Sprint king Usain Bolt aims to crown his legacy with an unprecedented Olympic “threepeat” at the Rio Games, and to top that off by running the first ever sub-19 seconds 200 metres.
The long-striding Jamaican suggested he might not stop there, leaving open the chance he could extend his career beyond the 2017 season he had earlier said would be his last.
Bolt has already swept the 100 and 200m sprints at the last two Olympics and added gold in the 4x100 relays in both Beijing (2008) and London (2012) with his Jamaican teammates.
“Just to defend my titles, to do the threepeat. That’s my main goal. That’s my main focus,” Bolt told Reuters on Tuesday after helping sponsors Hublot open their biggest US fine watch store with a grand opening on Fifth Avenue.
“My secondary goal is to try and run sub-19,” added Bolt, who set the world 200m record of 19.19 in 2009. “That’s something I really want and I hope that everything goes smoothly and I can get it. That would be a big step for me.”
Bolt said he has been gradually rounding into shape after dealing with ankle problems.
“I’m feeling OK,” he said. “My coach says my fitness is not exactly where he wants it to be.
“Starting out this season I had a problem with my ankles and it was a setback but not that bad. We’re getting back on track and he’s happy with the progress I’m making.”
Bolt said he would ramp up his preparations carefully so he can end his Olympic career with a flourish.
“I really want to be at my best leading up to the championships. I have two months before (Jamaican) trials and three and a half months before the championships,” he said.
“I’ll keep pushing myself and hopefully everything smoothes out and I’ll be at my best when the Olympics comes around.”
Bolt said he would run his first race in Cayman, then in Ostrava and then to his coach’s June meet in Jamaica before the trials and then on to the Diamond League meeting in London.
The 29-year-old said his coach, Glen Mills, wanted him to leave the retirement door open.
“Coach says I shouldn’t say I want to retire just yet, I should focus on the year and see how I feel after the (2017) world championships (in London),” said the six-time Olympic gold medallist.
“And if I still feel like I want to retire, I should. But he says to give it a chance, because I think my coach is pushing for me to go a few more years. We’ll see what happens,” he added.
“Personally, I don’t really want to continue for years and years because it’s getting hard. I have to sacrifice more and more. It takes up so much of your time.”
In any event, Bolt said he would not treat 2017 like a farewell tour.
“I’m never going to come out and joke or be a joke in a season. I’m a winner. I believe in winning. I hate to lose. I will never come out and say it is a farewell tour. I will want to compete at my best, go to the championships and win again.”
As for the legacy he hoped to leave the sport he has dominated for eight years, Bolt spoke about another Hublot spokesman, 75-year-old soccer great Pele.
“I met Pele today. For me, it was a dream come true,” Bolt said. “I’ve always said I want to be the greatest. I want to be like Pele and Ali and all those guys.
“I want to be great. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest that have ever done the sport.”