Injury anxieties grow, but Bolt says ‘sport needs me to win’
— Whatever controversy is raging in the Olympic world, there’s one constant: Usain Bolt’s bravado and self-confidence.
It’s what is expected from the world’s fastest man and greatest showman.
“I know the sport needs me to win — and come out on top,” Bolt asserts, assessing the damage caused by the Russian doping scandal that has divided sports leaders.
As for his pursuit of an Olympic treble next month, Bolt adamantly responds: “I’m not going to lose one of the golds, for sure.”
In his last lengthy media appointment before heading to Rio de Janeiro, Bolt spent around two hours over a Jamaican lunch last week in London, discussing his Olympic challenge prospects and the challenges of life.
When letting his guard down, Bolt sounded less invincible. Weighing on the Jamaican sprinter’s mind is the fear of hitting 30 next month, the toll of injuries — and even being caught up in an extremist attack.
“It is scary,” said Bolt, adopting a rare subdued tone. “But if you live scared, you don’t live at all. So I try to live my life to the fullest and when it’s my time, it’s my time.”
Bolt recalls being in Munich as news emerged of the truck attack in the French city of Nice on Bastille Day — July 14 — that killed 84 people. Munich was itself the scene of bloodshed last week when a teenager shot dead nine people.
Bolt usually goes to Munich every three months to visit his doctor, Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.
“Especially at the start of last year I noticed that injuries take a little bit more time to get back to where you want to be,” Bolt said. “My coach always tells me that the older you get it’s going to get harder, and you have to push yourself.”
But coach Glenn Mills also offered him comforting reassurance Bolt still craves, despite being the 100- and 200-metre world record holder.
Bolt remembers Mills telling him “don’t worry, you’re a champ” at the world championships last year.
It was “one of the roughest years,” Bolt said, explaining how his back issue “has really deteriorated over the years.”
Bolt’s preparations for the defence of his Olympic titles (100, 200 and 4X100 m relay) have been far from smooth, with a hamstring injury forcing him out of the Jamaican trials. “I always have little doubts in my mind,” Bolt said in a restaurant overlooking London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. “But I’m focused and ready to go.”
Unlike many of the world’s top golfers, who have snubbed the chance to go to their first Olympics.
“I guess it’s not as important to them as it is to us who have been competing over the years,” Bolt said.
“There are a few sports in the Olympics that make me go ‘argh.’”
The Olympics are unquestionably the pinnacle of track and field. But providing the spectacle desired is proving difficult for the men.
“This year is one of the poorest I have ever seen as an Olympic (field) for men, really — the women have really shown more promise running fast times,” Bolt said. “(The men) have really unperformed this season, but I’m sure when we get to the Olympics it won’t be like that.”
Bolt expects Rio to be his last Olympics, but he still dangles the possibility of a trip to Tokyo.
Unless he decides to continue, Bolt’s glory era is due to end after the 2017 world championships in London.
He is absolutely certain he will be greatly missed.
“In football you have the debate who is the best footballer, but no one can debate who the fastest man in the world is,” Bolt said.
Usain Bolt ofJamaica poses after winning the 200-metre race in 19.89 secondsin London earlier this month.