Usain Bolt with a Christophe Lemaitre face mask at a press conference ahead of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
General News Paris, France

Usain Bolt: "I know that I draw in the crowds and so much the better!"

Usain Bolt, a six-time Olympic champion as well as the 100m and 200m World record holder, arrived in Paris from Kingston on Tuesday ahead of his outing over 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in the French capital this coming Saturday night (6).

Q: Usain, how do you feel?
A:  Tired, as it’s been a long trip, but I’m in really great shape. I’m feeling better and better with every competition. I’m hoping for a very good race in the 200m on Saturday evening at the Stade de France.

With the World Championships approaching, I need some top class races, to find out where I’m at so as I can place myself in relation to the others and, most importantly, in relation to myself.

Q: How do you rate your season up till now?
A: My first race was not so great. I was lacking energy, but I experienced a similar start to the season last year, before going on to be successful at the London Games.

As such, I see it as a sign. Since then I’ve been pretty happy with my performances in the Jamaican trials. In the 100, the second part of the race, the last 60 metres, was good. The first 40 was a little less good, but I’m going to work on this section of the race. The trials have given me confidence for the next element of the season. And I know that I’m feeling better and better with every performance. Competition fires up my motivation again and enables me to get into a rhythm.

Q: Have you been spared of injury?
A: For now, yes. Injury is part and parcel of this sport. I know that, and I’ve learnt it at my expense; but I’ve also learnt to guard against it. Today, I’m wiser than I was in my early days. I’ve understood that my body needed more attention, that it wasn’t responding the way it used to. I don’t allow myself certain things that I permitted in the past.

Q: After winning it all, what can you expect for the next stage of your career?
A: I want to dominate sprinting until the Rio Games. To dominate the competition, remain the best despite all these young, ambitious sprinters appearing on the scene, all wanting to beat me.

I remember asking Michael Johnson, the year he retired from sport, what he thought of his career. He explained to me his pride at having been able to dominate his sport all the way to the end. My objective is the same.

Q: Do you still feel capable of beating your world records?
A: In major competition, perhaps. Last year, after the London Games, I explained that my aim for 2013 was to get all my speed back. I’ve worked towards that aim. I know that it’s easier to break a world record in a World Championship due to the high stakes, the motivation and the track. I can still do it.

Q: Do you consider yourself to be invincible?
A: No. I’ve never pretended to be. In a race, anyone can be beaten. However, I know that when I’m at the top of my game, in a major final, it’s very, very hard to beat me.

Q: Have you had any news from Yohan Blake and his participation in the World Championships?
A: Yes, I’ve had some recent news. I’m going to keep it to myself though. It’s not down to me to divulge such things.

Q: You’re going to come up against Christophe Lemaitre at the MEETING AREVA on Saturday evening. What do you think of him?
A: I haven’t really been following his season up till now. I do know that he’s beaten Justin Gatlin though. He performs well. I’m not in the habit of focusing on one adversary in particular though. In sprinting, you have to keep an eye on everyone.

Q: How do you react when you learn that your presence alone at the MEETING AREVA attracts 10,000 additional spectators?
A: I’ve got used to it. In my early days, it was hard to get my head around the phenomenon. Over the years though, I’ve seen more and more people coming to stadiums to see me run. Today, I know that I draw in the crowds and so much the better.

Q: Which athlete appears to you to be the most dangerous with a view to the 200m in the World Championships?
A: My seven rivals in the final will be dangerous. They’re all going to be very quick and all of them will be keen to beat me. Tyson (Gay) has run well this season; and the youngsters, Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade, are making progress.

Q: What is it today that still drives Usain Bolt forward?
A: I like competition. I still get just as much of a kick out of it. The more I run in competition, the more I want to surpass myself.

My challenge over the next three years will be to go right to the end of the Olympiad whilst remaining at the top. To achieve that, I’m going to have to maintain the same level of performance season-after-season. I’m ready for it though. I’m working towards that every single day.

Organisers for the IAAF