Usain Bolt has warned his rivals he remains the man to beat at the world championships in London, despite what he called a “horrifying” start to his season and some impressive performances from his younger opponents.
Bolt watched with interest as the Olympic 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse ran a wind-assisted 9.69sec in Stockholm last week but laughed at a question about whether he was now worried he could keep up with the 22-year-old.
“Well, I am the fastest man in the world, so I will say yes to that,” he replied.
De Grasse was helped by a illegal wind of +4.8 metre per second – a time that converts to 9.88 with zero wind, or 9.79 with a legal 2.0 wind – and Bolt also pondered why he never got a similar assistance during his career.
“Every time I hear a wind-assisted time my friend NJ always calls me and says: ‘Why are we never this lucky, because we always have a negative wind.’ We have always thought about it. I’ve never been that lucky.”
Bolt, who is running in the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava on Wednesday, admitted he had struggled to handle the emotions of competing in Jamaica for the last time when he ran a modest 10.03sec in his race of the season a fortnight ago.
“I always get nervous for my first race but I was really nervous just with the energy and the amount of people there.
“The only time I have seen the stadium full like that was the girls and boys’ champs so it was emotional to come out and be there in front of my parents and best friends, it was something different.
“Race wise it was horrifying. It was really bad. I didn’t feel smooth as I should have. Bad start. Everything was just not perfect.
“But over time I will feel good and get better. And I think with running two more races for the championships [in Ostrava and Monaco] I will be fine.”
Bolt also had a few words for his old rival Justin Gatlin, who won the 100m at the US trials at the weekend to qualify for the world championships, which begin on 5 August.
“I was actually shocked he won the trials,” he said.
“I knew he would be in the top three but I was shocked he came out victorious. It just shows he is a competitor. He shows year after year that he is not to be taken lightly. I am looking forward to that competition always.”