KINGSTON (AFP) – By his own magnetic admission, Usain Bolt is a living legend. But if the Jamaican sprint king pulls off only part of his stated aims in Rio de Janeiro, a completely new vocabulary of superlatives will be needed.
Arguably the best sprinter in history, Bolt already possesses the world records for the 100 meters and 200m.
In London four years ago, he finished an unprecedented “Double Triple” by keeping the 100m, 200m and 4x100m crowns won four years before in Beijing.
“I ‘m now a living legend,” Bolt told reporters imperiously. “Bask in my glory.”
In Rio, Bolt is targeting all three titles once again — a “Triple Triple” — in addition to a fresh 200m record of under 19 seconds which he insists is achievable.
“My biggest wish at the Olympics would be to win three gold medals again. That s my focus, that s what I need,” Bolt said in an interview earlier this year.
“That s the primary goal. Everyone needs me to win but what they actually need to see is records. Among the huge records I need is the 200. What I need is sub-19 — the first guy to ever have done it, it’d be a game-changer.”
it’d require an almost superhuman operation from Bolt to become the first guy to break the 19-second hurdle and it stays the longest of long shots for a guy whose quickest time this year is the 19.89 seconds he ran during the London Diamond League meeting on July 22.
Bolt s guaranteed success in that race prompted a collective sigh of relief across the sports world as he presented his fitness after hobbling out of Jamaica s Olympic trials weeks before with a hamstring injury.
For his many supporters, Bolt is a beacon of ethics in a sport scarred by doping scandals.
At the World Championships in Beijing last year, his 100m confrontation with Justin Gatlin — twice convicted of doping offences — was framed as a struggle of “good versus evil.”
Bolt won that race but will face a renewed challenge in Rio from Gatlin, the quickest guy on the planet over 100m this year.
His competition with Gatlin has been given an extra advantage following comments by the American relating to Bolt s withdrawal from the Olympic trials.
“I laughed when I heard it, I was disappointed, particularly in Justin Gatlin,” Bolt said.
In the 200m another risk will probably emanate from LaShawn Merritt, the season s quickest guy with a time of 19.74sec.
Bolt yet is never more dangerous than when he’s challenged. He’s been wearing the bulls eye on his wide back for the last 14 years since he became the youngest IAAF winner in 2002 at the world junior titles in Kingston.
It was his first world record, 9.72 seconds in the 100m in New York in June 2008 that was to alter the life of the bashful young man from rural Jamaica — who’d shouted and begged not to go to Kingston for the junior worlds six years before.
Bolt was long viewed as a 200m specialist who many believed would finally run the 400m but that never panned out as his lightning speed has kept him at or near the top of the 100m & 200m lists for eight years.
His world records for the 100m and 200m — 9.58second and 19.19second respectively — have stood since 2009. His reign has encompassed 11 world titles, six Olympic gold medals and a long list of accolades.
he’s revealed signs of fallibility yet, with his hamstring necessitating several trips every year to well-known German sports medicine physician Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.
More than anything else it could be the price on his body that’s Bolt vowing to leave the sport after the 2017 World Championships in London.
Before drawing a line under his profession in London yet, there’s next month s Olympic swansong — and the prospect of a history-making ending in Rio.