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Tyson Gay would not oppose race with Pistorius

18 January 2008

By Dave Ungrady

U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay, the male athlete of the year for USA Track and Field and the International Association of Athletics Federations, says he has no problem with disabled runners wanting to compete against able-bodied athletes.

Gay, speaking during a teleconference Thursday announcing his award as the 2007 United States Olympic Committee Sportsman of the Year, offered the opinion when asked if he would run against South African Oscar Pistorius, a Paralympian gold medalist who this week was denied a petition to compete in the Olympics.

"I don't see a problem with it if they want to go out and compete just like we do and put their heart into it," he said.

The IAAF, the world governing body for track and field, ruled earlier this week that Pistorius cannot compete in the upcoming Beijing Olympics because his prosthetics provide an advantage over able-bodied runners.

Pistorius, who won the 200 meters at the 2004 Paralympics, runs with prosthetics on both of his legs. He competed in two high-level international races last July against able-bodied runners. Pistorius finished second in the 400 meters in a "B" race in Rome and was disqualified for running out of his lane in another 400-meter race in Sheffield, England. He is appealing the IAAF decision and hopes to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

On racing against Pistorius, Gay said: "It would be up to him," he said. "I don't really go out looking for a competitive race, but if he is happy being in a race with me, I think it would be great."

Gay's Olympic preparation follows a year when he admits he exceeded his expectations. "I had so much success, such as winning this award, winning the gold medals, it was amazing," he said. "Last year I didn't have any idea I would win so many medals and races. It almost meant too much to me. I have to dig down hard to find the hunger and find my goals."

Gay said his wins in the 100 meters and 200 meters at the world championships does not give him an advantage over 100-meter world-record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica.

"When I won the worlds, I thought he now knows my finish is good and that my start was getting better," he said. "I was very positive going into the Olympic year. Then he breaks his own world record. I think mentally, we both have a psychological edge. He respects me, and I respect him just as much."

Gay trains with two coaches. At this point of the season, he is with Lance Brauman in Florida, and later he will meet up with Jon Drummond in Dallas. Gay, who also won the 4x100-meter relay in Osaka, talked about his preparation for the Beijing Olympics. He said he is training with two coaches, now with Lance Brauman in Florida and later in the year with Jon Drummond in Dallas, and has been focusing recently on strength and base conditioning.

"I'm focusing on distance, with some 400s in practice, some hills and some strength training," he said. "I'll go to Dallas to work on my speed and starts."

Gay has yet to schedule a competition in 2008.

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