DAEGU, South Korea — Tyson Gay posed for pictures as he promoted a bright orange shoe he can't even run in.
The American record holder in the 100 showed up for the world championships only as a spectator, his surgically repaired hip keeping him on the sideline.
Really, though, his focus was anywhere but here. He's already thinking a year ahead to the London Olympics, hoping he will be ready to take on Usain Bolt.
Gay, a Lafayette product, is one of the fastest men on the planet, but his rehab has been tediously slow from hip surgery last month. His right hamstring is weak and he still walks with a slight limp.
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These days, Gay trumpets his biggest accomplishment as being able to walk backward in a swimming pool.
That's a long way from competing at Bolt's level again, especially since Gay won't be cleared to run again until November. He has a lot of training to make up with the Olympics looming.
Still, Gay insisted the hip has never felt better. He's been in pain for so long, compensating any way he could just to compete, that's it's a big relief to be rid of the ache.
However, the question hovers: Can he be the Tyson Gay of old — the version who once ran 9.69 seconds in 2009?
"I want to be the Tyson Gay of new," he said after a news conference Thursday for his sponsor, Adidas. "It's been a long time since I ran (that fast) — a real long time. I want to run faster than that, want to break my time."
Even as he recovers, he's already scheming big. Gay plans to compete in both the 100 and 200 in London.
"Now that would be the Tyson Gay of old," he said. "I'll give it a good go."
Reduced to watching Bolt from the sideline will be difficult for Gay.
The last time these two sprint titans competed in the 100 at the worlds, Bolt finished in an all-time best mark of 9.58 seconds. Gay finished a distant second at 9.71, which was an American record.
"On paper, it looked like a complete blowout," said the 29-year-old Gay, who would lower his mark to 9.69 later that season in Shanghai. "But I was happy."
In Gay's opinion — along with just about everyone else, for that matter — Bolt is the sprinter to beat in Daegu, especially now that former world-record holder Asafa Powell has pulled out because of a lingering groin injury. This is a big meet and Bolt always seems to raise his level in this type of setting.
"He's just a championship performer," Gay said. "He has the edge."
Gay pulled out of the 100 at U.S. nationals in June because of the hip, which has been bothering him since the beginning of the year. He was blocking out the pain as best as he could, before it was simply too much to bear.
The surgery ended the season for the former world champion and raised questions about what he would be like when he returned.
Those are thoughts that nagged at him, too.
"Your mind thinks about a lot of things when you're not on the track," Gay said. "It can possibly think about retirement."
Was he seriously thinking of stepping away?
"I had so much time to think. I was bored," Gay said, chuckling. "I understand one day it's going to come to an end. But at the same time I'm not ready yet.
"It was a major injury — there's no hiding that. I'm going to take my time with it."