Bolt ready to give a good show at the Olympics

With only two months to go before the London Olympics, Usain Bolt is slowing down.

Only off the track, though.

While still only 25 years old, the triple Olympic champion is realising he doesn’t have the energy levels he once enjoyed.

Late nights are out and getting to bed by 11pm is the new regime.

“When you become older it’s the fact you don’t have enough energy like once,” Bolt said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “I could stay up all night and (then) go running, but now it’s not the same. You need enough rest, and for me that’s OK because you learn. You live and you learn.”


I have a goal
The Jamaican sprinter may be known for his relaxed attitude and fun-loving antics, but he’s dead serious when it comes to what actually matters – defending his three Olympic golds in London in August.

“You have to look at it seriously,” he said. “I have a goal, I want to be a legend. And this Olympics, I think, will be the one to make it (so) because it’s in London, it’s central, it’s where everyone is watching.”

Track and field fans are watching every time Bolt runs these days, and they weren’t too impressed with his start to the European season last month. Bolt clocked a downright slow – by his standards – 10.04 in winning a 100m race in Ostrava, Czech Republic. However, the world record-holder’s blistering pace returned on Thursday night, when he electrified the Diamond League meet in Rome with a season’s best 9.76.

“Take my eye of the ball? It was just one of those things,” Bolt recalled in a London hotel, wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt. “I came to Europe and didn’t get enough rest and it was an off day in (Ostrava).

“Now that I know that if I don’t get enough sleep in Europe … I will be off form so I am happy it happened when it happened,” Bolt said. “I wouldn’t call it a blip, but a learning experience.”

Good night’s sleep
And what he learned all goes back to getting a good night’s sleep.

“I try not to sleep in the days, I really try to stay up because that’s the problem,” he said. “Normally when I felt I want sleep I just go to sleep in the middle of the day, and then when night comes I’m wide awake.

“So now I try to stay awake – wide awake – until probably 11, have a shower and just go to bed.”

But his new quest for plenty of rest isn’t going to take anything away from his Olympic experience. Bolt has insisted on staying with the Jamaican team in the Olympic village among the thousands of other athletes during the July 27-August 12 games, even though his star status could possibly become a distraction.

Staying somewhere more private just wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

Stamp my name in history
“People who stay outside the Olympic Village for me are weird because why wouldn’t you want to stay with your friends, with your teammates, laugh and just have fun – play dominos, just chit chat about everything, motivate the other person,” Bolt said. “There are so many things to do in the village and it keeps, it gets you closer to your teammates, it gets you closer to people. You might pick up a few things.”

Bolt is yet to visit the Olympic Stadium where he hopes to “stamp my name in history.”

He hasn’t been avoiding the track. He just doesn’t seem to have been invited.

“I would love to go there,” he said. “I like to walk the track at least once. … For me, I stop at the 100m and look down the straight and then visualise for 20 seconds, 1 minute, just to think about it.”

On Friday, he had to think about it all from a hotel just a seven-minute train ride away from the Olympic Stadium after striking some of his trademark poses on the runway during a launch of the Jamaica kit he’ll be wearing at the games. The green, yellow and black Puma kit was designed by Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley.

How fast can he go?
Bolt established himself as a global superstar in Beijing, winning both the 100m and 200m titles in world-record times, and helping Jamaica win gold and set another world record in the 4x100m relay. His latest world records of 9.58 in the 100 and 19.19 in the 200 were set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

Most people are taking for granted that he’ll win both races again in London – the only question is: how fast can he go?

“Everybody wants 9.4, I heard people talking about running 18 (in the 200),” Bolt said. “So for me, the key is just to take my time, work my way up. I’m 80% now and I’m going to go back home and work on my technique, work on my strength, speed endurance a little bit more and get up to 100%.

“So hopefully when I get to 100% those times could be possible.”

In Beijing, Bolt drew some criticism for completing the 100 race with arms outstretched while pounding his chest, and then marking his triumph in the 200m by putting his face inches from a TV camera, raising an index finger and yelling, “I am No. 1! I am No. 1!”

While he’s likely to go full speed to the finish line this time, there’s no way that Bolt’s natural instinct to be an entertainer will be subdued.

“I give them a show, they don’t mind,” he said. “It’s not like I run, wave and go home. It’s fun at the start line, I’m laughing … there are so many different ways I interact with the crowds. It makes it easy for me, and easy for them to love me.” – Sapa-AP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘Each generation must open doors for the next’ — Desiree Ellis

Desiree Ellis has a deep understanding of the development of women’s football in South Africa. The Banyana Banyana head coach talks to Luke Feltham about how the women’s game has changed over her 40-year career

George’s holiday in Greece with Madiba

In his book 65 Years of Friendship: A memoir of my friendship with Nelson Mandela, George Bizos tells of their only holiday together

Akani Simbine’s Olympic dream deferred, not derailed

The sprinter has to wait a year longer to realise his dream of winning gold in Tokyo to make up for narrowly missing out on the podium in Doha

Athletes count costs as Covid-19 spreads

Comrades winner Bong’musa Mthembu cannot compete because of Covid-19 but is fortunate that he can survive financially. Others are not as lucky as their sources of income have dried up

Olympics halt good for everyone

They took time, but the International Olympic Committee have finally done the responsible thing and postponed Tokyo 2020

Covid-19 red cards major events

Sporting events, from football and tennis to rugby and cycling, on this year’s calendar are in doubt
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday