Wind or no wind, I'm still the man to beat: Bolt

Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt reacting in mock horror at a press conference for the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava. The Jamaican sprint king will be using the race as warm-up ahead of August's world championships.
Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt reacting in mock horror at a press conference for the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava. The Jamaican sprint king will be using the race as warm-up ahead of August's world championships.PHOTO: REUTERS

OSTRAVA (Czech Republic) • Usain Bolt has warned his rivals he remains the man to beat at the World Championships in London, despite what he called a "horrifying" start to his season and some impressive performances from his younger opponents.

The Jamaican star watched with interest as the Olympic 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse of Canada ran a wind-assisted 9.69sec in Stockholm last week, but laughed at a question about whether he was now worried he could keep up with the 22-year-old.

"Well, I am the fastest man in the world, so I will say yes to that," the 30-year-old replied.

De Grasse was helped by a illegal wind of +4.8m per second - a result that converts to 9.88sec with zero wind, or 9.79sec with a legal 2.0 wind - and Bolt pondered why he never got a similar assistance during his career.

He said: "Every time I hear a wind-assisted time, my friend NJ always calls me and says, 'Why are we never this lucky because we always have a negative wind.' We have always thought about it. I've never been that lucky."

The eight-time Olympic champion, who is running in the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava today, admitted he had struggled to handle the emotions of competing in Jamaica for the last time when he ran a modest 10.03sec in his race of the season a fortnight ago.

"Race wise, it was horrifying. It was really bad. I didn't feel smooth as I should have. Bad start. Everything was just not perfect," said Bolt, who confirmed he would not run the 200m in London. "But over time, I will feel good and get better. And I think with running two more races for the championships (in Ostrava and Monaco), I will be fine."

He also had a few words for old rival Justin Gatlin, 35, who won the 100m at the US trials in 9.95sec at the weekend to qualify for the Aug 4-13 world championships.

"I was actually shocked he won the trials," he said. "He shows year after year that he is not to be taken lightly."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Wind or no wind, I'm still the man to beat: Bolt'. Print Edition | Subscribe