Bolt aims to hit high

NEW YORK. – Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt is eager to reassert his supremacy following an injury-plagued season in which American Justin Gatlin took over as the number one ranked sprinter. “I felt like I’d retired, the way people were talking about Justin Gatlin,” Bolt said with a laugh on Tuesday at the launch of Puma’s Ignite line of running shoes.

“I found it to be funny. Like wow, I’m one season out and it’s like I retired.”

Bolt proclaimed himself fit for the new season, which peaks at the August 22-30 world championships in Beijing on the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics, and said he hoped to resume his record-setting ways.

A relaxed Bolt, who has ruled the 100 and 200 metres in the Olympics since 2008 and holds both world records, said Gatlin just kept his seat warm.

“Justin Gatlin did well, he kept the sport exciting,” the Jamaican said.

“He kept people wanting to see us compete. For me it’s OK, and I’m always looking forward to competition.”

Bolt (28) is scheduled to open his 2015 campaign with a 400 metres in Jamaica at Saturday’s Camperdown Classic, but did not sound keen. “I’m trying to get out of it,” said Bolt, who finds the 400 to be a chore to run.

Bolt wants to focus on the 100 and 200.

“One of my biggest goals is to go sub-19,” Bolt said about the 200 metres and his world record of 19,19 seconds. “That’s one thing I want to accomplish before I retire so I’m pushing myself. I’m working hard and we’ll see what happens.”

Bolt, who also added relay gold to his 100 and 200 Olympic sweeps in Beijing and London, is aiming for a mind-boggling triple Olympic triple. “Just adding to my accolades,” he said. “That’s the key thing. You can only keep making yourself greater by adding great moments.”

Bolt would not venture to rank himself among the greatest athletes over the decades including Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps.

“When you’ve done great things, then people say he’s one of the greatest. All you can do is add to your greatness until it’s time to leave the sport.”

Bolt said his career finish line would come at the 2017 worlds. “They convinced me to go one more year but they won’t convince me to do any more,” said Bolt. “Definitely in 2017 I’ll stop.” – Reuters.

Meanwhile, Bolt will line-up in the 100 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Paris on July 4, the organisers announced yesterday.

The 28-year-old six-time Olympic champion – who is also the world record holder in both the 100 and 200 metres – missed last year’s meeting because of injury and will vie with France’s pole vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie for top billing.

“It is an extremely important image because Bolt attracts non athletics oriented spectators (generally he can add 10-15,000 extra spectators),” French athletics federation president and head of the organisers Bernard Amsalem said.

“And we will have two Bolts in Paris, the original one and then the French version in Lavillenie.”

Amsalem said that they had managed to lure Bolt to run only his third ever 100 metres on the Stade de France track – his first since 2010 as he has run two 200 metres in the interim – after liaising with other meet directors.

“We arranged this with the other Diamond League meetings, as we are all friends,” said Amsalem.

“We have regained the 100 metres which was originally scheduled for the Lausanne meeting and they have taken instead the 200m.”

Bolt, who was only able to compete in four races last year, is set to begin his season – which will climax with the world outdoor championships in Beijing from August 22-30 where he defends his 100 and 200 metre titles – this Friday over 400 metres in Kingston, Jamaica. – Reuters.