Paris, France – Usain Bolt who will run his second 200 metres of the season when he races on Friday (8) at the Meeting Areva – Samsung Diamond League – in Paris’ Stade de France, took time out from his preparations this afternoon to meet the media at sponsor Areva’s HQ in the French capital.
‘Hey Daddy cool’
The Jamaican 24-year-old World and Olympic 100 and 200m champion and World record holder, was appearing in front of a 135+ strong press contingent of writers, photographers and TV crews.
Bolt was in his usual chatty ebullient form which has made him the world’s top sports star off-the-track as well as when he’s competing on it. Today he even took time to have a tongue in cheek joke at his audience’s expense, remarking that as he travelled the circuit he had noticed how laid back and cool the writers’ from one famous newspaper (which will remain nameless) always looked! Now when you’re looking for street cred with the younger members of the family that’s not a bad thing to go home and tell the children, ‘Usain Bolt says your Daddy’s cool’!
“I didn’t look as smooth as usual”
Away from the humour Bolt reflected on his season so far and what he has been doing since he last raced a month ago.
Since his 19.86 sec 200m in Oslo on 9 June, Bolt has been “back to Jamaica. Me and my coach sat down and watched a few tapes (of his opening three races – Rome 26 May, Ostrava 31 June, and Oslo) and we worked on what we needed to work on, and I’m feeling much better, I’m feeling more confident,” confirmed Bolt.
“My technique and fluency wasn’t there my coach says, I didn’t look as smooth as usual. My start was ok but when I got into my drive phase it wasn’t as fluent as it usually is.”
“I’ve been training and training and this (200m) race (in Paris) is all about execution. Executing this race right, that’s all I’m concentrating on in Paris.”
“I’ve got no time on my mind. If I get a good run off the corner and my technique is right it should be a good time. A fast time should come if I get it right.”
“Everyone is doing well”
Of course as well as his Samsung Diamond League race this Friday, the other topic was the forthcoming IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea (27 Aug to 4 Sep) and his prospects for retaining his World titles.
“I’m working to get there, to get back to my best,” the World 100m, 200m and 4x100m Relay champion confirmed. “Everyone is running well posting wonderful times. I’m never going to take it lightly, that’s one thing you should never do, you should never become complacent.”
“I have definitely set a standard for myself which is really high, and it’s hard to come-back from injury. When I was young I got injured and people would say ‘he won’t make it back’, ‘he won’t do well’, ‘his career is over’ but I’m now the Olympic and World champion. For me all I have to do is work hard and stay focussed.”
“It felt good to run 9.91 in my first race back (Rome 26 May) and I ran 19.86 (200m, Oslo 9 June) and I know what I need to do to get back to the top and that’s what I’m working on.”
“I personally don’t look at any one athlete. A lot of people look to me and Tyson but for me everyone is doing well, Asafa (Powell) is doing well, Michael (Frater) is doing well, Steve Mullings is doing well, and so my focus has not changed because Tyson Gay has dropped out.”
Strengthening his back
“I’m working back from injury to get back to the Usain Bolt that everyone knows and loves. I want to retain my titles and become a legend in the sport. That’s my aim, that’s my goal this season and so I’m going to work hard and stay focussed.”
“I got too laid back last season and when I get lazy and take it easy that’s when I get injured. I backed-off doing my back exercises and that’s the reason I got injured last season. I have been doing a lot of work on my back and my hamstrings, on my core work. I have been putting a lot of emphasis on that this year. You should learn from your mistakes, and I have learned.”
And what about Tyson?
“Tyson has been saying that he has been having problems last season and this season. Personally I think Tyson has been pushing himself too much, when you get injured you have to make sure you are fully fit before you start going back into a full workout. Track and field comes with injury and the key thing with injury is that you have got to learn how to bounce back.”
And what about Christophe?
What had Bolt got to say about the fast emerging French fireball Christophe Lemaitre, twice 9.95 sec national record this year, who he’ll meet again on Friday at the Stade de France? What does Bolt think of Europe’s pre-eminent sprinter?
“He’s been running exceptionally well this year. He’s really been putting it down in the last few races and I can say I’m proud of how he’s upping his game and means business.”
But before the local press could begin even imagining matching Bolt’s ebullience in their writing after such flowing praise of Lemaitre, the World champion quickly added, “but it’s going to be a different ball game at 200 metres,” which is the distance at which they’ll race.
There might be a slight statistically closing gap between Lemaitre and Bolt over the straight dash but around the bend of the longer sprint the difference between their PB’s 19.19 and 20.16 remains a daunting chasm to cross.