International Athletics

Pressure builds on Tyson Gay

2015-06-24 07:42
Tyson Gay (AFP)

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, Oregon.

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 later.

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 banned steroid.

"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 week.

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 test.

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 afterward.

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 Southerner.

"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."


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