x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Usain Bolt wary of new challenges

Sprinter says he found himself not taking the 2010 season seriously and that he is out in 2011 to show the world he is back.

Usain Bolt said he wants to prove that he is back to his best this season.
Usain Bolt said he wants to prove that he is back to his best this season.

The Olympic sprint champion and world-record holder Usain Bolt confessed yesterday to feeling nervous for the first time in his career as he prepared for his season's debut at the Rome Golden Gala.

The Jamaican, who cut his season short last year with back and Achilles' tendon injuries after losing to the American Tyson Gay in Stockholm, will face compatriot Asafa Powell and France's Christophe Lemaitre in the third Diamond League meeting tomorrow.

"It's never pressure but, for the first time, I'm slightly nervous because I haven't run for a long time," Bolt said at news conference. "I'm looking forward to competing and to racing without an injury. I want to see where I'm at. I'm not expecting anything. I just want to get through the race."

Bolt said Gay's victory last year had meant "absolutely nothing".

"You lose some, you win some. You can never win every race in your entire career," he said. "Last season was not my best season. I took some downtime. This season is back to business. I want to prove to the world that I'm still the best."

Bolt, who suffers from curvature of the spine, confirmed he had seen a specialist in Munich before deciding when to time his return to the track but said the visits were nothing out of the ordinary.

"The doctor gave me the OK," he said. "I wouldn't say I was in perfect condition but in good shape."

Looking more muscular than before, Bolt said he had trained hard for the new season, which includes the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, in August.

"I've put more muscle on, and done a lot of work. That's why I may be look bigger," said Bolt, flexing his biceps and breaking into a broad smile. "I don't know yet how I will race. Last season, I didn't really take it as serious.

"What's bothered me over the years is my first 30 metres. I'm tall, so I've been putting a lot of work into the start."

Bolt paid tribute to former world 100-metres record holder Powell, and the European champion, Lemaitre.

"Powell's a great athlete. He's been around for a lot of years and has broken world records," Bolt said.

"Chris is a great talent and all he has to do is focus on himself and not worry about others, because that's when you make mistakes. Over time he will be among the top three or four in the world."

Bolt said he was happy to avoid attention and spend time on his home island.

"My privacy in Jamaica is OK," he said. "They don't pressure me that much. They ask for autographs but it's not like when I go overseas.

"It's the perfect place."

* Reuters