WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Usain Bolt will try to earn the title of “Fastest Man on Earth” by winning the 100-meter dash at the London Games, just as he did four years ago at the Beijing Games.
But first, he must prove he is the fastest man in his own country.
The sprinter and three-time gold medalist suffered two defeats in three days at the Jamaican National Championships and Olympic Trials at National Stadium in Kingston. Bolt, who finished second in the 100- and 200- meter dashes to training partner Yohan Blake, was plagued by slow starts in both races. Blake is now the top-ranked sprinter in the world in both events.
And it’s Bolt’s job to catch him.
“[Blake] proved himself as one of the greatest and for me, it’s just going back to the drawing board,” Bolt, 25, told reporters. “It’s not like I was blown away or anything so I know what I need to get it right. I was very sad, it was awful. I have been working more on my 100-meter dash. But I can’t blame it on that. I just have to get my things together and just get it done.”
Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, also doesn’t see a reason for concern.
“[Bolt] might be a little off at the moment,” Mills told reporters. “But I’m sure when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.”
In the 100-meter dash, Bolt is the current world (9.58 seconds) and Olympic (9.69 seconds) record holder and also owns both marks in the 200-meter dash (19.30). Overall, he has three gold medals and five championship titles. And while the native of Trelawny had just four weeks to fine-tune his slow starts, one aspect of his game he didn’t need to work on was his confidence.
Still regarded by many as the fastest man alive, Bolt is known for his colorful showmanship, such as using a fire extinguisher on his feet after crossing the finish line, implying he was running so fast they were ablaze.
“At the end of London 2012, I want to go into the press conference and say before anyone asks me a question that ‘You are now looking at a living legend,’” he told reporters. “That’s what I want to say before that last press conference after my 200-meter final.”
Bolt also is active in social media, touting nearly 556,000 followers on Twitter. He tweets everything from pictures of his meals, images of him relaxing before a race to shots of him playing video games with fans.
That’s why Bolt will have much more at stake at next month’s games than just a spot on the medal podium – he will have his global image on the line.
Forbes magazine reported Bolt earned around US$20.3 million the past 12 months as he commands tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals with companies like Puma and Nissan. But Bolt doesn’t just let that money sit in the bank or spend it frivolously. The star runner has established the Usain Bolt Foundation, which helps poor and underprivileged children.
Last month, Bolt and the organization visited the Dare to Care hospice in Spanish Town. There, he interacted with 68 children who are HIV-positive. He donated US$100,000 and signed autographs and handed out PUMA tops, caps and shoes to the children.
“Giving back is just as good as getting,” Bolt told reporters.