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.

Mikaela Shiffrin wins final slalom for best career season (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her 12th World Cup race this season and seventh slalom, both personal bests, at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who clinched her second World Cup overall title and fifth slalom season title before the last races of the campaign this weekend, prevailed by 1.58 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener. PyeongChang gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third.

“The slalom has always been really close to my heart,” said Shiffrin, who won the last two slaloms this season after a shocking fourth-place finish in PyeongChang. “To finish with a run like that was super special.”

Full results are here.

Shiffrin matched Lindsey Vonn‘s American record for World Cup wins in one season — 12 — with one more race Sunday. Only Swiss Vreni Schneider has more women’s World Cup wins in a single campaign with 14.

Shiffrin, who turned 23 on Tuesday, also moved into solo fifth place on the women’s World Cup wins list with 43, including 23 victories in the last two seasons.

If Shiffrin keeps it up, she can move into the top three next season, though Lindsey Vonn‘s record 82 is a ways off.

“I’m not thinking about that so much,” Shiffrin said. “It’s way too soon to set that as my goal.”

Shiffrin is also three World Cup slalom wins shy of the record 35 held by retired Austrian Marlies Schild, whom Shiffrin supplanted as the world’s top slalom skier in 2013.

The World Cup Finals conclude Sunday with the women’s giant slalom. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET.

“After today I’m really looking forward to going to the start one more time this season and hammering down,” Shiffrin said.

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Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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