Athletics: Fit-again Usain Bolt eager to get back to his best against rivals

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt is eager to re-assert his supremacy, following an injury-plagued season in which American Justin Gatlin took over as the top-ranked sprinter.

"I felt like I'd retired, the way people were talking about Justin Gatlin," Bolt said with a laugh on Tuesday at the launch of Puma's Ignite line of running shoes. "I found it to be funny. Like wow, I'm one season out and it's like I retired."

A relaxed Bolt proclaimed himself fit for the new season, which peaks at the World Championships in Beijing from Aug 22-30, and said he hoped to resume his record-setting ways in the 100m and 200m.

"Justin Gatlin did well, he kept the sport exciting," the Jamaican said. "He kept people wanting to see us compete. For me it's okay, and I'm always looking forward to competition."

Bolt, 28, is scheduled to open his 2015 campaign with a 400m race in Jamaica at Saturday's Camperdown Classic, but did not sound keen. "I'm trying to get out of it," said Bolt, who finds the 400m to be a chore to run. Bolt wants to focus on the 100m and 200m.

"One of my biggest goals is to go sub-19," he said about his 200m world record of 19.19sec. "That's one thing I want to accomplish before I retire so I'm pushing myself. I'm working hard and we'll see what happens."

Bolt would not venture to rank himself among the greatest athletes over the decades including Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps, insisting: "When you've done great things, then people say he's one of the greatest. All you can do is add to your greatness until it's time to leave the sport."

He did, however, say that his career finish line would come at the 2017 World Championships. "They convinced me to go one more year but they won't convince me to do any more," he said. "Definitely in 2017 I'll stop."