Usain Bolt said he’s fit enough to successfully defend his Olympic sprint titles in London and predicted the fastest competition in history.
The Jamaican, who won the gold medals four years ago in Beijing and holds the world records in the 100 and 200 meters, arrived in the U.K. capital with his teammates yesterday and said he has had slight injuries to his back and hamstring.
He hasn’t raced since a double defeat to training partner Yohan Blake at the Jamaican national trials, which ended July 1.
“I’ve trained great for the past 2 1/2 weeks and everything is coming together,” Bolt said.
Bolt, who lowered his world record in the 100 to 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, will have to overcome the fastest field in Olympic history to retain his crown.
Three of his challengers -- Blake and former world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica and Tyson Gay of the U.S. -- are the next fastest to have run the distance in the modern Olympic era.
The nearest comparison to the showdown in London was the 1988 final in Seoul, which included three sprinters who held the world record at some time -- Carl Lewis, Ben Johnson and Calvin Smith. That race ended with Johnson of Canada smashing the world record before being thrown out for steroid use.
U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin, who’s also a contender, would have been counted as fifth fastest of all time but the 9.77 seconds he set in 2006 was wiped out when he received a doping ban. He won this year’s U.S. trials ahead of Gay in 9.80.
“Hands down I’m thinking this is going to be one of the fastest 100 meters anybody has ever seen,” said Bolt, wearing his country’s green and yellow uniform and a cap emblazoned with his initials.
The 25-year-old sprinter said he’s focused on “becoming a legend” by retaining his titles in London. His double defeat to Blake at the Jamaican trials was a “wake-up call,” he said.
Blake clocked a personal-best time of 9.75 seconds in Kingston to beat Bolt on June 30 by 0.11 seconds in the 100 meters, a time only Bolt, Powell and Gay have ever eclipsed. He won the 200 meters a day later in 19.80.
“It opened my eyes,” said Bolt, who set the 200-meter record of 19.19 seconds at the Berlin World Championships. “I sat down and decided to re-think a few things.”
Blake won the 100-meter world title last year in Daegu, South Korea, after Bolt was disqualified for a false start.
Bolt, who’ll carry the Jamaican flag at today’s opening ceremony, said there wasn’t one challenger that he feared the most.
“Coming to the championships, I’m not going to think about losing at any point in time,” he said.
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