Thursday, August 2, 2012

London Olympics 2012 : Gay's full attention on Bolt and Blake in 100m

LONDON (AP) — Tyson Gay fell asleep in the stands while watching LeBron James & Co. play France, a moment captured in a picture by a teammate who posted it on Twitter, naturally.

Ha, ha. Very funny.

Gay is more concerned with more serious pursuits, such as trying to keep up with Olympic champion Usain Bolt and world champion Yohan Blake on the track. The Jamaican duo will have Gay's undivided attention when the 100-meter heats begin Saturday.

"I know what those guys bring to the table," Gay said. "But they know what I bring to the table."

He's the second-fastest man in history, thanks to a 9.69-second 100 (Bolt's record is 9.58). Gay won the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at the 2007 world championships and was a silver medalist in the 100 two years later.

But for the first time in quite a while, Gay's mind actually is on his competitors and not his surgically repaired right hip.

Definitely a sign of progress.

Just five months ago, Gay's hip was so tender that he could only run on grass. Now he thinks he can be a factor against Bolt and Blake — and maybe even step on an Olympic podium for the first time. Four years ago, Gay was banged up heading into the Beijing Games and knocked out in the semifinals.

Given that he turns 30 next week, Gay's best chance might be in London.

"I have a lot of driving forces coming into these games," said Gay, who splits time between Dallas and Clermont, Fla. "I feel like I'm really, really focused mentally and physically to leave here with a medal."

Hip willing, of course. He believes 9.7 seconds is what it will take to walk away with a medal.

"I can only hope my body is able to go there as well," said Gay, who set the American mark in 2009. "But on this stage, it's all about medals. Regardless of if they run 9.8 seconds, 9.7 or 9.6, it's something I'm going to have to hope my body can do and go from there.

"But I'm feeling good. Right now, I'm just enjoying myself and trying to get used to the (athletes) village."

Gay is sharing a room with Trell Kimmons, Michael Tinsley and Jeremy Wariner, the U.S. track foursome who have dubbed themselves "The Crew." Some of his teammates attended an Olympic basketball game Sunday, where 400-meter runner Tony McQuay caught Gay napping — and showed the photographic evidence to the world via Twitter.

"He got me pretty good," Gay said.

Did he get revenge?

"I haven't yet," he said.

His plans might have to wait. He's got bigger things on his mind.

While Bolt and Blake have recently been training in seclusion, Gay held a workout open to the media last week.

"I didn't really have anything to hide," Gay said with a shrug. "We're going to run this weekend and that's that. I didn't mind the media coming out to training. I didn't mind letting them know I was pretty healthy."

Maybe he didn't mind letting his opponents know, too. Gay had surgery to fix his hip a year ago and has only raced in a handful of meets since his return to competition in June.

But he won meets in London and France last month as he showed flashes of recapturing the form that made him — not Bolt — the world's top sprinter five years ago.

These days, Bolt and Blake grab all the headlines.

"Regardless of who's on the radar, you're going to have eight finalists who, nine times out of 10, are capable of getting a medal," Gay said. "It's going to be tough, regardless of who's getting the most attention and who's not."

Blake is the trendy pick to take Bolt's crown in the 100 final Sunday. Blake beat his countryman at the Jamaican trials in convincing style — at least convincing enough to lead Maurice Greene to pick Blake.

"I see Yohan Blake getting first, Usain is second, and third is up for grabs, between four people," said Greene, the Olympic 100-meter champion in 2000.

He considers Gay a contender for the bronze, along with 2004 Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin of the U.S., Asafa Powell of Jamaica, and Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago.

"I really, really, really want (Gay) to do well. Tyson is like a little brother to me," Greene said. "Because of the way he's been running, it's tough. I don't think he's over the injuries. I think he's still feeling pain and that's what hurts him."

Gay insisted the pain is gone.

What's nagging him, instead, is the thought that this could be his last chance to bring home a gold, silver or bronze from the Summer Games.

"There's a lot of pressure. I'm not going to lie," Gay said. "There would still be pressure if I did get a medal in 2008, but it's a lot more now. I really feel that's the missing piece in my heart, getting the Olympic medal."