I should have known. On Thursday, May 15, at the press conference at the Home Depot Center, Tyson Gay sat with Jenn Stuczynski, Bianca Knight, Veronica Campbell and Jeremy Wariner.
When I asked him about his 100 meter and 200 meter double, I thought at first he hesitated, but I was wrong. He opened his eyes wide and noted that it would be tough, and he was a bit nervous. He would not guarantee fast times, as he was working way too hard this early in the season to consider fast times. ” I am focused on the Olympic Trials and Beijing.” noted Tyson.
Tyson is pretty soft spoken. That is due to his upbringing, and his temperament. That does not mean he does not something to say or that he is not cognizant of the pressure on him in this Olympic year. One must listen close though, as he is a man of few words-thoughtful words, but few words. Then he spoke for two hours.
Tyson Gay spent nearly two hours speaking to media from the US and Europe at this press conference, then we were also given the chance to watch him do a light workout on the Home Depot Center track before heading back to the Westin Hotel. The entire interview will be seen in the upcoming Summer issue of Athletes Only, due out mid June 2008.
It was a very give and take. The media liked Tyson and they were track literate. This will not be the case at the Olympic Trials where sports writers come out of the woodwork and the easy questions are on drugs. The harder ones are about Tyson’s racing tactics, he amazing ability to maintain his top speed at the end the race, and his focus. Tyson Gay, after his three gold medals in Osaka, Japan had a bullseye on his back: he is he favorite for Beijing, and in truth, the 100 meters and 200 meters are his races to win or loose.
The thing is, Tyson knows that now. He is very media savvy, much more than last year, but he is also a good interview. It might not be the sound bites one wants, but Tyson gives considered, honest answers.
Tyson spoke of his new coaching arrangements, where he uses Lance Brauman and Jon Drummond as key coaches and also a new strength coach. Tyson is breaking his training between Florida and Texas. It was quite obvious in our discussions that Tyson realizes that he needs to be on his game, and he sees that the combination of Lance and Jon are providing him with what he needs. ” Jon gives me that experience of racing at the World Championships and Olympic level. Lance has been my long term coach.” noted Gay in the interview.
Two other telling comments. Several reporters wanted to suggest that there might be some antipathy between Tyson’s coaches. When one persisted in the line of questioning, the reporter asked what would happen if they, the coaches did not get along. Tyson smiled, then said, ” They have no choice.”
The other comment that was of interest was the consistent theme, among the European reporters bemoaning the fact that Tyson is not a in-your face type of athlete, no trash talking. The equate that with a competitive relationship. Tyson listened to their rationalisations, then noted, ” It seems that the only ones who have interest or need of trash talking is the media.” He smiled and listened to the next question.
From the interview, one came away with a view of a veteran athlete, who loves his sport, but may not be as in love with the media pressure, and such. He has learnt to take it all in stride. In this writers mind, Tyson Gay gave one of the best interviews I have witnessed in the sport. He spoke about his training, his competition, and his view of the sport.
It should also be noted and applauded that Tyson Gay is part of a program where USADA and WADA have taken base blood samples and are testing him several times during the year in order to determine clean athletes. This is a tremendous program, and in my mind, if I were CEO of USATF, I would require all of my stars to volunteer for this extra testing.
In the end, on May 18, 2008, Tyson Gay let his feet do the speaking, and they were eloquent-10.08 and 20.07 for the 100 meters and 200 meters. His win the 100 meters showed the depth of self control as he went past Darvin Patton as they hit the last several meters of the race, as both went to dive for the tape.
On May 31, 2008, Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt will give the world of track and field something to talk about with their battle over the hundred meters at the Reebok Grand Prix NYC.
For more on Tyson Gay, please click : http://www.globalathletics.com/Athletes/tyson_gay.php