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24 Jul 2009 11:43
Usain Bolt says it will take a bad day on the track for his rival, Tyson Gay, to get the better of him over 100m this year.
The Olympic champion knows that he has not been in perfect shape so far this season—operating at “85%”, as he described it this week—but he still feels he has the upper hand over Gay.
“On my best day I don’t think he’s going to beat me,” said the triple world record holder, before running at the Aviva London Grand Prix this weekend.
In fact it is the American who holds the leading 100m time this year after running 9,77sec in Rome 10 days ago, but Bolt is unfazed by Gay’s recent form.
“I would say I’ll always be faster than Tyson Gay,” said the Jamaican, who ran a season’s best of 9,79 in the rain last week.
Gay will not face Bolt at Crystal Palace on Friday, instead choosing to run the 200m on Saturday and saving the showdown for next month’s world championships in Berlin.
“I actually thought I was going to run against him in London,” said Bolt. “It would have been great to see what I’m at, to see what I need to do, if I need to do anything more before the world championships.”
Did Bolt feel that his rival was avoiding him on purpose?
“I don’t know,” he said, but made his own feelings clear on the subject. “I’ve never backed down from any challenge that’s been put in front of me. Rivalry is always good, I look forward to it, it excites me to know that there’s somebody out there who could beat me. It makes it really intense.”
For Bolt, the real threat lies over 200m. “I think Tyson Gay has a better chance over 200m, I definitely think so. Because I’m taller it’s better for me [in the 100m] so when I hit the top speed I really go faster, so I think it’s going to be really hard for him to get down to the same time because he’s not as tall and his start’s not as good. He’s got to really improve his start to get down to that time.”
Bolt suffered a drawback in his favoured event, the 200m, as a result of a car accident earlier this year in Jamaica, losing four weeks out of his training schedule.
“I couldn’t really run on a corner because I had a bad foot on one side,” he said, “so I didn’t do anything on the curve. My speed endurance is kind of low, but I have a month to work on it.”
Gay has talked about wanting to send a message to Bolt by running 19,5sec in the 200m this weekend, but the 22-year-old does not feel the need to reciprocate.
“I don’t think I need to send anybody a message, really. I already stated my claim at the Olympics and what I’ve done this season. I know Tyson Gay knows I’m a great athlete so I don’t need to run fast to let him know I’m ready.”
There is speculation about just how fast Bolt will run this summer—especially after his coach claimed that he could have run 9.52sec in Beijing—but Bolt says that medals, not times, will be his focus this year.
“It would have been possible in Beijing—anything my coach says I can do I think I can, because he’s seen my potential and he says I haven’t shown my best form yet.
“For me [this season] is about the championship. I think it’s very important to do as well as I did last year to show the world that it wasn’t a joke. I’m the world record holder in both events anyway, so I’m not really worried.”—
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