Tyson Gay says he’s pain-free, ready to beat Bolt
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Tyson Gay is finally injury-free and says he has “no excuses” for not beating Usain Bolt.
The fastest man in the world this year, Gay acknowledged his frustration Wednesday at dealing with hip, groin and hamstring pain while Bolt piled up world records and gold medals.
“It just was maddening for so long,” said the American, who won sprint double gold at the 2007 world championships before Bolt started dominating the following year.
“It’s finally over and done with,” Gay told reporters ahead of his headline appearance in the 100 at the Athletissima Diamond League meeting on Thursday.
“I have no excuses, I have no pain. I feel good. I am over the mental part of being injured,” said the sprinter whose 31st birthday next month falls on the eve of the worlds opening in Moscow.
Now Gay wants Bolt, who skips Athletissima to run a 200 in Paris on Saturday, to arrive in Russia in the same great shape. Double Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake is the actual world champion at 100 — after Bolt famously false-started in Daegu, South Korea — though the Jamaican No. 2 has had a hamstring injury since April.
“I hope Usain stays healthy and may the best man win,” Gay said. “It’s no secret that this guy is a championship performer and you have to bring your ‘A’ game to beat him, or better than your ‘A’ game.”
Gay showed his readiness by winning the 100 and 200 meters at the U.S. championships last month, clocking world-leading times of 9.75 and 19.74 seconds, respectively.
Confidence flows from his body after standing up in Des Moines, Iowa, to the same intense program of heats, semifinals and finals which awaits in Moscow.
“I felt me doing the double was a hump I had to get over myself. I hadn’t done it in five years,” Gay said.
Gay pointed to changes in his coaching set-up and approach, prioritizing his body over going flat-out fast all the time.
“It just is all to do with trying to stay healthy,” said Gay, adding he is working only with longtime coach Lance Baumann and not — for now — with Jon Drummond, who joined the sprinter’s team ahead of his 2007 season. The new approach involves “taking things slower” and picking spots to post fast times in practice.
“I was running so fast I couldn’t finish the work out, just to prove a point there,” Gay said. “Now I’m trying to leave the race for the race.”
After seasons of Jamaican domination, at major events and on the Diamond League circuit, Americans can take center stage Thursday.
Newly crowned American 200-meter champion Kimberlyn Duncan hopes her first individual race in Europe will help prepare her for the worlds.
Duncan claimed her ticket to Moscow when beating Olympic champion Allyson Felix at the U.S. nationals.
“This is something brand new for me. I’m switching over from collegiate athletics to professional,” the 21-year-old Louisiana State University student told reporters, joking that she wants to “see what is going on” around the international circuit.
As a three-time NCAA champion over 200 outdoors, Duncan is used to dominating her competition. As a Diamond League rookie, that changes in Lausanne where the field will include Olympic bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter. Felix was entered but withdrew Tuesday.
“I’m excited about it. I know I have to step it up,” said Duncan, whose main focus is on improving her mental preparation for races.
Her only previous European race was at Monaco last July as part of a winning American 4x100 relay team at the Herculis Diamond League meet. The quartet included Lauryn Williams who went on to win gold in the event at London.
“It was my first time going overseas and getting out of the country,” Duncan said. “I was happy to have had that experience with that race and, of course, with Olympic champions.”
Duncan’s schedule includes returning to Monaco on July 19, after running at a second-tier meet on July 10 in Budapest, Hungary. The world championships start Aug. 10.