BEIJING — Some Lexington Lightning meeting a Jamaican Bolt could be the Perfect Storm of the Beijing Olympics.
Gay, out of Lafayette High School in Lexington, told reporters Monday that the left hamstring he strained at last month's U.S. Olympic trials is “100 percent now.”
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So he's ready to take on world record-holder Usain Bolt (9.72 seconds) and former record-holder and Jamaican countryman Asafa Powell (9.74).
“I think this is one of the hottest 100-meter dashes in history,” Gay said.
His first preliminary test comes Friday.
Interest is high.
“Kobe Bryant came up to me and asked me how my leg was doing. That was crazy,” Gay said. “He said he was going to come and check out the track meet. This is the best experience I've ever had in my life.”
The chance meeting came in a Beijing gymnasium.
“I asked him if I could take a picture with him, just so I could have it for memories,” Gay said. “He asked me, ‘How is your leg doing? I'm going to check you out and I'm going to keep you in my heart and hope everything comes along well.'
“I texted my mom right when it happened, like, ‘Kobe's praying for my leg.' ”
Daisy Gay Lowe, who will arrive here Thursday from her Alabama home, “was shocked as well,” Tyson said. “It was just amazing. It really meant something to me because he's a huge superstar.”
Gay said he is not concerned that he hasn't raced since the trials, where he went down during the quarterfinals of the 200-meter dash. Testing the leg too early could have ended his dream. Now, he's confident his hamstring will hold up through four rounds.
“My hamstring is 100 percent now. It took about four weeks for it to get fully recovered, but I've been getting rehab on it and doing some light training,” Gay said. “It feels good. I don't feel any aches, any twinges or anything like that. I've been staying hydrated and taking care of my body very well, so I'm really confident it's going to hold up.”
Gay spent most of the last month under close scrutiny of a massage therapist while he rehabbed. And, “I went to Germany to see Dr. Muller-Wohlfarth, a famous doctor, and he works with a lot of soccer stars and football stars and other great athletes. He has a lot of experience with hamstring injuries and that is why I went there.”
Before he was hurt at the trials, Gay won the 100 meters in a wind-aided 9.68 – the fastest 100 ever run under any conditions. In the quarterfinals, with a legal wind, he clocked an American-record 9.77.
Gay swept the 100 and 200 at last year's World Championships. Coming off an injury, though, Gay is an underdog. With the world record in hand, the pressure would seem to be on Bolt.
“I don't know how he's taking it, but I would assume there's a lot of pressure,” Gay said. “Regardless of what anybody says, people in his country and most other countries are expecting him to come home with that gold medal.
“A guy from Jamaica came up to me in the (Athletes Village) cafeteria yesterday and mentioned, ‘I hope you don't break up our sweep. You know, 1-2.' We laughed about it and joked around. But I'm pretty sure that's a real thing. I mean, Asafa Powell has been around for a long time. He's been a world record-holder and that means a lot to him. Usain Bolt is a guy who likes to have a lot of fun, but he is the world record-holder now and he'll try to hold onto that.”
Gay says he's ready to handle the pressure of an Olympics final.
“Asafa Powell is looking good right now, Usain Bolt is looking great as well. They're putting up phenomenal times,” Gay said. “I haven't been on the track since USAs (Olympic trials), but I've had some good practices and I feel that, if everything goes well, it could be a real fast time. … With three guys who can run 9.7, anything is possible.”