Sport in brief: Usain Bolt convinced 100m record will be lowered
Athletics Usain Bolt predicted last night that the 100 metres world record will fall again this year and said that he believes it will dip below 9.6sec before man finally reaches his limit. The Olympic 100 and 200 metres champion said: “I know it’s going down because I know Asafa wants his record back.”
Bolt lowered the record to 9.69sec in Beijing last summer and he believes his rivalry with his friend will set new standards.
However, he was less effusive about the prospects of Dwain Chambers gate-crashing the all-Jamaican party after bullish remarks from the Briton about beating Bolt in training in 2006.
‘Fast mouth’ Dwain is just another also-ran, says Bolt
‘Lightning’ expects 100m record to go but first he’ll get streetwise in Manchester
By Simon Turnbull, Athletics correspondent
Sunday, 5 April 2009
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Point made: Dwain Chambers says he got the better of Usain Bolt in 2006. ‘Lots of guys beat me in training,’ Bolt said
It was confirmed on Friday that it will be down Deansgate that Usain Bolt will be running when he comes to Manchester to compete in a special 150m street race next month. It is perhaps just as well. Having forsaken the chicken nuggets diet which fuelled him to three Olympic golds in Beijing, the world’s fastest man might have had a problem hot-footing it down Coronation Street. One whiff of Betty’s legendary hot pot and the Lightning Bolt could well have been jolted out of his stride.
Then again, the mere mortal sprinters who take part in the “Great Manchester 150” on Sunday 17 May would probably be grateful for anything that might slow down the beanpole Jamaican. After all, in the Beijing Bird’s Nest last summer, Bolt’s only rival was the ticking trackside clock. The cartoonist in the International Herald Tribune had it just about right when he depicted the young man from Trelawny Parish sitting in an armchair beyond the finish line, with his gold spikes off and his feet up, enquiring of his still-toiling rivals: “Where have you been?” The question of how to keep up with Bolt is likely to be a conundrum throughout this post-Olympic year – from the streetshow spectacle in Manchester to the World Championships in Berlin in August.
In the 100m final in Beijing, Bolt put his foot on the brakes some 20 metres from the line and still won by 0.20sec, a veritable street (Coronation or other) in sprinting terms – and in the world-record time of 9.69sec. In the 200m he pushed all the way to the line, in pursuit of Michael Johnson’s supposedly untouchable world record of 19.32sec, and won by a whopping 0.66sec, in 19.30sec.
Of course, Dwain Chambers was not among those chasing Bolt’s disappearing shadow in the Chinese capital. The suspension he received for being fuelled by a cocktail of drugs might have ended in 2005, but the British Olympic Association bar on past doping offenders meant the Belgrave Harrier could only watch his one-time training partner from afar.
Chambers won’t be dashing down Deansgate six weeks today – organisers Nova International say they only want Olympic-qualified athletes in the 150m field – but he is eligible to go for gold at the World Championships in Berlin and his form in the indoor season suggests the British sprinter may be the closest thing to a challenger that Bolt will encounter.
Chambers certainly hopes he will be, proclaiming that his sole focus is “beating Bolt” and pledging: “He won’t be doing any showboating with me on his tail.” If the Briton is preoccupied with what he calls “Project Bolt”, the Caribbean phenomenon appears to be wholly uninterested in mapping out an “Operation Dwain”.
Speaking from the Jamaican capital, Kingston, on Friday, Bolt dismissed Chambers’ talking of the talk. “I’ve been hearing a lot of things,” he said. “But, to me, it doesn’t really matter. People can talk a lot of stuff. What counts is when you get on the track.”
So did he think Chambers had been talking too much after hitting the form of his life, aged 30, clocking a European indoor 60m record, 6.42sec, and blitzing to the European indoor 60m title in Turin last month? “Everyone has their way of hyping themselves up, or just making themselves feel good,” Bolt said. “I guess that’s what he’s doing, so I can’t say he’s talking too much. I guess that’s just him. That’s his personality.”
But what of Chambers’ claims of having sometimes got the better of Bolt on the training track in the winter of 2005-06, when the Londoner was out in Jamaica preparing for his comeback season? “That’s training,” Bolt said. “Lots of guys beat me in training. I just go there to do what my coach requires me to do, and that’s it.”
When you get three-quarters of the way in an Olympic 100m final and find yourself in splendid isolation, you probably tend not to worry about who might be over your shoulder. Chambers’ 60m time, 6.42sec, might equate to 9.81sec for 100m – faster than the also-rans in Beijing – but Bolt was clocked flying through the 60m point in the Bird’s Nest in 6.32sec.
The big question is not so much who might close the gap on Bolt but precisely how fast can Bolt go if he pushes all the way in the 100m? The man himself does not seem to be as eager as the rest of the world to discover the answer, although at 22 he can expect to have years of improvement ahead. “I’ve never really thought about it accurately,” he said, when asked to put a figure on his true potential at 100m. “But I do think the 100m world record will go down this year, because Asafa Powell wants it back. It’s going to be very interesting this season. Anything is possible.”
A sub 9.6sec clocking, perhaps? “Well, I definitely think so,” Bolt said. The world has been warned.