Gay’s hip feels fine after first 100 in a year

Tyson Gay pushed his surgically repaired right hip to the limit

as he grimaced and grunted down the track during his first

100-meter race in nearly a year.

Then, he waited for the results.

Not so much for his time on the scoreboard – that was secondary.

The real test came the following day when he climbed out of

bed.

Now that was all telling.

Gay’s hip felt better than he could have envisioned. Sure, it

ached a little bit, but only a little bit.

”This may sound weird, but I was expecting it to feel worse

than it does,” Gay said in a phone interview Monday. ”I’m glad I

got that nervousness out of my system and can now run 100 percent

without worrying about anything.”

That’ a load off his mind, because Olympic trials are less than

two weeks away.

He has no races scheduled in between, just training in Dallas

with coach Jon Drummond as they try to break some bad habits that

crept in during Gay’s long layoff.

To make the U.S. squad, Gay has to finish in the top three at

trials. That won’t be easy, especially since four Americans have

already broken the 10-second barrier this season, including former

Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin.

”Just watching some of my competitors run, I believe it will

take 9.8 to make the U.S. team,” said Gay, who holds the American

record with a time of 9.69 in 2009.

Gay entered the ”B” 100-meter race Saturday at the Adidas

Grand Prix in New York, finishing in a time of 10.00 seconds as he

sprinted into a headwind.

All in all, a solid performance, given he’s still rounding into

shape and considering that reigning world champion Yohan Blake won

the marquee event later that day in 9.90 seconds.

To be so close to Blake’s time actually gave Gay a surge of

confidence. It showed him he’s on the right path.

Now, he’s just hoping there’s enough time to shave off more

fractions of a second.

For Gay, it boils down to this: Revamping his technique. He’s

swinging his arms too wide and striding too long in practice.

”A lot of wasted movement,” said Gay, who spent Monday at the

Gillette World Shaving Headquarters in Boston as he teams up with

the company to donate $25,000 to Gay’s high school in Kentucky as

part of Gillette’s `Get Started’ campaign. ”I have to break

those.”

He’s also working on giving his hip less time to recover, taking

only six-minute breaks in between intervals at practice.

That could come in handy at trials, given the tight turnaround

schedule.

Gay will run in the 100 preliminaries on June 23. Not even 24

hours later are the semifinals. And just over two hours after that

are the finals.

Provided he advances, it could be a lot of wear and tear on his

hip, which is why he’s bringing along two physiotherapists.

The biggest obstacle, though, is how long it actually takes the

hip to get limber. He needs about 90 minutes to properly stretch

out the hip. That will be cutting it close should he make the field

for the final.

Can he make this team?

”That’s the plan,” said Gay, who may run in a small meet in

Texas before the trials. ”We have four or five runners who are

running extremely well. I have to be one of them.”

He knows that in the eyes of many he’s a long shot to make the

Olympic team.

After all, he’s only run one competitive race since pulling out

of the U.S. championships last summer because of his aching

hip.

”I definitely know people are counting me out,” Gay said.

”I’d probably count someone out, too, if they haven’t raced in

over a year. I’m not really that sharp, so I understand that comes

along with the sport. But I think I can do it.”

Since winning three gold medals at the 2007 world championships,

Gay has been besieged by injuries and overtaken by Usain Bolt.

These days, Blake, not Gay, may be the only sprinter capable of

keeping up with Bolt, the world-record holder and reigning Olympic

champion.

Over the weekend, Bolt was in a minor car crash, but wasn’t

hurt. Gay sent a tweet out to Bolt, wishing him a speedy

recovery.

Asked if Bolt remains the sprinter to catch, Gay didn’t

hesitate.

”Absolutely,” Gay said.

With his performance Saturday, Gay definitely feels he’s

steadily making up ground.

”I feel good,” he said. ”Of course, when I looked up at the

clock, I was hoping to run (under 10), like any other sprinter,”

Gay said. ”At the end of the day, Jon Drummond told me that if I

run 9 seconds, I’m back. And if I run 10 seconds I’m back, too.

Taking the whole year off and run 10-flat was pretty impressive to

him.”