Patton and Gay follow Dix’s lead

Special to The Times

BEIJING -- Walter Dix competed in a well-worn Florida State track uniform at last month’s Olympic track trials, where he was second in the 100 meters and first in the 200.

It was a fashion statement of sorts, indicating that Dix -- who got his degree this spring -- had yet to sign a contract with an equipment sponsor.

Dix ran this morning’s first round of the Olympic 100 meters in an official USA Track and Field uniform, made by Nike, including the blue arm covers, wrist-to-elbow, designed to reduce wind resistance.

That was a good deal for Dix, because he recently signed a personal contract with Nike, as well as one for the Oakley sunglasses he was wearing.


“Barely felt the [head] wind,” said Dix, the only runner to make the Olympic team in both sprints.

Now all Dix needs is an office supply sponsor for the five rubber bands he wore around his wrist, signifying the five members of his family.

Dix, third in his heat with a time of 10.35 seconds, and all the other major players in the 100 advanced easily, guaranteed by finishing among the top three in each heat.

The quarterfinals were to take place tonight.


Reigning world champion Tyson Gay won his heat in 10.22 seconds, although his effort looked more tense and labored than a usual first-round effort. He had not raced since injuring a hamstring in the July 5 quarterfinals of the 200 at the Olympic trials.

“I felt a little sluggish, but my body woke up now,” Gay said.

The third U.S. sprinter, Darvis Patton, was second in his heat. “I wouldn’t come here thinking I couldn’t medal,” Patton said. “They booked my ticket for a reason.”

Jamaicans Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Michael Frater all were heat winners, although Powell complained of stomach problems.


“A Caribbean sweep is a very good chance,” Frater said. “We’re going to have six guys in the final.”

The three U.S. shotputters -- Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson and Christian Cantwell -- made it to today’s final. But Nelson, silver medalist in 2004, was having trouble breathing after pulling a rib muscle earlier this week.

“It’s mind over matter,” Nelson said. “If I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”