All eyes will be on one man at the Olympic Stadium, London on August 5. The 100m men’s final has always been the showpiece event at the Olympic Games and in Usain Bolt, the sport has the showman it needs.
Arguably the world’s most popular athlete, Bolt will defend his 100m gold against a formidable opposition that includes compatriots and training partners. Four years ago, in an extraordinary display of talent, Bolt cantered across the finish line to grab gold and better his own world record at the Beijing Olympiad.
And then he smashed Michael Johnson’s long-standing 200m world record and the helped Jamaica to the 4x100 relay gold. To say that Bolt is not under pressure to claim an historic double this year is like saying Sachin Tendulkar isn’t burdened by the weight of a nation’s expectations every time he goes out to bat.
His legion of fans were served a minor scare when the sprinter crashed his BMW coupé following a party in Kingston, just days after beating rival Asafa Powell in the 100m event at the Oslo Diamond League competition. Bolt, however, emerged unscathed from the incident.
Twenty-five-year-old Bolt’s biggest challenge at the Games this year will be from his training partner Yohan Blake. The 22-year-old, who is the current 100m World Champion, beat Bolt in the 100m and 200m Olympic trials in Kingston in June and has been blitzing track events in the run-up to the Games. However, Bolt says he is fully focused on defending his titles in London. Here are excerpts from our chat with the man.
You’re the fastest human being in the history of the world. What does a man do after that?
There’s always more to achieve. Right now I am the fastest man in the world, but you never know what’s around the corner. I am going to London to defend my Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, that is what I need to achieve this year.
How much of your ability is natural talent and how hard do you have to try? It looks like it comes so effortlessly.
Don’t be mistaken, I work hard, very hard! My ability is down to a combination of a lot of things – natural talent, good coaching, hard work and execution on the day.
Do you have any lucky charms or pre-race rituals?
I don’t really believe in superstitions or lucky charms, but I do have some pre-race routines just because they help me to stay focused and not get distracted before a race. I try to be myself, have fun and stay relaxed.
What are you going to do when you retire? Still plan to join Man United?
Maybe! Actually, at the moment I am 100 per cent focused on the Olympics this year and my training. I don’t really have time to think about my retirement at this point in my life.
You recently arrived at a club in Oslo by speedboat with two sexy ladies on your arm. Are you a bit of a flashy pants?
The speedboat was something that Puma lined up for me, which was nice. There weren’t sexy ladies on my arm though, just my best friend and my agent. Neither of whom I would describe as sexy or female.
What’s been your most extravagant purchase ever?
Probably cars, I like cars. I recently got a Nissan GTR. That’s one fast car.
You’re recently single. On the lookout? Who is your dream woman?
There are a lot of nice women out there – my dream woman would be someone honest and funny, someone who makes me laugh!
Do you get chatted up a lot or are women intimidated by you?
I would be very surprised if women were intimidated by me, I’m an approachable guy.
Do you ban yourself from the ladies when you’re in competition?
When I’m in competition I am always 100 per cent focused on my training and performance, I don’t have the time to think about anything else.
What’s the best chat-up line anyone has used on you?
Are you Usain Bolt?
What’s the weirdest fan mail you’ve received?
Someone gave me a car door one time.
Do you ever try to disguise yourself when you go out?
No, there would be no point, I’m too tall to ever disguise myself!
What are the best and worst things about being world famous?
Fame is what you make of it. Of course, you spend a lot of your time in the public eye, but that comes with the territory so you have to be relaxed about it and go with the flow.
How would you celebrate gold in this year’s Olympics?
If it happens then I will celebrate with my family and friends, the people who are most important to me, who have helped me with this achievement.
What’s an ideal night out for you?
A night out being able to completely relax with my family and friends, some good music and food and maybe some DJ decks so that I can play a few tunes.
What will you be doing in London if you get a day off?
I don’t think I’ll have much spare time whilst I’m in London. But if I do get some time off, whatever I do will have to be chilled out. The UK is a great place and London is such a multicultural city, it offers something for everyone. The only thing I dislike is the weather when it’s raining, which seems to happen quite a lot right now!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Just be yourself, that’s the most important thing in life.
Talk us through a typical day of training.
My training is about developing power, strength, acceleration and technique so I work on a mix of weight training and sprint training, as well as working on my technique.
When you’re old, will you still keep up the running or let it all hang out?
I don’t think I’ll ever just stop and not do any exercise. Running is in my DNA and will always be a part of
Do you still eat fried chicken and drink the dark stuff or is it all about egg whites and protein shakes?
The odd piece of fried chicken is fine, but very rare for me as I am always in training and then I have to follow a very strict diet.
You’ve got your own restaurant in Jamaica; is this the start of a global empire?
We’ll see! Maybe when I have some more time on my hands I’ll be able to think about it.