heat in 54.60. That ranked fifth overall.
* The men’s hammer throw gold went to Hungary’s Krisztian Pars at 264-4 1/2.
Kibwe Johnson, who began his career at Georgia before finishing at Ashland in Ohio, placed ninth at 245-10 1/2.