U.S. sprinter Gay convinced world record needed for 100m gold

Updated: August 11, 2008, 11:01 PM ET

BEIJING -- Tyson Gay thinks he might need to break 9.7 seconds to win the Olympic 100-meter final and has been focused on doing just that since Usain Bolt ran his world record of 9.72 in May.

Gay was not far behind with his American record 9.77 in July and got an idea of what his promised land would feel like when, backed by an "illegal" wind, he roared to 9.68 seconds to win the U.S. trials.

"When Bolt ran 9.72, I realized that I had to run a 9.6 to beat him and that's what I trained my mind to do," Gay told a news conference on Monday.

"The record can go and the guys can go '9.6'. I did it with a lot of wind but I feel I can go there without wind.

"This is one of the hottest 100s in history, there hasn't been as much hype about it for a long time."

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Gay's confidence comes despite his lack of action in the last month following the hamstring strain that ended his chances of making the 200 in Beijing. He spent the time in rehabilitation and said his recovery was complete.

"I'm fully confident my hamstring is 100 percent," he said. "I don't feel any aches or twitches, I've been staying hydrated and I'm confident my body will hold up."

Gay, who pulled up during the 200 heats at the U.S. trials, admitted he had been in a "bit of a panic" at the time.

"It really hurt when it first happened," Gay said.

"I was really upset, the same thing happened in 2004 and that memory rose up and started messing with me," he said.

Athletes have a tendency to think they can do anything. Now I definitely know I have to look after my body a bit better.

-- Tyson Gay

"Athletes have a tendency to think they can do anything. Now I definitely know I have to look after my body a bit better."

Gay's absence from the big European competitions turned the focus on Bolt and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell but the American said it was impossible to pick a favorite.

"I guess it should be the world record holder but Powell is very confident right now," he said.

"There is pressure on Bolt and I don't know how he's taking it, he's a young guy and he likes to have fun. Regardless of what he says, people are expecting him to win the gold medal. I'm in the back but I've had some good practices.

"To have three guys who have run 9.7, I think it's amazing, and I can't overlook [Americans] Walter Dix and Darvis Patton, or any of the others."

Win or lose in the Aug. 16 final, Gay, who says he is loving life in the athletes' village, is making sure he enjoys the whole Olympic experience.

"I think the torch was lit at 12:01 so it was actually on my birthday," said the world champion, who turned 26 on Saturday.

"The ceremony was the best experience of my life, words can't even describe it."