Jamaican sprinter will race on Friday at London Anniversary Games to reach Olympic qualifying standard for the 200m
Will Usain Bolt keep his promises? At a packed press conference on Thursday (21 July) in London, Bolt vowed to once again defeat his biggest rival in the 100m and 200m events at Rio 2016, US sprinter Justin Gatlin, and to cap that triumph by breaking his own world record in the 200m.
Good health, high hopes
The Jamaican sprinter was speaking on the eve of the Müller Anniversary Games, an IAAF Diamond League meet to be held at London’s Olympic Stadium to commemorate the 2012 Olympic Games.
“My hamstrings are good, I have no issues right now,” Bolt said. “I know I’m in good shape.”
“I'm happy that I didn't get a really bad setback this season, it was up and down, but I could always train.”
Bolt withdrew from the Jamaican Olympic Trials in June because of a muscle tear. He has been selected by his national team but has yet to officially qualify to race the 200m at Rio 2016. He will attempt to meet the Olympic standard this Friday at the Olympic Stadium in London. Given the standard is 20.50 seconds, it should be no problem for the man whose world record stands at 19.19s.
“The 200m is my favourite event and I know I’m in good shape. I’m looking to run a real fast time,” a confident Bolt said ahead of the race at the site of his London 2012 triple gold triumphs in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m events.
Usain Bolt named in Jamaican Olympic team for Rio 2016 Games
Bolt v Bolt
The charismatic 29-year-old ran the 200m in 19.55s – the fastest performance in the world for 2015 – to win gold at the world championships last August in Beijing.
Bolt's personal best and the world’s best ever time in the 200m is 19.19s. The closest he’s come to that mark since is his London 2012 time of 19.32s but he says the record will be there for the taking in Rio.
"I think the competition, the energy, the work they have to put in to win the 100m in Rio will help my 200m and that's really my focus, trying to break the 200m world record."
Bolt v Gatlin
If Bolt defends his titles in all three sprint events, he will claim an unprecedentedtriple triple — three gold medals in three events at three Olympic Games.
At the world championships in Bejing last year Bolt won gold in the 200m with a time of 19.55s, well ahead of Gatlin on 19.74s.
The rivals were more closely and more dramatically matched in the 100m. Bolt won by a whisper, out-stepping Gatlin at the line to win by just 0.01s.
Speaking to sports reporters in London, Bolt played up his mental and physical strengths, slighting Gatlin in the process.
“This year it’s not going to be the same. I’m in much better shape, so I won’t leave it to the last second,” Bolt said. “I think I’m definitely a tough competitor mentally. Last year Gatlin was just not ready. It was the first time he was actually being chased. He was usually the one who was chasing. Or he was winning by far, but this time he had a tough competitor, which was me. It was hard for him.”
Earlier this month, Gatlin vowed Rio 2016 won’t be defined as a head-to-head battle between the two speedsters.
“One lesson I learned, especially after Beijing last year, is to stay within myself,” Gatlin said. “The excitement is for the fans and the media, but for me I just have to worry about executing my race in my lane. I got sucked in too much last year, into the hype.”
For his part, Bolt had this to say on Thursday: “I'm looking forward to going down there and doing my best and putting on a show for the whole world to see.”