By ELLIOTT DENMAN
NEW YORK – Sixteen-year-old Adam Getliff has run the 100 meters in 12.4 seconds.
But not lately.
Doesn’t matter, though.
His very presence at the Adidas Grand Prix, the glittering-cast Diamond League event coming Saturday to Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, makes him a world champion.
In one world champion’s book, anyway, and before this weekend is over, for sure, the books of an array of champions of all descriptions.
Tyson Gay is the equal-second-fastest 100-meter man in track and field history, his 9.69 in
in 2009 in Shanghai topped only by two out-of-this-world Usain Bolt marks, the lightning-man’s 9.58 (at Berlin in 2009) and 9.63 (London 2012.)
Gay, the Kentucky-reared, Arkansas-schooled, Florida-trained dashman, is back on top of the 2013 world list, too, with his
9.86 in Kingston, Jamaica, three weeks ago.
“It’s cool, it’s good,” the oft-injured but now fully-healthy-again 31-year-old said of his name atop the 2013 leader board.
Expect Gay to run something sizzling at Icahn Stadium Saturday, and leave such challengers as Nickel Ashmeade and Nesta Carter of Jamaica, and fellow Americans Ryan Bailey and Trell Kimmons in his slipstream.
Given some conducive weather, a winning time in the low 9.8s, maybe the high 9.7s is definitely possible, specially so on the newly resurfaced and said-to-be-blazing fast Icahn Stadium track.
All the Grand Prix sprinters are laden with medals and honors, of all genres, souvenirs of their oh-so-rapid racing on the world’s biggest track and field stages. They’ve traveled the world to exhibit their speed, the whole idea to get from Point A to Point B in the greatest possible haste.
Adam Getliff, though, is overjoyed just getting to Point A.
“Adam is a fighter, he doesn’t want to lose,” said Gay at a pre-Grand Prix press gatheringThursday. “What he’s done inspires me, it should inspire everybody.”
Back in August 2011, just as Adam Getliff was preparing to start high school in Holland, Mich
igan, the 12.4-running eighth-grader woke up with a sore neck; with his parents, he sought medical advice, and soon enough got the bad-bad news.
The diagnosis was acute myeloid leukemia, a potential killer.
Just as it took a world-class team of coaches, trainers, medicos and physios for Gay – the double sprint champion out of the 2007 Osaka World Championships – to reach the top, and then bring him back after a heart-rending series of miseries and mishaps, it’s taken a world-class team to bring Adam Getliff back on top of his own game.
His team members were many – the anonymous umbilical cord donor; the doctors, nurses and staff of DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with the given, the constant support of his family.
It took a month, but the umbilical-cell transplant did work. It took five more months of rehab at DeVos Hospital, all while dealing with such side issues as heart problems and pneumonia.
Most importantly, it took an unbeatably-determined patient to make it happen.
Adam Getliff radiated a world-class smile, one seemingly wide enough to blanket the entire Big Apple, at Thursday’s gathering.
The bad news: while he’s back doing some light running, he’s not really ready to ask for a lane in the Grand Prix meet.
The better news: “I’m feeling better, stronger every day,” he said. “I’m hoping to go out for my high school team. I think I’ll be able to get my time into the 11’s.”
Sooner or later? Doesn’t matter. It’s the journey to Point B that counts most.
This is a trip of firsts for him – it’s a meeting made possible by the good people of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
He’d never been to New York before. And he’d certainly never met Tyson Gay before
(Oh, on Facebook, yes; In person, no.).
Gay’s story served as Adam’s own motivation.
World champion six years ago, Gay coulda-woulda lost heart when the injuries and setbacks clouded his outlook, and he needed nearly a year away from the sport to build back to full strength and see “the big picture.”
Just in case – and just in time – Adam Getliff provided the extra lift Gay needed.
“The mind is a powerful thing,” said Gay. “It can carry you a long way. It can do anything.”
“What I’ve done as an athlete is like nothing that Adam has done.
“It’s not even close.”