Felix, Gay win 2007 Jesse Owens Awards


Vicky Oddi
Communications Coordinator
USA Track & Field

INDIANAPOLIS - World-champion sprinters Allyson Felix and Tyson Gay on Monday were named winners of the 2007 Jesse Owens Award by USA Track & Field. The 2005 Owens honoree, Felix becomes a two-time Jesse Owens Award winner, while Gay has earned the distinction for the first time in his career.

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 December 1 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2007 Annual Meeting.

"Allyson and Tyson took the sprinting world by storm in 2007," said USATF CEO Craig Masback. "Their youth, humility and grace under tremendous pressure to perform make them great champions who have earned respect from their competitors, the public and the press. We congratulate both of them on their fine seasons."

Felix dominates

Felix dominated the women's 200 meters in 2007, winning every race she entered.

At just 21 years old, Felix became the second woman in history to win three gold medals at a single World Outdoor Championships with her triumphs in Osaka, Japan. She first won the 200m in a personal-best 21.81 seconds. It was the fastest time by a woman since 1999 and was the largest margin of victory in World Outdoor history (.53). She then ran a decisive second leg on the winning 4x100m relay team, which clocked 41.98.

In her final event of the World Championships, Felix ran perhaps the fastest 4x400m relay leg ever by an American woman at a major championship and the fastest by any woman since the 1980s. Again running second leg for Team USA, she clocked a 48.0 split to move Team USA into a comfortable lead that propelled the Americans to a win in 3:18.55. It was the fastest time in the world since Team USA won the 1993 World title in 3:16.71.

Felix ran the three 200m fastest times in the world in 2007 and five of the top eight fastest times by an American, including the 22.34 she ran to win the U.S. Outdoor Championships. She also was a strong contender in the 100 and 400. She set personal records in the 100 (11.01) and the 400 (49.70). During the Indoor season, Felix ran one race, the 300m at the Tyson Invitational, where she set an American best in winning in 36.33.

"It is a privilege to receive an award with such a rich tradition," Felix said. "To be recognized in the company of such great champions is truly an honor."

Gay triply successful

In 2007, Tyson Gay had an historic year, sweeping the 100 and 200 meters at both the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Osaka and the USA Outdoor Championships. He added World Outdoor gold in the 4x100m to become the fourth man in World Championships history to win three gold medals at a single championship. In Osaka, he won his first gold in the 100, blazing to a 9.85 victory to relegate world-record holder Asafa Powell to third. Gay then took down Michael Johnson's 200m meet record, coming from behind to win his second gold medal of the meet in 19.76. He finished his global trifecta by running the third leg on the winning men's 4x100m relay that won a nail-biter of a race in 37.78.

Gay had given notice of his prowess at the U.S. Outdoor Championships, cementing his status as the world's most dominant all-around sprinter with his meet record wins in the 100 (9.84, -.5m/s) and 200 (19.62, -.3m/s) in posting the fastest 100-200 double in history. Gay also came away from the meet with the men's Visa Championship as the top male performer of the Visa Championship Series.

"This is the greatest honor of my career," said Gay. "Jesse Owens is a hero of mine for many reasons, and to have my name linked with his, and with the great athletes who have been honored before me, is humbling. I am very grateful."

Establishing himself as the world's top big-meet, championship runner, Gay won every race he entered in the 100 and 200 in 2007, save for one. He ran five of the seven fastest times by an American in the 100 and three of the four fastest times by an American in the 200, including the 2007 world leader (19.62).

About the Jesse Owens Award

2007 Jesse Owens Award winners were selected in balloting of members of the U.S. track and field media. Other finalists for the men's Jesse Owens Award were Breaux Greer, Reese Hoffa, Bernard Lagat, Brad Walker, Jeremy Wariner and Alan Webb. Women's finalists were Shalane Flanagan, Michelle Perry, Sanya Richards, Jenn Stuczynski and Tiffany Williams.

The permanent commemorative Jesse Owens Award is maintained at USATF National Headquarters, and a replica is provided to each of the winners. Previous winners are Edwin Moses (1981), Carl Lewis (1982 and 1991), Mary Decker (1983), Joan Benoit (1984), Willie Banks (1985), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986 and 1987), Florence Griffith Joyner (1988), Roger Kingdom (1989), Lynn Jennings (1990), Kevin Young (1992), Gail Devers (1993, 1996), Michael Johnson (1994, 1995, 1996), Allen Johnson (1997), Marion Jones (1997, 1998), John Godina (1998, 2001), Inger Miller (1999), Maurice Greene (1999), Stacy Dragila (2000 and 2001), Angelo Taylor (2000), Khalid Khannouchi (2002), Deena Kastor (2003), Tom Pappas (2003), Justin Gatlin (2004 and 2005) and Joanna Hayes (2004), Allyson Felix (2005 and 2007) Sanya Richards (2006) and Jeremy Wariner (2006).

For full biographies of Felix and Gay, visit the Athlete Bios section of www.usatf.org