IAAF World Championships: Usain Bolt wants to go out ‘unbeatable’
Usain Bolt and Mo Farah are set to end their glittering career in athletics at the IAAF World ChampionshipsUpdated: Aug 03, 2017 22:23 IST
Usain Bolt is confident he can produce one more magical Midas touch when he seeks to defend his 100m title at the IAAF World Championships.
In eight individual finals at the past four worlds (as well as in four 4x100m relay finals, Bolt has only suffered one hiccup: when he false started in the 100m final in Daegu in 2011.
Eleven world titles to go along with eight Olympic golds: Bolt has the experience of dealing with multi-round big-event racing.
It would be a brave person to bet against the 30-year-old Jamaican, no matter how sluggish, relatively speaking, his season has been so far.
He has had only three outings, all over 100m, and only once dipped under the 10-second barrier, in Monaco last month (9.95sec).
“If I show up at a championships I’m fully confident,” Bolt maintained.
“My coach (Glen Mills) is confident and I’m ready to go. I’m fully confident, 100 percent.”
Whilst labelling himself “for some reason, the underdog”, Bolt fired out a warning shot at potential rivals by saying he wanted to bring the curtain down on his individual exploits as a sprinter who was “unbeatable, unstoppable”.
Bolt suffered a rare defeat in the 100m by two-time doping cheat Justin Gatlin at the Rome Diamond League meet in 2013, losing out by a hundredth of a second.
And the multi-medalled American, now 35, will be in the field in the British capital and a nailed-down contender for a podium place.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and 2005 world champion before serving a ban between 2006-10, won silvers behind Bolt in Beijing in 2015 and Moscow two years previously, and last year became the oldest man to win a 100m Olympic medal when he took silver in Rio, also behind his Jamaican nemesis.
Bolt’s teammate Yohan Blake, world 100m champion in 2011 after the false start, and Gatlin’s compatriot Christian Coleman, who has the season’s fastest time of 9.82sec, should be in the running.
And Canadian Andre de Grasse, South African Akani Simbine and Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut all have a realistic chance of bagging a medal should they safely negotiate heats and keep enough in reserve from Friday’s heats for Saturday’s semi- final and final.
“I love competition, I thrive on competition and I want people to run fast to push me,” warned Bolt, who set the current world record of 9.58sec when he won world gold in Berlin in 2009, his winning times in the last two championships being 9.79 and 9.77 respectively.
“I’m the underdog, for some reason,” Bolt said. “That’s what I keep reading. That’s what my team keeps telling me... I’ve got to prove myself once more.
“My last race was 9.95, which shows I’m going in the right direction. The two rounds (of heats and semi-finals) always help me. I’m always going forward.
“At a championships it’s about who keeps their nerve. I’ve been here before. It’s time to go. It’s ‘go’ time.”
Mo Farah bids adieu
Like Bolt, Mo Farah will bring the curtain down on his track career at the world championships with he hopes a final double golden flourish.
The 34-year-old Somalia-born Briton -- who will switch his focus to road running -- can capture his 10th successive world or Olympic title in the 10000 metres tomorrow.
Then he hopes to bow out in style on the track in London where he achieved his first Olympic double in 2012 with the 5000m on Saturday week.
That will bring to an end a six year spell where like Bolt in the sprints Farah has dominated.
He broke up the previous hegemony of the Kenyans and Ethiopians, lifting his exploits up above those of legends such as Paavo Nurmi, Lasse Viren, Emil Zatopek, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.
However whilst many question how will the sport cope without Bolt and his engaging showmanship -- lightning bolt and all -- perhaps unfairly the same has not been said about the vacuum that Farah will leave in his wake.
Despite his achievements -- Olympic (2012/16) and world doubles (2013/15) at 5000m and 10000m -- the British public have been left largely unmoved.
Only once, in 2011, has he reached the top three in the popular vote for the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year poll.
It prompted British triathlon star Alistair Brownlee to decry the glaring omission for an athlete whose exploits were recognised by Queen Elizabeth II who bestowed a knighthood on him.
“It’s really sad, because for me he is the perfect British story,” Brownlee told The Guardian in December last year after Farah finished only fourth in the poll.
“It’s what we should be about: a person who comes to Britain as a young man, as a refugee, and an ex?schoolteacher (Alan Watkinson) identifies something that he’s brilliant at and he represents Britain as the best in the world.
“I think that’s a fantastic British story.”
Whilst Brownlee put it down to Farah perhaps not being considered British -- he came from war-torn Somalia via Djibouti with his mother (Amran) and two of his five siblings aged eight to England to join their father Muktar -- doping claims made about his US-based coach Alberto Salazar, since proved to be false, may have had an impact.
Farah, though, is used to adversity having been separated from his twin brother Hassan for 12 years until he returned to Somalia for the latter’s wedding.
First Published: Aug 03, 2017 21:13 IST