And the most popular press conference of the week goes to – Usain Bolt. In fact, he is the most popular athlete of the week if the reaction of the Korean crowd is anything to go by.
It was all so reminiscent of how Tokyo greeted Carl Lewis exactly 20 years ago, the same ripples of excitement every time he appeared on the track or even simply on the television screens in shots from the warm-up track or call room.
So how was it for the big Jamaican after breaking the beam in 19.40, the fourth fastest 200m time in history in a season widely regarded as not his best? “I always do my best and run as hard as possible, so I’m happy,” was his initial brief assessment.
And what does he think about in the course of the 200m, double the length of the short sprint where thinking time is more limited? “I take every event seriously, lots of things go through my mind, I keep talking to myself, coaching myself through the race."
“It was a little bit different running in lane three, I don’t think I have ever run in lane three before, normally it’s five or six, there’s a tighter turn. I was slowest out so that is not good, I was a bit tight and more conscious it was not a perfect start.”
His start, of course, has become a point of discussion after his faux pas and disqualification in the 100m. “I have worked hard on my start all season. In the first round of the 100m it was perfect, in the second it was OK? But in the final I think I was suffering from anxiety, I was ready to go and get on the track and run. I think anxiety got the best of me.”
Some news outlets think they found the key when they detected a twitch in the leg of eventual winner and team-mate Yohan Blake who started alongside Bolt. But now Bolt was here to set the record straight.
“It was all my fault. People are saying that Yohan twitched, but that is not the case. Blake has worked hard all season and if anybody deserves to win it was Yohan. Right from the moment he came to work with us he has worked hard.”
Asked whether he agreed that the false start rule should be changed back to what it was, he answered. “The false start in the hundred was my fault, so for me it has taught me a lesson to wait and listen because the gun gives the command.”
So if Blake is working hard, should Bolt not also be working hard? Given his well documented back problems, he felt that there were clear limits to what he could do. “I could not work harder than I do. I know my limitations, I know what my body can take.”
Bolt made an intriguing sign before the start of the race where he indicated a small space between thumb and forefinger. Did that have some recondite meaning?
Apparently, it is from 'Too Fast Too Furious Part Two' (he seemed to recall) when one driver says to the other his engine is too small so calm down. So it’s all part of the jokey Bolt pre-race repertoire.
What was his assessment of the World Championships? Why had there been no World records so far? At this stage in Berlin he had set two.
“It has been difficult here. The majority of the time there has been a negative wind and I have not been in the best of shape, so I think it is a wonderful achievement to run 19.40.”
So say all of us. Considering his season it has been no mean feat.
As for others, including himself in the 100m, there have been “lots of mishaps, a lot of favourites falling by the wayside. In that sense, it has been very interesting.”
But he issued a warning on that count for the coming Olympic year. “A lot of people will be more prepared and focused and they will be ready.”
There is, of course, one race left in Daegu, the relay this evening. Was he looking forward to it? “I always enjoy competing with the team, the guys are ready and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
One thing Bolt wanted to emphasise emphatically was that he had never said he would try the 400m after his short sprint career was over. “The only thing I will say is that I will talk to my coach after the London Olympics and decide then where we go from there. But I have never said I was going to run the 400m.”
Considering his dominance, was it not rather lonely running on his own? But what looks like dominance to the onlooker, is not a view shared by Bolt. “There are plenty of guys running under 20 seconds so it is never lonely,” he said.
Alongside him sat the USA’s Walter Dix, 19.70, and the young Frenchman, Christophe Lemaitre, who had obliterated the French record by 0.36 for a brilliant 19.80, the second fastest European time ever.
Coming back to the false start in the 100m. Would he take it more seriously now and not cavort around as much as he does? “I never stress about clowning around. It is just random stuff. It’s my personality coming out. It is not planned. If it were it would not be fun.”
But what if he had completed the 100m, what time did he feel he would have run? “The way I was feeling, I would have run 9.7 or 9.6.” But he also added that Blake would have run faster than he did in that case, because he had to hold back in the re-run after Bolt had false started. All in all, not bad for a down year. Roll on the relay!
Michael Butcher for the IAAF