Former world champion sprinter and current Olympic contender Tyson Gay doesn't emote much.
In a sport overrun with chest-thumpers, the Lexington, Kentucky native tends to speak in terse bursts of excess humility.
"Yes." "No." "Correct." "Sure."
So I was surprised—and, I must admit, a bit pleased—when I finally got the American record holder in the 100-meter sprint to brag about himself.
The subject? His beard.
The claim? Tyson Gay thinks he has the best facial hair in sports.
Good luck getting the Gillette spokesman to extend his self-praise much further.
As sprinters go, he's still a paragon of modesty. And if our interview with him (seen below) is any indication, that won't change anytime soon.
1.) Is your best better than Usain Bolt’s best?
I think it’s close. Right now it’s hard to say that because this guy has run 9.5. I’ve only run 9.6, but at the same time I think when we’re both healthy we’re going to give one hell of a run.
2.) On a personal level, do you like Usain Bolt? Do you know him well?
I know him well enough. But it’s more so on the track. Off the track I don’t know him as much, or as well as some of the other athletes do.
What are your impressions of him?
I mean, he’s cool. At the end of the day, what a lot of people see on television and things like that is what they see, but they don’t see behind the closed doors. I already think he respects me as an athlete. I respect him as an athlete. Things are a little different behind closed doors. But it’s just really business on the track, though.
3.) You're known as a modest guy, a respectful guy. Do you ever think to yourself, “If I stirred the pot a little bit more, maybe I’d make an extra $100,000, maybe I’d get an extra sponsor?”
Nah. I think we get enough of that from a couple of the other athletes we have. I think I am who I am. I think if I went off on the other side of the road, people wouldn’t even believe it.
It’s just my natural personality. I mean I do get excited when I run races. I do get excited when other things happen in my life. But as far as antics…I don’t really get involved in those.
4.) Since you're a Gillette guy I think it's fair to ask: Who do you think has the best facial hair in sports?
I would say myself.
Wow. Yourself? Alright then, what’s your routine?
I like to be a little rugged while I’m training. And then right before the race I like to get clean-shaved.
I like to keep it sharp, and I like to use the razor on my face to get the real, real close look. I think that makes my facial features stand out.
5.) If you could pick an athlete from another sport to trade places with for a month, who would it be?
This may be weird, but I’m going to go with LeBron James.
See that is odd to me because you seem like such a low-key guy, and he’s so out there in the middle of everything.
Right...But in a sense—in the media perspective—I think we’re kind of on the same level: fighting, trying to be the best you can be, and him trying to help his team overcome all the negativity.
I would like to know what it feels like to be on that stage and still try to prove the critics wrong.