Tyson Gay says 9.7 needed for London medal

Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:10pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Someone may break 9.8 seconds for only the second time in an Olympic 100 meters final and still fail to win a medal at the London Games, says the world's second fastest man Tyson Gay.

"I really truly believe that," the American sprinter told Reuters in a telephone interview from Monaco on Thursday.

"It will take a 9.7 to even get a medal.

"It's mind blowing," Gay added, and the record books back him up.

Only once in an Olympic final has a sprinter run 9.7 or faster, Jamaican Usain Bolt smashing the world record with his 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics.

Second placed Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago clocked in at 9.89.

Now with Bolt, Jamaican world champion Yohan Blake, former world record holder Asafa Powell, American Justin Gatlin and Gay headed for an August showdown, one could foresee a 100 meters of historic proportions even without a world record, Gay said.

"It is mind blowing to think four or five people even have the possibility of doing that (9.7) in one race," said the often-injured Gay who set a personal best of 9.69 seconds in 2009.

Bolt leads the pack with his 2009 world record of 9.58, Powell clocked 9.72 in 2008 and Blake ran 9.75 this year.

That Gay is even in the London mix is a minor miracle.

As late as early March he could not even jog because of 2011 hip surgery that kept him off the track for almost a year.

He ran his first race in June but still made the U.S. Olympic team later in the month, finishing second to Gatlin in the American trials.

"I still feel something here and there but there is no looking back now," Gay said of a sore groin. The hip appears much better.

The biggest concerns are bad habits, particularly in his start, that have crept back into his race from a year's inactivity.

"But I am definitely confident going into the Olympics that I will be fit, ready to go and my start will come at the right time," said Gay, who would like an early birthday present from the Games (He turns 30 on August 9).

Gay appeared so ready for his first Olympic medal after a super quick but wind-assisted 100 meters at the 2008 American trials. But a hamstring injury in the 200 there left him unable to run at top speed in the Games and he went out in the 100 semi-finals.

"That (a medal) is the missing piece," said Gay, the 2007 world double sprint champion who has never won an Olympic medal.

"I ask somebody every day how many days left till we start. I think about it constantly."

Bolt and Blake may grab the headlines, "but I have the confidence I can win it," Gay said.

"I am confident I can run 9.7 or better. I don't think I have a choice but to."

He will test his fitness on Friday by running the third leg on an American 4x100 meters relay at the Monaco Diamond League meeting.

Young Ryan Bailey will lead off the squad with Gatlin running second and Trell Kimmons the anchor.

(Reporting By Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina)

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