Bolt out to prove he’s still got it
The Jamaican has not raced since August, when he was beaten by American Tyson Gay.
The American won’t be at the Golden Gala meeting at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico but Bolt’s old domestic rival Asafa Powell, the former world record holder, will be there to provide stiff opposition.
Bolt has made a few changes since he last raced, bulking up on muscle and working on his start.
He says he hasn’t lost any confidence in himself despite that defeat to Gay in Stockholm and now wants to remind everyone who is boss.
“You lose some, you win some, you never win every race in your entire career,” he said. “Last season wasn’t my best, it was down time for me. This season it’s back to business. I’m really focused, I’m ready now and I’m out to prove to the world I’m still the best.”
And although Bolt isn’t used to losing he says nobody should be surprised that he was beaten by Gay.
“Tyson Gay is definitely one of those sprinters that never gives up, he’s really determined,” said the 24-year-old Jamaican.
“He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t party, he’s really focused on what he wants. He’s a complete athlete and a wonderful competitor.”
Gay isn’t running in Rome but Powell is and Bolt doesn’t want to suffer a second defeat to his compatriot.
Powell has beaten him just once in nine outings, and that too was in Stockholm back in 2008.
But while Bolt is the world record holder in the 100 meter and 200 meter, and an Olympic and world champion in both, Powell is the great choker, having never won a major gold medal, even when he was the fastest man in the world.
Even so, Bolt expects tough competition from his friend.
“Asafa’s a great athlete, he’s been in the top three for a lot of years now, he broke the world record many times,” said Bolt.
“He’s great, he’s going to come out and run hard. I’m looking forward to it. The competition is always great between us.”
There’s one more name in the 100-meter lineup who may also compete for a bit of press attention, and that’s Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre.
Last year the 20-year-old became the first white man to run under 10 seconds in the 100 meter and is the current French record holder.
And Bolt believes he has a bright future ahead of him.
“I haven’t been watching a lot of track and field. Since the start of the season I’ve really been focused on trying to get into shape,” said the Jamaican. “But Christophe is a great athlete, he has to focus on himself and not worry about others because if you worry about the others you start making mistakes.
“The key is to work hard and stay focused, in time he will be in the top three or four in the world.”
It’s not just about the men’s 100 meter sprint, though, as two world champions will be going head-to-head in two women’s events.
Americans Allyson Felix, the three-time world 200 meter champion, and Sanya Richards, the 400 meter winner in Berlin two years ago, will do battle twice in one night.
Felix won both events here last year but Richards has won her speciality event four times in five appearances in Rome.
Another star to look out for is women’s high jumper Blanka Vlasic, the double world champion.
한글 관련 기사 [연합]
우사인 볼트 "세계 최고 증명하겠다"
26일 로마 대회 100ｍ 출전
'지구에서 가장 빠른 사나이' 우사인 볼트(25·자메이카)가 단거리 황제 자리로 복귀하겠다고 장담했다.
볼트는 24일 AFP통신과의 인터뷰에서 "이제 최상의 컨디션을 되찾았다"며 "세계 최고임을 증명할 준비가 다 됐다"고 말했다.
집중 재활 훈련을 마친 볼트는 26일 로마에서 열리는 국제육상경기연맹(IAAF) 다이아몬드리그 대회 남자 100ｍ에서 9개월 만에 복귀전을 치른다.
볼트는 지난해 아킬레스건 부상과 허리 통증으로 제 실력을 뽐내지 못했던 터라 이번 복귀전에서 자신의 명성을 입증하겠다는 각오를 보였다.
볼트는 또 2008년 베이징 올림픽 때 자신이 물리쳤던 타이슨 게이(미국)를 높게 평가했다.
볼트는 "게이는 절대 포기를 모르는 스프린터 중 한 명"이라며 "술도 안 마시고 파티에도 나가지 않는 등 오로지 완벽한 레이스를 펼치는 데만 집중한다"고 말했다.
게이는 지난해 8월 다이아몬드리그 스톡홀름 대회 100ｍ 결승에서 9초84로 결승선을 통과해 함께 레이스를 펼친 볼트(9초97)를 0.13초 차로 제치고 우승했다.
볼트는 "선수 생활을 하다 보면 항상 이길 수만은 없다. 이길 때가 있으면 질 때도 있는 법"이라며 지난 시즌 게이에게 분패한 것에 개의치 않는 모습을 보였다.
게이와 함께 '총알 탄 사나이' 3인방 중 하나인 팀 동료 아사파 파월(자메이카)에 대해서도 "그는 세계 기록을 여러 차례 깬 대단한 선수"라고 평가했다.
파월은 이번 로마 대회에 불참하는 게이 대신 볼트와 실력을 겨룬다.
볼트는 이 밖에 '백색 탄환'으로 불리는 크리스토프 르매트르(프랑스)와 관련해 "장래가 유망한 선수"라며 "지금만큼만 집중력을 갖고 경기에 임하면 머지않아 세계 단거리 '빅4' 안에 들 수 있을 것"이라고 말했다.