USAIN BOLT IS “slightly nervous” for the first time in his career.
The 100m world record-holder will make his season debut in the Golden Gala meet tonight in Rome, running his first race since losing to Tyson Gay last August and ending his two-year unbeaten streak.
Bolt said the loss to Gay changed “absolutely nothing.”
“You lose some and you win some. You never win every race in your entire career. Last season wasn’t my best season. It was kind of my season downtime for me,” the Jamaican said Tuesday. “This season is back to business. I want to prove to the world that I’m still the best.”
After the loss to Gay, Bolt ended last season early because of back and achilles’ tendon problems.
“For the first time I’m slightly nervous — I haven’t run in so long,” the Olympic and world champion said. “I’m always calm and relaxed. As I said I’m a little bit nervous, but I know I’m getting in shape. Me and my coach have done a lot of work leading up to this race.”
Bolt recently got approval to race again from a physician in Munich.
“The doctor gave me the go ahead,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m in perfect shape but good shape, so I’m looking forward to competing.”
Since his last race, Bolt has added more muscle to his frame. He rolled up the sleeve of his shirt and pointed to his flexed biceps during a packed news conference.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work strength-wise, core-wise, that’s why I may look a little different,” he said, noting that he needs to improve his starts. “What has really bothered me over the years is the first 30 meters, because I’m tall. I’ve been working on it.”
Bolt will face fellow Jamaican and former world record-holder Asafa Powell, as well as European champion Christophe Lemaitre at the Stadio Olimpico.
Bolt is also planning to race in Ostrava and Oslo as he warms up for the Aug. 27-Sept. 4 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Since Powell set a world record of 9.74 seconds in Rieti, Italy, in 2007, Bolt has broken the mark three times, the last being a 9.58 at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Bolt has beaten Powell in eight of their nine meetings. Powell’s only win came in Stockholm in 2008.
“Asafa is a great athlete, he’s been in the top three for a lot of years now and he has broken the world record a lot of times,” Bolt said. “He’s going to come out running hard and the competition has always been great between us.”
Bolt was wearing a shirt featuring the logo of the Italian soccer federation, which shares his sponsor, and he was asked about his aspirations to become a soccer player when he quits running.
“I’m definitely serious,” Bolt said. “I’m a football fan for a lot of years now. I think I can do a pretty good job. I could stack up to the (Wayne) Rooneys and so forth.”
Powell, for this part, says he too his nervous about his Diamond League debut.
“Every sprinter, when they’re going to run their first competition, is a bit nervous seeing where they’re at, or if they forget how to run,” said Powell.
“I’m just going out to give my best, just go all out and see what the results will be.”
- additional report AP