Tuesday, 21 July 2009 Gay doesn’t scare me, says Bolt - London, IAAF World Athletics Tour
London, UK - Usain Bolt insisted today he has some work to do if he’s going to meet the challenge from Tyson Gay at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15-23 Aug).
Despite running 9.79sec in the cold Parisian rain last Friday (17), the triple Olympic sprint champion claimed he is still only at 85 per cent of his best as he prepares for the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace this weekend (25/26).
The Aviva London Grand Prix is a Super Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2009.
Bolt will race the World 100m and 200m champion for the first time this season in London but only in the relay. While Bolt will face fellow Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, plus the new British champion Simeon Williamson, in the 100m on Friday, Gay will go in the 200m.
But the 22-year-old greeted suggestions that he is “running scared” of the American ahead of the World Championships with a bemused laugh.
“Is that what they’re saying?” chuckled Bolt when he learned of a newspaper headline claiming he’s been avoiding Gay, the world’s fastest man over both sprints this year. “That’s definitely not true. I’ve never been scared of anybody in my life and I’ve never backed down from any challenge put in front of me.”
“Rivalries are always good and I always look forward to competing against Tyson. It excites me to know there’s someone out there who is going to challenge me. It’s good for the sport.”
“But I take everybody seriously. Everybody is stepping it up and there’s a lot of good running going on round the circuit.”
Indeed, there is. With Powell running 9.88 in Rome, and Daniel Bailey and Yohan Blake both producing PBs in Paris, it’ll take something special just to make the final in Berlin.
Nevertheless, a Usain Bolt at 85 per cent is still a significant stride ahead of almost every other sprinter in the world, as he showed last Friday when he overcame the rain, a slight headwind and a typically poor start to record his quickest legal time of the year, only 0.02s slower then Gay’s American record set in Rome a week before.
“I’m not in the best shape of my life but I’m still in good shape,” said Bolt. “I’ve got more work to do, especially on the first part of my 100 and definitely on the 200.”
Bolt is making no rash predictions for Friday, despite suggestions that a World record could be on the cards. “You never know with me,” he said. “It should be fast, but let’s see if the weather’s good. It probably won’t be because I seem to be bringing the rain wherever I go.”“
For me it’s not all about the time, it’s about the performance. This is my last chance to see where I’m at and what I need to do before Berlin.”
Bolt, who’s based in west London for the summer, will have vociferous support from London’s large Jamaican community. He has run at Crystal Palace a number of times in his career, including last year when he hinted at what was to come in Beijing with a 19.76 200m victory, but this will be his first 100m at the south London venue.
“I’ve always run the 200m here so I’m looking forward to doing the 100,” he said. “It’s a good track so it should be fast.
“After London I’m going to concentrate on the 200 leading up to the World Championships,” he added. “I feel my speed endurance is low so I need to work on that.”
Bolt says his well-documented car crash in April set him back a month. The resulting foot injury disrupted his 200m preparations, in particular, because he couldn’t handle bends and was restricted to 80m and 110m sessions on the straight.
“I think the 100 should be OK in Berlin, but the 200 will be more challenging unless I get in shape,” he said. “The Worlds are very important to me. They are the biggest championships other than the Olympics. I know it’s going to be hard because Tyson will be defending his titles. But it will be interesting.”
Far from avoiding Gay, Bolt said he would rather line up against the reigning champion in Berlin knowing he’d already got the measure of his rival.
“It would be good to be able to look along the blocks and know that I’ve beaten him. But that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“We will meet soon at the Worlds. I just need to be in top shape.”
Matthew Brown for the IAAF