EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - A rusty Tyson Gay returns to the site of one of his biggest disappointments when he competes over 200 meters in the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Saturday.
Gay’s Olympic medal ambitions for the 200 meters at the 2008 Beijing Games were cruelly dashed at Eugene’s Hayward Field two years ago, when a leg injury saw him crash to the track during U.S. trials.
“This is an opportunity to redeem myself hopefully from 2008,” the world 100 meters silver medalist told a news conference on Friday.
With the 2007 world double sprint champion’s 200 meters hopes quashed, Gay’s 100 meters bid at Beijing also ended in frustration at the quarter-finals, as Jamaican Usain Bolt swept to world records with legendary runs in both finals.
Gay, back in Eugene for his first 200 meters of the season, ran one round of the 100 meters here at the 2009 U.S. trials in to qualify for the world championships, but did not enter the 200.
“I thought about it (the 2008 race) today for the first time,” he said. “I haven’t watched that race for a long time. I just want to take advantage of running on a nice track.”
Gay’s comeback road has not been smooth, a nagging tightness in his right hamstring believed to be caused by an old back injury has hampered his training for almost seven weeks.
“I‘m about 80 percent (healthy),” said Gay, adding that he would be happy with a time in the low 19 seconds on Saturday.
“I still want to run fast ... I am rusty right now but at the same time there is really nothing I can do,” he said. “I need to race to get myself into shape.”
A meeting with Bolt looms down the track, but may not happen until August, which would benefit Gay and his recovery.
“I think after I get this race under my belt, a few 100s under my belt, I think I will be good to go,” the U.S. 100 meters record holder said.
Bolt’s world records are 9.58 seconds at 100 meters and 19.19 at 200 while Gay’s bests are 9.69 and 19.58.
“From a fan’s point of view he has set the bar so high, if someone is not running 9.7 (in the 100) it doesn’t look as entertaining,” Gay said.
Editing by Ian Ransom