Two Sprinters, One
Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden, in a parenthetical aside in an article published Friday, called it.
"What's up with Tyson Gay?" is one of the most intriguing pre-Olympic Trials questions facing the sport.
Gay, the American Record holder in the 100, is rehabbing from hip surgery last summer, hasn't yet raced yet this season, and freely admits his Olympic year training path hasn't been without bumps.
"Preparations are going well," Gay said recently when interviewed for the Olympic Trials Men's 100 Preview that will run in the upcoming July issue of T&FN. "Since the surgery, I've had some real good weeks and some real frustrating ones. I've had to take things real careful and injuries never come around as fast as you want them but I've been putting in the work and getting ready for the Trials."
Gay has always been a straight-forward athlete, and we take him at his word, but when we spoke with Justin Gatlin, also for the Trials 100 Preview, a lightbulb came on.
Gatlin—who in his own comeback dashed a US-leading 9.87 at the Doha Diamond League and 9.93 in Daegu for a pair of wins within the past week—works out on the same track as Gay at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida.
"I see him every day," Gatlin told T&FN.
Now working with coach Dennis Mitchell, Gatlin is a newcomer this season to the Clermont oval. We asked him what it's like to have a prime rival, the AR holder, training, with a different coach (Lance Brauman) in such close proximity.
"At first it was kind of weird, him being on one side of the track, I'm on the other side of the track," Gatlin said, "but it's something that I've got used to. I watch his workouts, he watches my workouts. On my part it definitely pushes me to be a better athlete every day because one of my true competitors is less than 100 meters away from me."
They don't line up and race to see who buys lunch, but Gatlin has nothing but respect for what he sees across the track.
"I think that throughout his whole career Tyson's had injuries but he's been a tough competitor, a tough runner," Gatlin said. "I'd love to race the Tyson that has been racing for the past few years. I hope that he gets healthy and well.
"He has been training. He's wearing spikes and things like that, training to get ready. So I can definitely say that he's been focused on what he has to do to get ready." /Sieg Lindstrom/