Struggling Usain Bolt set for toughest race in two years

1 Comment

Usain Bolt said most of his races this year “have been really poor” but insisted confidence for the World Championships next month, saying “I’m not planning to lose” and “it just takes one run to get to 9.7 [seconds shape],” according to reports from his London press conference Thursday.

Bolt spoke one day before he’s scheduled for arguably his toughest race since Sept. 6, 2013, a 100m at a Diamond League meet at the 2012 Olympic Stadium, where three years ago he swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m Olympic titles for a second straight Games. The full schedule and start lists are here.

“When the championship comes, if anybody knows anything about me, I show up,” Bolt said. “I’m not worried about times. … Sometimes I struggle through the season. … But I’m sure when I get to the championships, I’ll always be ready.”

The last two seasons have been a struggle for Bolt, though he hasn’t tasted defeat since June 6, 2013, the longest winning streak (by days, not races) in his career.

He ran 400 meters total in competition in 2014, a season shortened by March foot surgery. He hasn’t raced this season since June 13, citing a leg injury.

And in either year, he hasn’t faced the world’s best sprinters — longtime rivals Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin, the man favored to dethrone Bolt as World 100m and 200m champion in Beijing next month.

On Friday, the 100m field includes two of the seven fastest men in the world this year, France’s Jimmy Vicaut (tied for fourth at 9.86) and American Mike Rodgers (No. 7 at 9.88). That alone makes it tougher than any field Bolt has faced since 2013.

Bolt will also have to race twice, in a preliminary heat and then the final at 4:29 p.m. ET.

The American Gatlin is the only man to run 9.80 or better since the start of 2014, and he’s done so six times. The 33-year-old, five years removed from a four-year doping ban, hasn’t lost an individual race since Sept. 6, 2013.

Bolt’s best time since Sept. 6, 2013, when he beat Gatlin, is 9.98, though he has only raced 100m three times in that span.

Video: Bolt talks Rio 2016, retirement, celebrities with Ato Boldon