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Warming up for main stage

india Updated: Jun 27, 2012 14:50 IST
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Usain Bolt’s pre-Olympic European roadshow touches down in the Norwegian capital on Thursday, the Jamaican track star aiming to ratchet up the pressure on pretenders to his double sprint crowns.

Bolt, the reigning Olympic 100 and 200m champion and world record holder in the two events, rebounded from a heavy-legged 10.04sec in the 100m in Ostrava with a blistering 9.76sec in last week’s Diamond League meet in Rome.

“I never doubt my ability, never. People forget, and I keep explaining to people, that athletes have bad days,” the 25-year-old said of his outing in the Czech Republic, which he still managed to win despite posting the slowest 100m time of his senior career, albeit in cold, blustery conditions. “Every athlete can — cricket, football, any sport — you have bad days and that was just one of mine and I got past it and now I'm just moving forward.”

Bolt has seen compatriots Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake and American Justin Gatlin emerge as his closest rivals this season, and says the fact that the trio are also running fast was good not only for him but the sport as a whole.

“The season is still early. Everybody is running 9.8 so that's good competition. 9.7 is also good for me,” he said.

Powell, the former world record holder who has dipped under the 10sec mark close to 80 times, will also be on the blocks at Thursday's Bislett Games for his second race against Bolt in seven days.

Another star of the track will go in the 5000m: Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the reigning Olympic 5000 and 10,000m champion who is battling to rediscover his world-beating form after injury.

Australian world champion Sally Pearson will make her long-awaited European debut after choosing to remain in her native country for the early part of the season after also clinching the world indoor 60m hurdles title in March.

She faces a tough outing in the 100m hurdles against American duo Danielle Carruthers and Lolo Jones, Canadians Phylicia George and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, as well as US-born Briton Tiffany Porter. British heptathlete Jessica Ennis will also compete in her bid to sharpen up for the event.

UAE mindful of Ramadan challenges

Al AIN, uae: United Arab Emirates' soccer playmaker Omar Abdulrahman is unfazed about facing Britain at the Olympics but the All Whites' task of upsetting the hosts will be made harder by the tournament coinciding with Ramadan.

The UAE will start the under-23 tournament against Uruguay at Old Trafford on July 26, before taking on Britain at Wembley and then Senegal in Cardiff in their final group game. These matches will kick off in early evening when the sun is still high in the British summer sky, a major problem for the UAE's Muslim players, with Ramadan demanding the devout do not eat or drink from dawn until dusk.

Fasting will be impossible during and immediately after matches, said Abdulrahman but they are yet to decide whether to fast at other times.

“It's a personal decision - it depends on what it's like there,” Abdulrahman said.