I am going to copy and paste the entire interview (and correct it) because it’s full of horrendous spelling mistakes. Obviously, this audio-to-text interview was not transcribed by a Track person.
The original article can be found at courier-journal.com.
Press Conference excerpts:
Tyson Gay: I’m 30 now. That’s old in the track world. But I definitely want to continue to work four more years and give it a shot in Brazil. That’s my goal.
How did winning an Olympic medal feel?
TG: It felt good. I had my family there, my friends and teammates. I came up short in 2008. Everybody knows that. But nobody can take this from me. I’ll keep this forever. Everyone doesn’t get a chance to go to the Olympics. To bring home a medal was a great accomplishment.
The final of the 100 meters was described as maybe the greatest field of sprinters ever. What was it like to just miss out on a medal?
TG: That experience was wonderful as well. Coming up short, fourth place, had to be one of the toughest feelings in the world. But at the same time, I started training in March after surgery. Going (to the Olympics) was just a victory in itself. But I still wanted that individual medal. But I had to refocus… I talked to my teammates the night before we raced and I told them, “You guys can’t let me down…. Jamaica is a tough team to beat. But we’ve just got to get this stick around the track and we’re all going to go home and make our cities proud of us.” And that’s what we did.
How much better do you think you could have been had you not been coming back from surgically repairing your hip?
TG: I think a lot better. Because track and field is more so about staying healthy, even though it’s just sprinting. It’s a lot of strain on your hamstrings and body. As long as I can stay healthy, I think I can compete with the best of them. For those guys to have a full year (of preparation) and still barely nip me out to get a medal, that shows I’m definitely a fighter and I have a lot more time left in me.
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Had I been able to stay healthy and not had surgery, maybe I could have been the fastest human on earth?”
Yeah, I think so. At the same time, I think coming through all the adversity and the injuries, the rehab I went through, that’s actually made me who I am today: Being satisfied without the gold medal and understanding that maybe my life on earth is to show people you can still work hard, still run the sport clean and still do things that have great accomplishments even through tough times.
Knowing you’ll be the old guy running against the young guys, does that give you motivation?
TG: I think so. Right now I’m at the stage where I’m learning how to train smart. It’s about quality, not just beating my body up. Because I always trained so hard…. I’m going to really focus on taking care of my body.
Linford Christie was 32 when he won his gold medal (in 1992). How much inspiration to you do you take from that, the fact that past 30 it still can be done and you can keep improving at that level?
TG: I definitely think it can be done. For me to run the time I ran off of injuries, I know once I stay healthy, I’ll definitely have a lot more in the tank.
What does it mean to you being back in your hometown, signing autographs for the fans?
TG: It means a lot to meet my hometown fans. I don’t get to get home a lot. Track and field is sort of at the bottom of the totem pole with the other sports in the United States. But for people to recognize and respect what I do means a lot. So if I can give back to my fans, I’d do it a million times.
Is there a letdown after the Olympics to keep training?
TG: It’s a letdown. I’ve actually had off two months. Normally it would be Nov. 1, but next week I’m going to start back jogging and some things like that. It’s normally eight weeks off a year and a small break at Christmas and Thanksgiving.
At this stage of your career, how much is it physical and how much mental as far as being one of the best in the world?
TG: It’s a lot mental. I’ve been doing this at a high level for a very long time, pretty much since I was a collegiate athlete. Getting up early in the morning to take an ice bath, getting all the massages, the doctors. I’ve had two, three surgeries – not small surgeries, groin and hip surgeries. To keep fighting at this level is very tough, and it’s definitely mental. But you’ve got to stay positive and keep pushing. People from hometown, family members really supported me with a lot of positive thoughts.
Do you feel in your heart that you will beat Bolt one day again (as he did in 2010 when he ended the season ranked No. 1 in the 100 meters)?
TG: I really do. Because I haven’t been healthy. I don’t like to have excuses, but it’s almost like having to fight with one hand tied behind your back. That’s just the nature of the game. You try to train at a really high level and that means you’re going to risk injury. So the key is to be healthy. And right now Usain Bolt is healthy and he’s doing things the right way, obviously, to stay healthy. I think if I stay healthy, it will definitely be a fight between me and the other guys.
Overall, what do you think are the differences between the Jamaican and U.S. sprinters?
TG: I really don’t know. I don’t know what those guys do or how they train. They have great weather in Jamaica. They say they eat yams. I don’t eat yams. (laughter). Asafa Powell is a cool guy, a former world-record holder. And I think he set the trend for those guys who want to work hard and follow in his footsteps. I think he really pushed those guys to want to be great athletes.
Have you considered starting to eat yams?
TG: Nah, I’m not really up for eating yams. (But) I’m getting older, so maybe I should look into it.
Horse racing has been dealing with the public-perception problem when it comes to performance-enhancing medications. That’s something track has dealt with in past years. Do you think your sport has moved past that, or what strides need to be made in that area?
TG: I don’t really know the strides that need to be made. Myself and other athletes at the top level, we get very tested randomly. I mean, I have to report to a drug-tester and let them know that I came home for a day, that I’ll be here, I’ll be there. Anytime I leave anywhere, I have to report to him, so they can come and drug-test me. Between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., I have to be at home. It’s pretty tough. In that sense, I think they’re doing their job. [JIMSON’S NOTE: read my experience from Clermont, April 2012]
As far as performance-enhancing drugs, I think it will always be part of the sport. There are a lot of people in track and field that are somewhere at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s tough, I guess, to survive if you’re not an elite athlete. So some people try to make some extra money, winning some races. I think it’s just a small bump in the road in our sport.
It’s not fair, but at the same time we try to weed those people out. Because we have really strict policies about doping in track and field. A lot of people I think are straightening up and on the up and up now. If you get caught in one offense, I think it’s a two-year ban. And a second offense, it’s lifetime. I don’t know if you can ban a horse or not, but it’s pretty tough (in track) so you have to make smart choices in our sport.