Even when he was little, Tyson Gay was fast (“I could steal a few bases,” he says of his childhood baseball days), but he was 14 or so before he could beat his sister, Tiffany, who’s a year older. “She had a quick start,” he explains. “She inspired me.”
Tiffany did a fine job, because her little brother went on to become a three-time Class 3A 100m state champ out of Lafayette High School, with his 10.46 state-meet record from 2001 still standing. Tyson followed that up by becoming the first athlete in University of Arkansas history to win an NCAA 100m title.
Now, he is also a triple World Champion, an American Record Holder and the second fastest man in history. At the 2007 World Championships, Gay became only the second man in history to win titles at 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4x100-meter relay. His 2008 Olympic medal chase was cut short by injury, but he returned with an appetite for speed in 2009. He bettered his own the American Record three times and secured a silver medal at the IAAF World Championship in Berlin at 100m.
Gay counts the ability to bounce back from a bad race, instilled by his mother, as perhaps his biggest strength, but his ability to run a textbook curve in the 200 doesn’t hurt, either. The media and his fans know Tyson as a quiet, humble personality fostered. “It makes me smile,” Tyson told a Lexington newspaper reporter after the 2006 season. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming, a little bit. Because I’m just a country boy from Lexington, Kentucky, who just runs for the love of track. But when I see guys like Michael Johnson and Frankie Fredericks and Maurice Greene, and I’ve run some of the same times they have, it’s just shocking. I never really knew I could do that until now.”
When he is not training in Orlando or Dallas, Tyson loves to spend time with his daughter, Trinity.