Other Sports

Sports Briefs: June 19

Track and field

Gay says he's healthy, 'heading in the right direction'

For a little bit, Tyson Gay's first step tearing down the track made him wince and his next made him wonder: Would he ever be the same sprinter again? The runner who captured three gold medals at the 2007 world championships. The runner who broke the American 100-meter record in 2009.

Each time Gay hustled down the lane last summer, he felt a hitch in his surgically repaired right hip. It was a constant source of concern, especially going into the Olympic trials. He was just hoping that his hip would hold up, which it did and he made the London team. But the former Lafayette High School standout wasn't the same sprinter as he finished a disappointing fourth.

These days, he doesn't give the hip a second thought. He just may be in his best shape in years heading into this weekend's U.S. championships — possibly even his best shape ever.

"He's in a good place right now," his coach, Lance Brauman, said. "He's doing a lot of really good things. He did some stuff the other day and we did a video analysis and he looked the best he's ever looked on film. Hopefully, this summer shows it."

For the first time in a long while, there are really no restrictions on Gay. He can run until his heart's content.

Only, he's slowing down to speed up. See, he's always prided himself on the philosophy of "one more" — one more curve to hone his technique, one more burst out of the blocks, one more rep in the weight room. To conserve his hip, the 30-year-old is training wiser.

"Still training really hard, though," Gay said. "But the name of the game is to stay healthy."

And he hasn't felt this healthy, since, well, he can't even really recall. He's been constantly plagued by hamstring and groin ailments, along with the hip. Pain became a constant companion around the track. Being healthy again is a heavy weight off his shoulders.

"I don't have a lot of stress going on right now," Gay said. "Everything is just going well for me. It's going really well."

He's turning in fast times, too, running 9.86 seconds at a meet in Kingston, Jamaica, last month, the fastest time in the world this season. He followed that up with a win at the Adidas Grand Prix meet in New York — in damp conditions, no less.

That silenced any doubts about his health.

"It took me a year or so to get over that hip surgery," said Gay, who set the American record (9.69) at a 2009 meet. "I'm now heading in the right direction."

Although Gay has the green light, Brauman doesn't want to push him too much and they've learned when to back off.

"It's about being patient, taking it day by day and not trying to do everything in one day," Brauman said. "Because that hip was more of an issue over the years than people realize. Now that he's healthy, he's capable of doing again what he's capable of doing."

Gay is anxiously awaiting the 100 meters at nationals, where he and Justin Gatlin will be the favorites. Gay finished runner-up at trials last summer on a hip that bothered him so bad, he ran on grass during workouts to save some wear and tear.

"I'm not going into the race feeling like I have one hand tied behind my back," he said.

If he's feeling good after the 100, Gay might even run the 200 at nationals as well. That wasn't even a consideration last summer, given the state of his balky hip.

"I'm just going to take it one race at a time," Gay said. "I'm still working on being the best I can be."


Paille stepping up on offense for Bruins

His teammates always knew Daniel Paille was more than a speedy penalty killer who specialized in defense for the Boston Bruins. Given his chance on a rebuilt line, he's spreading that news in the Stanley Cup finals. Paille scored the winning goal in the Bruins 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2, then picked up the first goal in a 2-0 win on Monday night.

His next chance comes Wednesday night when Boston will try to improve on its 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"He's always been a great player for us," right wing Shawn Thornton, who played on the fourth line with Paille all season, said Tuesday. "He has all of the tools. I think he's popped a couple of goals, so maybe people are taking notice right now."

Paille spent the first two playoff series — and most of the third — on that line, which is relied on for its physical play and defense. But when center Gregory Campbell broke his right leg on the third game of Boston's sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, Coach Claude Julien had to juggle his lines.

He kept Paille on the fourth line until the Bruins were dominated in the first period of Game 2 against Chicago. So, in the second period, Julien put Paille at left wing on a more offensive line with center Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. That hunch to spark a listless team has resulted in three of Boston's four goals in the last two games.

"They just seem to be working well together. A lot of credit goes to them," Julien said. "I'm just a little ticked off that I didn't put them together sooner."


Altidore's goal gives U.S. 1-0 victory

Jozy Altidore scored a goal in his fourth consecutive international match, enough for the United States to edge Honduras 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying game Tuesday night at Sandy, Utah.

Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Americans remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The United States (4-1-1) won three straight games this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top. It has also shut out its last two opponents, Panama and Honduras.


Daytona frontstretch to be repaved

Three years after a complete repaving project, Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., is overhauling the famed track's frontstretch to enhance the "fan experience."

International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona and 12 other NASCAR tracks, estimates the redesign will cost between $375 million and $400 million. The redevelopment will give Daytona's aging grandstands a modern look and feel. It will include expanded entrances and a series of escalators and elevators to transport fans to three different concourse levels, each featuring spacious and strategically-placed social "neighborhoods" along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. Those 11 neighborhoods, each measuring the size of a football field, will allow fans to meet and socialize during events without ever missing any on-track action.

Backstretch grandstands will be removed while wider and more comfortable seating will be installed throughout the frontstretch. When the project is complete, Daytona will have reduced its capacity by 46,000 seats to 101,000.

College baseball

Tar Heels oust LSU from World Series

Brian Holberton homered, freshman Trent Thornton pitched a strong seven innings and No. 1 national seed North Carolina extended its stay at the College World Series with a 4-2 victory over LSU on Tuesday at Omaha, Neb. The Tigers (57-11) went 0-2 in their first CWS appearance since winning the 2009 national title.

The last word

Tiger Woods has now played 16 majors since he last won the 2008 U.S. Open, so he remains four short of matching the record of Jack Nicklaus. Can he do it? Felllow golfer Padraig Harrington said:

"He only needs to win four more. He's got plenty of years. The weeks he plays well, he wins. Not too many guys can say, 'Well, if I play well, I'm winning.' All he has to do is pick the right week. Clearly, he's not as good as he was in the past, but he's going to hit the right week enough times to win four more majors."