AS WELL AS being the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt might actually be the most confident man on the planet.
Later on this evening, the Jamaican will run his first 200m race in 13 months at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo, but when the time finally comes for him to hang up those running spikes, he reckons that he might be able to do a passable job as a footballer.
For Manchester United.
“I really think I want to try soccer after I retire because I’ve watched football over the years and I think I could be a good contender,” Bolt told BBC Sport ahead of this evening’s race.
I definitely think I’m good enough to play for Manchester United because I’m quick and I have all of the skills. I have to refine it a little bit but I should be good enough.
Before he attempts to play himself into a spot in Fergie’s starting eleven, however, the 24-year-old is focusing all of his energy on this year’s World Championships which begin in Daegu, South Korea, at the end of August.
Bolt won the 100m at his first race of the year in a Diamond League event in Rome two weeks ago and is now aiming to take his recovery up another notch after missing part of last season with Achilles’ and back problems.
“It’s going to be weird, but it should be good,” Bolt said. “I’m definitely going out there to run hard and see what I need to improve more.”
I’m just trying to get my form back together and get back to the old Usain Bolt. I’m just focused on one thing, and that’s the world championships.
Bolt was more diplomat than showman as he fielded questions at a reception at Oslo City Hall a day before the main event.
“I’ve heard it’s a great track and I’m looking forward to going out there and getting a fast time,” he said. “But I need to get in shape as quickly as possible because everyone’s really putting their foot down.”
South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya is also competing as she continues her comeback from a long lay-off for gender test following her victory in the 800 at the 2009 Worlds.
Forced to sit out a year, Semenya said it was tough to bounce back, but is starting to rediscover her best form.
The 20-year-old said the episode placed her under huge mental strain.
“It wasn’t easy to come back after the IAAF ban, but this was the goal,” Semenya said .
Semenya finished second in 1:58.88 at the Diamond League event in Eugene, Oregon, last weekend. But, as the season progresses, she hopes to begin closing in on her personal best of 1:55.45.
In Oslo, I want to remain below 1:58, maybe 1:57 but everything happens in view of the world championships in South Korea. At the Bislett Games, the time is very important, probably more important than first place.
Semenya faces a strong field that also includes Mariya Savinova of Russia, one of the athletes who called the South African’s gender into question at the last worlds.
Former world champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya, with a personal best of 1:56.04, is another leading contender.
– Additional reporting by AP