Bailey backs Bolt to retain 100m title

Usain Bolt strikes his signature pose with cheerleaders at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 21.
Usain Bolt strikes his signature pose with cheerleaders at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 21.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

KINGSTON • Former 100m world record holder Donovan Bailey has backed Usain Bolt to bow out in triumph at the World Championships next month despite his slow build-up to the athletics showpiece.

Bolt logged his season-best time of 9.95 seconds just over a week ago in Monaco, a time beaten by a raft of sprinters this year.

But the Jamaican is still the favourite to win his fourth 100m world title, and with good reason, according to former world and Olympic champion Bailey.

"Anyone that bets against Bolt at a major championship isn't smart," the Jamaica-born Canadian said on Saturday.

"Those athletes have to have a mistake-free race to make (the 100m final) interesting," he said of the 30-year-old Bolt's rivals.

Bolt is ranked joint seventh with Justin Gatlin in this year's times, headed by American Christian Coleman. The National Collegiate Athletic Association winner ran 9.82sec in Eugene, Oregon last month.

Bolt's compatriot and training partner Yohan Blake is second on the list with 9.90sec, ahead of South African Akani Simbine (9.92sec) and Americans Cameron Burrell and Christopher Belcher.

Former Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Ato Boldon, who won the 200m World Championship in 1997, thinks only 2011 world champion Blake has a chance to spoil the world record holder's farewell.

"If Blake is healthy, he can be a real threat to Bolt. I don't know that anyone else this year has shown me that they can be better than Bolt in the last 50m," the 43-year-old said.

Boldon, a four-time Olympic medallist, said there could be no debate about the world's greatest-ever sprinter.

"There isn't anyone who can say that he (Bolt) has not been the best ever," he said. "Jesse Owens was the most important, Carl Lewis made sprinting profitable, but Bolt is the GOAT (greatest of all time)."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Bailey backs Bolt to retain 100m title'. Print Edition | Subscribe