What will it take to motivate Usain Bolt?


The work ethic of the all-time sports greats has been well-documented through the years: Michael Jordan trained tirelessly every summer to prove his doubters wrong, even after the world began to worship him. Tiger Woods has constantly evolved his game as he’s aged. And Tom Brady famously watches more film than anyone else can stand.

And yet, despite losing to 31-year-old bygone Olympics champ Justin Gatlin in Rome last week, Usain Bolt doesn’t seem any worse for wear. Three days later he was sitting cooly in a box at the French Open, waiting to hand out the champions trophy. It was an opportunity fame had afforded him due to work already done. So why race back to the track for training?

“I would say my determination is not as much as it used to be,” Bolt admitted to the BBC following last week’s loss. “You have to try to find things to motivate you and to push yourself harder. Starting the season was the roughest part for me – trying to drive myself. I am taking my time and working my way there. Every season it goes right back to ground zero.”

To be fair, the race in Rome – a full three years from Rio – was only notable because Bolt lost. And only by 0.01 seconds coming off a slow start to 2013 that was hampered by a mild hamstring strain. Otherwise, he’s won all six Olympic finals he’s competed in between Beijing and London, and all but one world championship race he’s entered, after being DQ’d for jumping the gun in Daegu back in 2011.

He also owns the world records in all three races, so he’s not worried about the 31-year-old bygone champ who will be 34 when Rio comes around. Or about Tyson Gay, who will be 33 in 2016 and has never medaled in an Olympics 100m. Or even young world champ Yohan Blake, who won the race Bolt was DQ’d from, and then beat Bolt twice last year at the Jamaican trials. Bolt took him in London.

Bolt has already dubbed himself a “living legend,” and such high praise, even from your own mouth, makes it difficult to strive for more. So what will it take for Bolt to put in the effort to break his own records? To run 9.4-seconds in the 100m, like he said he one day would? It will take more than a loss. It will take an embarrassment, and one that I’m not sure the current world field will be able to lay on him before his career is done roughly three years from now. And certainly not from a 31-year-old bygone champion.

And if that’s true, we might have already seen the best of Usain Bolt.

Wagner, Asada, Hanyu headline NHK Trophy in Japan; Grand Prix Final berths on the line

Ashley Wagner
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Three-time U.S. national champion Ashley Wagner looks to qualify for her fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final at this weekend’s NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan. A medal of any color should be good enough to get her to Barcelona, but she faces a tough field.

Japan’s Mao Asada returned to competition this season and is poised to qualify for the most elite competition since the Sochi Olympics (where she finished sixth) and 2014 World Championships (which she won). Finishing on the podium would earn a berth to the final for Asada. Also in the field are Americans Mirai Nagasu and Courtney Hicks, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, and one of Russia’s darlings from last season, Anna Pogorilaya.

Olympic champion and last year’s Grand Prix Final winner Yuzuru Hanyu, surely to be the overwhelming crowd favorite in the men’s field, will look to improve his short program results from his other Grand Prix appearance. At Skate Canada, two of his three jumping passes recceived zero points. He rallied in the free skate, finishing second behind Canada’s Patrick Chan. Chan is essentially a lock for the final, while a top three finish would seal the deal for Hanyu.

MORE: Javier Fernandez qualifies for second straight home Grand Prix Final

Other men in the hunt for Grand Prix Final berths competing in Nagano include China’s Jin Boyang and Russia’s Maxim Kovtun, who also need podium finishes to lock up spots in Barcelona. Jin’s and Kovtun’s finishes will likely dictate whether or not American Max Aaron qualifies to the final. More on that process here. No U.S. man has qualified since Jeremy Abbott did it in 2011.

MORE: Jason Brown withdraws from NHK Trophy

Reigining U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim can make the Grand Prix Final with a medal in Japan.

The U.S. is sending three ice dance couples to Japan, of which two have a shot at qualifying for Barcelona. Siblings and Sochi Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani can finish in any 1-2 combination with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue allowing for both duos to qualify for the final. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, U.S. ice dance champions, already qualified.

Icenetwork.com will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Men’s short program — Friday, 2:10 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s short program — Friday, 5:05 a.m. ET (start order here)
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 2:30 a.m. ET
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 5:35 a.m. ET

Inside the #RoadtoRio photo shoots

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NBC Olympics
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Bringing together over 100 Summer Olympians and Olympic hopefuls with puppies, samba dancers and supermodels, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee partnered for an extensive five-day media summit in West Hollywood, Ca. The athletes took part in photo shoots, interviews and video segments all in preparation for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the course of the summit, participants shared behind-the-scenes moments on social media using the #RoadtoRio hashtag. NBC Olympics also launched its official Snapchat account, with the username NBCOlympics. Here are some of the highlights:

Olympians fell in puppy love:


Then got a crash course in Brazil’s signature dance, the samba:


A photobooth with props let the athletes–and even Bob Costas–show off their silly sides:


Olympic fans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Flula dropped by:


In between shoots, athletes from different sports mingled:


The faux-Rio beach was the perfect set:


But these Olympic stars needed only a simple white backdrop to shine:

Wait who is the Olympian here! Linnéa stealing the show at the @nbcolympics #roadtorio

A photo posted by Alysia Montaño (@alysiamontano) on


Follow NBC Olympics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (username NBCOlympics).


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