In­jury anx­i­eties grow, but Bolt says ‘sport needs me to win’

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - ROB HAR­RIS

— 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.

USA TO­DAY SPORTS FILE PHOTO

Usain Bolt ofJa­maica poses af­ter win­ning the 200-me­tre race in 19.89 sec­ondsin Lon­don ear­lier this month.

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