New York - Tyson Gay never realised how harmful stress could be until the
American sprinter returned from a doping ban last year.
"It was so stressful, my hair started thinning," Gay told Reuters
via phone as he prepared for this week's US world championships trials in Eugene,
The hair is fine now, maybe even a little longer than when Gay became a
double world sprint champion in 2007 and set the US 100 metres record two years
But there is new tension.
"I haven't made a world championship team since 2009 so there is a lot
of pressure on myself to get back," said Gay, who was sidelined by injury
in 2011 and missed the worlds two years later after a positive test for a
"It would mean the world to me to put on the (USA) uniform again."
Whether the 32-year-old will attempt to make the American squad in both the
100 and 200 or just the 100 remains up in the air.
"If I do well enough in the 100, I'll leave well enough alone and not
put the extra pounding on my body," he said. "But depending on how I
do in the 100, we'll decide if I need to race in the 200."
The 100 starts on Thursday with the final on Friday. The 200 follows on the
Gay last wore the US colours at the 2012 London Olympics, winning a silver
medal with the US 4x100 metres relay team.
Things went downhill from there
He lost the only Olympic medal he ever won because of his 2013 positive
Yet, because of his cooperation with the US Anti-Doping Agency in his case
he was controversially banned for only one year instead of two and made a
low-key return to athletics last year.
The doping suspension still weighs on him, but a new environment and new
coach have improved his outlook.
The Kentucky-born sprinter, who previously lived in Florida, has moved to
Los Angeles, where John Smith, the coach of former world record holder Maurice
Greene, tutors him.
"He has changed my mind-set about harping on the past," Gay said
of Smith. "He tells me to take some of the energy and stress that I had
and put it on the track.
"He said don't worry about trying to prove people wrong about the
suspension that you had. Worry about running fast again and everything else
will take care of itself."
The speed is definitely beginning to come back.
His clocking of 9.88 seconds in the 100 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene
last month was the year's fourth fastest time
"Hey, I've still got it!" the happy sprinter told himself
A new arrival has also brought new happiness.
"I have a son, Tyson Jr., who is 8 months. He's a lot of joy,"
said Gay, who also has a 14-year-old daughter.
And living on the West Coast has produced another surprise for the
"The food," said Gay, who has changed his diet to eat more healthy
ingredients. "I miss the humidity (of the South) a little bit but as far as
the food, it is the best I have ever had."