MJ: Slow down Bolt

Why Usain Bolt Should Slow Down

By Michael Johnson | NEWSWEEK

From the magazine issue dated Oct 5, 2009

As this year’s track-and-field season ends, one thing is clear: there is no one like Usain Bolt.

Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, and I broke our share of records. And every sport has its young phenom—its Tiger Woods, its Wayne Gretzky, its Michael Jordan—who breaks records and catapults himself into stardom.

But the astonishing thing about Bolt is that he’s just 22 and has achieved every accomplishment possible for a sprinter: he has won world championships and Olympic golds and has broken—indeed, demolished—world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter races.

At the World Championships in Berlin this summer he broke records he himself set at the Beijing Olympics last year by more than 0.1 seconds in each, to 9.58 seconds and 19.1 seconds, respectively.

But now it might be time for Bolt to slow down.

Physically, there is no doubt he can continue to compete, and there is no telling how fast he might go one day.

But mentally, it is a different story. The most difficult thing for a young, accomplished athlete to do is to figure out how to stay motivated.

For an athlete who knows before he even arrives at a race that he’s going to win—and one who has already made money and achieved celebrity status, as Bolt has—one has to wonder: where is the drive going to come from? Yes, he could go faster, shattering records yet again.

But he has done in two years what it takes other athletes, including myself, more than a decade to do. What else is there to accomplish?

Next year is not a world championship or Olympic year, which are the big years in track and field.

So it might be a good year to take time off, focus on charity efforts, refocus on another track event, or just limit the competition perhaps to the Commonwealth Games so that he can participate with his home team, Jamaica.

But there is still another reason why it would be good for Bolt to take a break.

He has rekindled interest in track and field in America, a nation where team sports generally dominate.

But as fast as he is, Bolt will not be breaking records with every race, and over time his speed will begin to take some of the thrill out of watching track events.

After all, with Bolt in the race, we already know who is going to win.

*Johnson, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy (laureus.com), a group of the 46 greatest living sportsmen and women.

I’ve voiced similar questions on here. I wonder how this will turn out for the sport unless Gay, Asafa or some one waiting in the wings can bring the fight to him.

As for individual motivation, this may provide the impetus for him to eventually diversify to the 400m or long jump (less likely, unless he is trying to avoid the 400m).

Besides MJ being too late with the advice to save his own record, the problem is one of history. Imagine if Asafa had worried he was separating from the competition too much. That issue went away in a New York minute last year (pun intended).
We’ve seen Asafa move down his time, albeit slightly last year and Gay make a big 100m change this year with injury issues. What if those issues clear up and Gay drops more?
What if Asafa finally gets it together?

Didn’t everyone say the same thing when Tiger Woods came on the scene? He was too good, he already accomplished a lifetime of wins, others would give up, the game wouldn’t be interesting anymore, etc.? Instead Tiger seemed to raise everyone’s game, showed he is vulnerable to injury and off days, and continues to be the sports big draw especially for casual fans. I think Bolt will/is doing the same.

He’ll definitely be taking it easier in a non-championship year but what will he be doing exactly in training, to take him from 9.5 shape to 9.7 shape? I remember Carl running 10.05’s in '89 and '90 between the more important '88 and '91 seasons. What do they specifically do in the training cycles to ease back a tenth or two?

Haven’t read the article.

Is MJ saying, don’t try your best you are making everybody else look bad?

Yeah that works - NOT

so, run slower to get more motivation? If bolt slows down and starts getting beat running 9.9 or so, i think his motivation will go backwards, not forwards. He has plenty of motivation to keep running fast times.

IMO,usian got away very lucky this year in the car accident.he could have nearly ended his career there and then! usian should keep going as he is and smash all he can because you just never know whats around the corner.

who cares about longevity when you have millions in the bank and set-up for life but most importantly-satisfied with what you did in your chosen career…i think MJ served his time as an apprentice with the english media because all he seems to do now is talk complete BS.

Best advice ever! Never ever take anything for granted. Do what you can whilst you can because there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to do it tomorrow…

What he’s really saying is, ‘Bolt should take time off before he smashes my 400M record and I’m no longer relevant.’

I don’t want to see any athlete ease of. I want track & field to express its basic premise, of discovering exactly what a human is capable of.
And so I hope Usain Bolt gets even faster. I hope his times get so silly and stupefying, that Michael Johnson ends up sounding like a parrot, with nothing knew to say about it.

Great quote

What I would like to see Bolt do next year is to choose one or two meets where he’s likely to get good conditions, peak for these meets as he would for worlds or olympics and then, without having done seven races beforehand, run an all-out 200m. This should give him a real chance of breaking 19s, which would surely make him the legend he wants to be.