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Q&A: Tyson Gay joins Olympian instructors at Centre track camp

Tyson Gay was at Centre College's High Velocity Track and Field Academy along with 10 other Olympian instructors on Monday.
Tyson Gay was at Centre College's High Velocity Track and Field Academy along with 10 other Olympian instructors on Monday.

DANVILLE — The High Velocity Track & Field Academy, taking place at Centre College, is aptly named.

Eleven Olympians are on the staff, including Lexington native Tyson Gay. The American record-holder in the 100-meter dash (9.69 seconds), Gay is the second-fastest sprinter of all time. Only Jamaica's Usain Bolt, whom the Lafayette High School graduate beat soundly last year, has run faster.

The camp, for boys and girls ages 12-19, opened Sunday and ends Wednesday.

Gay, a World Championships triple gold-medalist in 2007, took time Monday to talk about his career.

Question: You laid down a fast 100 Saturday (9.79 seconds at Clermont, Calif., where Gay now owns a home). What were the circumstances?

Answer: It was a real relaxing environment, a home track meet, and I just wanted to go out there and run with my teammates and see how things went.

Q: How are you physically?

A: My hip's been bothering me a little bit from wear and tear over the years — just pounding and pounding and pounding; just some things that the body goes through.

Q: When you hurt your hamstring at the 2008 Olympic Trials, how long did it take for you to recover?

A: A hundred percent with no pain? Probably almost two months or so.

Q: What about last year, with groin surgery?

A: A few months, rehab and stuff like that. But it went real well. I had the procedure done in Philadelphia by ... Dr. (William) Meyers. He really took care of me, and I had my rehab with Chris (Simmons, University of Kentucky athletics trainer).

Q: So how fit are you?

A: Honestly, I'm about 75 percent, just based on how my body feels and just the aches and stuff like that.

Q: You have the World Championships coming this summer and the Olympics next year. So how important are the Worlds to you?

A: They're important to me because I love to compete, I love to run. But next year, that's one of the most important goals of my career, and I definitely want to come up with some hardware.

Q: Do your times ever amaze you?

A: I think so. Because I ran 9.79 this weekend coming off a slight injury and not training, and only 75 percent, so it amazes me how my muscle memory comes back and able to do it again.

Q: How fast do you think you can run?

A: I don't know. ... In the right conditions, I know I can run sixty-lows (9.60s) for sure, and my goal is to run in the fives (9.5s).

Q: What about 200 meters this season?

A: This year, I don't think I'm going to run too many 200s just because my training has been off. I haven't been able to do the type of training I've been wanting to do, so I'm not for sure if I'm going to run any. But next year I'm definitely going to double at the (U.S. Olympic) Trials and get back in shape for the 200.

Q: You've beaten Usain Bolt several times, including last season, yet you don't seem to have the recognition from casual sports fans that Bolt has. Does that bother you?

A: Not at all. I believe, when it's time for me to have attention or exposure, it'll come. But as long as I be myself, I'm satisfied with the accomplishments I've done, the things that do come my way, the attention that I do get.

Q: What is your short-term schedule?

A: Saturday in New York, then USA (Championships). Then, that's it until Europe.

Q: What else would you like to tell your fans?

A: I wish I could do more stuff in the community, at home, with track and field. But with my schedule and conflicts. ... If I could, I wouldn't mind doing things with the community because I don't ever want to forget where I came from.

Joyner-Kersee among ex-Olympians at camp

The High Velocity Track & Field Academy debuted last summer under the guidance of Olympic veterans Sharrieffa Barksdale and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Forty-five campers took part in drills at the former Harrodsburg High School track.

This year, the camp moved to Centre College and has grown to 160 campers.

Barksdale (hurdles) and Joyner-Kersee (multiple events) again head the staff. Other Olympian instructors are Tyson Gay (sprints), Johnny Gray (middle-distance), Jeff Hartwig (pole vault), Kristin Heaston (shot put), Aretha Hill-Thurmond (discus), Bershawn Jackson (hurdles, 400), Francie Larrieu-Smith (middle- and long-distance), Larry Myricks (long jump, sprints) and Jamie Nieto (high jump). Also on staff is Angela Taylor, head coach of the U.S. women's Pan American Games team. Late conflicts prevented two staffers from attending — horizontal jumpers Dwight Phillips and Mike Conley.

"The camp is going fantastic," said Barksdale, a Lexington resident and former American record-holder in the women's 400-meter hurdles. "The kids are learning a lot. ... When they go back next year, they're going to shock a lot of people."

Mark Maloney

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