Medal weighs heavily on Tyson Gay’s mind

Tyson Gay of the U.S. looks at the scoreboard after his men’s 100m semi-final of the athletics competition at the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in this August 16, 2008 file photo. Over 116 years the Olympic 100 meters final has produced drama, pain, controversy, disillusionment, incredulity and unbridled joy – all crammed into a race lasting little longer than it takes to say “Baron Pierre de Coubertin.” (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

By Gene Cherry

LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – American sprinter Tyson Gay will find satisfaction only if he wins a medal in the Olympic 100 meters, the former world champion said on Wednesday.

The world’s second fastest man of all time, Gay has never stepped on an Olympic podium and hip surgery, which kept him off the track for nearly a year, will make the task in London no easier as he goes up against world record holder Usain Bolt and world champion Yohan Blake.

“There is a lot of pressure, I am not going to lie to you,” Gay, whose 30th birthday is four days after the Aug. 5 Olympic final, told a news conference.

“There would still be pressure if I did get a medal in ’08,” said Gay who went out in the semi-finals of the Beijing Olympics while less than fully fit.

“There is a lot more now because I really feel the missing piece, in my heart, is getting an Olympic medal.”

With Blake and Bolt favored to take the top two medals in the final, Gay is expected to be in a dog fight with 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, who defeated him in the American trials, and Jamaican former world record holder Asafa Powell for the third.

But even Bolt has warned the tenacious Gay could be a major threat if fully healthy.

“If they run times I have never seen before, I can only hope my body can go there as well,” said Gay.

After all, the American’s 2009 personal best of 9.69 seconds trails only Bolt’s world record of 9.58, set the same year.

This year, Gay ranks only equal fifth on the 100m list, trailing Blake, Bolt, Gatlin and Powell.

“I came up short in 2008,” said Gay, who was recovering from a hamstring injury in Beijing. “I really want to redeem myself for my family and my country.”

He will honor both with personalized red, white and blue shoes and his daughter’s name, Trinity, embroidered on the tongue of them.

Five months ago the sprinter appeared a longshot even to be in London.

Because of 2011 hip surgery, Gay did not start training on the track until March.

His first race came in early June, followed by his second place to Gatlin at the U.S. trials later in the month.

“My confidence is pretty good,” he said, “and I have been having consistent treatment now.”

Fitness will not be a problem, said Gay, who still believes Bolt can not be overlooked in the 100m despite many observers making Blake the hot favorite.

“He (Bolt) is the only guy who has been where we haven’t been (timewise), the American said. “He still has to be one of the favourites.”

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