Usain Bolt‘s coach said his sprinter “doesn’t have much to worry about” when at his best, referencing American rival Justin Gatlin.
“We take all competitors with a level of seriousness, and I don’t see Gatlin as a joke, but the truth of the matter is Usain at his best doesn’t have much to worry about,” Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, told Reuters.
What Mills did not say is that Bolt has arguably not been at his best since he last broke the 100m and 200m world records in 2009. Certainly not last year.
Bolt, whose 100m world record is 9.59, last summer clocked 10.06 on a Brazilian beach and 9.98 indoors in a Polish stadium and ran two relay legs at the Commonwealth Games. His season started late due to foot surgery and ended early as a precaution going into this year, a World Championships year.
Gatlin, five years removed from a four-year doping ban, had six of the world’s seven fastest 100m times last year, including a 9.77, matching Bolt’s winning 100m mark from the 2013 World Championships.
“It’s good for the sport and creates the kind of interest, but those kinds of things don’t affect us in any way because Usain and myself knows what we can get him to do when he’s fully fit and ready and that’s what we’re working to do,” Mills said, according to Reuters.
Bolt’s next scheduled race is a 100m against American Ryan Bailey, Churandy Martina of the Netherlands and a Brazilian in Rio de Janeiro on April 19.
Also Tuesday, Bolt was announced to be part of the Jamaican team at the second edition of the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, from May 2-3. Bolt did not take part in the debut World Relays last year.
Bolt and Gatlin may not be in the same individual race until the World Championships in Beijing in August.