Last night on the ABC reality series “Shaq vs.”, American 100 meter record holder and current world leader Tyson Gay raced Shaquille O’Neal and some top American athletes on his home turf. After a head to head sprint and a 200 meter star-studded relay, Tyson Gay and Shaq tied overall in a somewhat staged, highly hilarious and generally good spirited reality TV event.
Over salads and steaks in Los Angeles, Tyson Gay and Shaquille O’Neal discussed the terms of their track and field showdown and decided on two main events to showcase their speed: a direct duel and a 200 meter relay. For the one on one race, Gay would run 60 meters, while Shaq would run 30 meters; for the celebrity relay, Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans running back), Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic center) and Tyson Gay would face former Olympic champion Maurice Green, Desean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver) and Shaq.
After Mo Green mentored Shaq during the episode– providing some laughs as the big man tried to take on true track form, but to little avail–and some trash was talked, it was time for the athletes to meet at the Occidental College track. For the first event, Gay and Shaq lined up at 60 meters and 30 meters, respectively, with Shaq standing since his size 22 shoes overshot the starting blocks.
Once the gun went off, it was obvious that the 60 meter/30 meter ratio was a bit unfair, as Shaq easily beat Gay to the finish line going 4.86 to 6.04 seconds. Gay’s 6.04 for the 60 meters, however, is quite impressive considering the casual nature of the race.
With Shaq up one, the relay would determine Gay’s fate and it came down to a comfortably close finish. An aging Maurice Greene took on a charismatic Dwight Howard and was easily defeated by the oddly coordinated 7-footer for 50 meters. Over the next 100 meters, Desean Jackson and Chris Johnson made for a good match-up with Jackson handing off to Shaq just before Johnson. With a slight lead on Gay, Shaq took off for the finish, but Gay pushed through the final 50 meters to the end to win the relay 23.04 to 23.13.
Although it was obvious Gay had to quell his inner speed demon over the last few meters to cater to the reality TV crowd, “Shaq vs.” Tyson Gay gave track and field a much needed pop culture and primetime television boost. After running a world leading time of 9.78 at the London Diamond League Meeting last week, Tyson Gay wants to close his summer 2010 season on a high and fast note. On August 27, Gay will attempt to beat his personal best and American record of 9.69 seconds at the 14th and final Diamond League event in Brussels.