Bolt Running Down The Don

Bolt eyes Quarrie’s 200m record

PAUL A REID, Observer Writer
Saturday, June 10, 2006

BOLT.injuries are a part of the game of track and field and we just have to deal with them when they come along
MONTEGO BAY - Junior World Record holder in the 200m Usain Bolt has not given up hopes of breaking Donald Quarrie’s nearly 35-year national record of 19.86 seconds, and if things go the way of the 19-year-old, the record will be broken before year’s end.

Bolt, who has a personal best of 19.93 seconds set at the 2004 CARIFTA Games in Hamilton, Bermuda, is coming off his first loss this season after he was beaten by American Wallace Spearmon, the 2005 World Championship silver medallist, at the Reebok Grand Prix meet in New York on the weekend.

Bolt, who is coming off the latest in a series of injuries, won his previous three starts, but said he has fully recovered from the hamstring tear he suffered while running a leg of the mile relays at the Gibson Relays earlier this year.

The former William Knibb Memorial athlete had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia, where he was expected to be one of the top attractions for the 200m event. His compatriot Omar Brown won the 200m event in Melbourne.

Injuries in the past had also caused him to pull out of major events, including the defence of his IAAF World Junior Championships 200m in Grosetto, Italy, in 2004, and an injury in the finals of the 200m at IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, had seen him missing the remainder of the season.

Bolt said while he was disappointed to have missed the Commonwealth Games in March, but he has taken it in stride as the main focus was on the IAAF World Championships next year in Osaka, Japan.

Bolt, who won the Class One 200m and 400m events the last time he competed at Boys’ Champs, said while there was some level of frustrations with the injuries that have prevented the smooth flow of his track career, the “injuries are a part of the game of track and field and we just have to deal with them when they come along”.

In an interview with Sporting World this week, Bolt said he had not stopped his quest to break the oldest record still on the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association’s (JAAA) list, set in August 1971. “This record has been there for a long time and it is time to make a serious go for it.”

Bolt will compete in the inaugural Island Games to be held In New York this weekend, but has yet to confirm his calendar for the remainder of the season. Norman Peart, Bolt’s local manager, told Sporting World that Bolt will continue to train for the rest of the month and will resume competition in July. He could not confirm, however, which meets Bolt would be competing in.

Running some sub-20-second times, Bolt, the two-time national champion, said this will be his main priority this year. “There are no major meets coming up this season, so the plan is to try and run fast.”

He did his season best 20.08 seconds in his first competitive 200m of 2006 at the Meeting Conseil General in Martinique in late April, which was the best in the world for a few weeks until it was surpassed by Spearmon, who ran 20.06 seconds to win at the Adidas Classic in Carson, California, on May 21.

Bolt’s second run and the one he rates as the best so far this season, came at the third Jamaica International Invitational (JII) at the National Stadium on May 7 was marginally slower - 20.10 before winning easily in Ostrava, Czech Republic, last Tuesday in 20.28 seconds before losing to Spearmon in New York on Saturday, running 20.25 seconds to the American’s 20.09 seconds.

His defence of the 200m title at the JII, he said, was good as he had to work hard coming off the curve to catch the fast-starting Tyson Gay, then passed him to win. “Normally, I would start tying up in the stretch, but I was able to stay relaxed and finished the race,” he said.

On Saturday, Bolt appeared to be labouring to catch Spearmon, puffing out his cheeks, and in the stretch when he would normally pull away from the field, appeared not to be able to find the overdrive. This loss, his second to the IAAF World Championships silver medallists, he said, is not necessarily a bad one as it gave him an idea of where he needs to be and what he needs to do.

Asked if this loss would make him work harder, he stated simply: “I always work hard in training and it is now just for me to put my race together to go up against the top runners.”

He added that the loss in New York could have been due to some jet lag as he flew from Eastern Europe to New York, racing twice in five days.

Bolt said he is eager to test himself against the best later on in the season, on the European circuit where he not just hope to win, but also “to get race experience”.