Usain Bolt said his coach proposed that he could compete in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo 2020.
Bolt has said for years that Rio 2016 would be his final Olympics and that he might retire in 2016 or after the 2017 World Championships in London.
But he did not rule out Tokyo 2020 in a Jamaican TV interview that aired Sunday.
“We’ll see, because the coach say I can go on to even the next Olympics in 2020,” Bolt said, adding a chuckle and presumably meaning his longtime coach, Glen Mills. “I’m not going to say what I’m going to do, but my coach said I should stop talking about retirement. Let’s just go through those two years and see what happens.
“He said I could, if I wanted to [go to 2020]. I do believe my coach.”
Bolt will turn 34 in August 2020 and be at a similar age to Olympic sprint champions Carl Lewis (35), Michael Johnson (33) and Donovan Bailey (32) at their final Games.
“The older you get, the harder training is going to get,” Bolt said. “So, 32, 33, 34, it’s going to be a lot of work. If I feel I can do it, I will definitely try, but, for me, I want to retire on top of my game. I don’t want to continue when I know I’m not going to push myself hard enough.”
Bolt has long cited a conversation with Johnson, who retired near the top of his game after repeating as Olympic 400m champion at Sydney 2000.
“That’s one question I asked Michael Johnson, why did you retire when you were dominating?” Bolt said. “He said, ‘Listen, I’ve done everything in this sport. I was on top. Why should I continue?’ So you accomplish everything you want to accomplish. At some point, you just say, listen, let me leave the sport.”
Bolt is still hungry. He has stressed he aspires to break his 200m world record of 19.19 seconds.
If Bolt wins three gold medals at a third straight Olympics in August, he will share the record of nine Olympic track and field titles with Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis. The lure of 2020 could include the possibility of holding the record by himself.
Bolt also mentioned Michael Jordan in the interview that aired Sunday.
“He left the sport when he was great [with the Chicago Bulls in 1998], and he came back [with the Washington Wizards in 2001],” said Bolt, who met Jordan at last year’s Super Bowl. “Made a small mark off his career, but he’s still the great Michael Jordan. So I don’t want to push myself in that position, to continue in the sport while everybody is stepping up and I’m going backwards.”
Bolt recently sprained his left ankle in preparation for this season, according to L’Equipe.