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Tyson Gay back on track and healthy again

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

For so long, pain has followed Tyson Gay around the track.

If it wasn't his hamstring giving him grief in a workout, it was his surgically repaired hip or groin.

So the other day when the American 100-meter record holder opened up around a curve in Clermont, Fla., he nearly stopped mid-stride as he felt, well, nothing.

No twinge in his hip. No tweak in his groin. No tightness in his hamstring.

That hasn't happened in years.

“Things are finally going in a good direction,” Gay said.

At 30 and in the twilight of his career, Gay is training wiser to give his body more of a break. He intends to be around — and healthy — for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, hoping to capture that elusive individual Olympic sprint medal and maybe, just maybe, close the gap on Usain Bolt.

There was a time — not all that long ago, either — when Gay was the top sprinter on the planet, winning gold in the 100 and 200 at the 2007 world championships. But that was before his rash of injuries and just a step ahead of Bolt's rise to prominence.

“I've been trying to catch him for a while,” Gay said.

Gay knows that many will be writing him off long before Rio rolls around. After all, he will be at an age when most sprinters contemplate retirement, not ramping up.

That's fine to dismiss him. The quiet and humble Gay — rare traits for a sprinter — hardly minds.

“Some of my best times have always come after me being hurt,” said Gay, who plans to ease into competition this season with a few local races in Florida. “I'm looking forward to proving myself.”

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