Tyson Gay won't try to run 200

Updated: March 30, 2012, 8:36 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers | ESPN.com

CLERMONT, Fla. -- American sprint star Tyson Gay has decided against vying for a sprint double at the 2012 London Games this summer, and will instead focus his Olympic-year efforts on the 100 meters.

"I've had some minor setbacks with nagging injuries," Gay told ESPN.com on Friday at The National Training Center. "I've been taking it slower, and I don't have the same quality (of training) I wanted to do the double."

Gay ended his 2011 season last July when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum muscle in his hip. He said that injury is fully healed, but adductor muscle strains and inflammation around his pubic bone have forced him to stop his training twice since November, and his schedule doesn't allow enough time to prepare for both the 100 and 200.

"Since then, it's been more or less taking it slow," he said.

Patience doesn't come easily for Gay, who doubled as world champion in the 100 and 200 in 2007. But this Olympic year is different, so much so that he may not even race before the Olympic trials, which begin the last week of June in Eugene, Ore.

"Maybe I want to pick a race before trials, or maybe just run at trials and see how it goes," Gay said. "I'm just not going to have the opportunity to have a lot of races like I normally do."

Gay hasn't even trained on a track yet. On Friday, he did a workout, including some 150s that concentrated on his running form, in front of media on the grass soccer fields at the training center. He has hit the weight room hard, and looked solid as he did sets of 300-pound dead lifts. He said he's eager to hit the track again, probably next week.

"If I get back in shape from this point quicker than normal, cool," he said. "If not, I don't want to take any chances. I'm working out on grass, and next week I'm getting on the track, so I'll start to feel a little different in the next few weeks."

Gay admitted the past few years have been frustrating. They included a hamstring injury running a 200 heat at the 2008 Olympic trials, a groin injury in 2009 and last year's hip surgery. He's not rushing anything, but said he'll be ready for Eugene, even if he's not had a single race before then.

"Absolutely," he said. "I believe it's important to be healthy, and you've got to make the team first. I don't want to risk a setback running a small meet trying to see where I'm at. I don't think it'll be easy, but I'm confident enough to do it."

His coach, Lance Brauman, said Gay is on track to be ready for the trials.

"He's not on the same training schedule as the rest of the group, but that's OK," Brauman said. "The goals he has in mind, he's on pace to get."

Those goals, however, no longer include the 200 meters.

"The trials are tough," Gay said. "I know all these guys are going to be gunning for me, gunning for that spot, gunning for glory. I want to defend my championship and get to London."

Making the U.S. Olympic team is only one of his goals. For everything Gay has accomplished -- he dominated the world championships in 2007 and posted the second-fastest time ever in the 100 meters in 2009 -- he doesn't have an Olympic medal. He was expected to challenge Jamaican star Usain Bolt in Beijing in 2008, but the hamstring injury slowed him down.

"I put some pressure on myself because I want to get it accomplished," he said. "That's my goal. I want an Olympic medal, to come home with it. I'm never going to be satisfied, but I would be satisfied in that area with a medal."

Preferably a gold one. And he's well aware that Bolt stands in the way.

Gay has beaten Bolt before, so he knows it's possible. And although he spent the last four years running in Bolt's shadow, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I don't think it's bad timing," Gay said. "People say, 'Dang, you would be the world-record holder and you would be this, you would be that.' At the end of the day, if Bolt wasn't here, I may not have ever thought about running 9.5 or 9.6. Running his times has helped me reach further goals of mine as well as dropping my time.

"I can't say I'd be better without him. Financially? Media attention? Superstar status? Yeah, maybe. But I don't really look for that. I just enjoy running."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.