AP Interview: Bolt slowing down – off the track
With only two months to go before the London Olympics, Usain
Bolt is slowing down.
Only off the track, though.
While still only 25 years old, the triple Olympic champion is
realizing he doesn’t have the energy levels he once enjoyed. Late
nights are out, and getting to bed by 11 p.m. is the new
”When you become older it’s the fact you don’t have enough
energy like once,” Bolt said in an interview with The Associated
Press on Friday. ”I could stay up all night and (then) go running,
but now it’s not the same. You need enough rest, and for me that’s
OK because you learn. You live and you learn.”
The Jamaican sprinter may be known for his relaxed attitude and
fun-loving antics, but he’s dead serious when it comes to what
actually matters: defending his three Olympic gold medals in London
”You have to look at it seriously,” he said. ”I have a goal.
I want to be a legend. And this Olympics, I think, will be the one
to make it (so) because it’s in London, it’s central, it’s where
everyone is watching.”
Track and field fans are watching every time Bolt runs these
days, and they weren’t too impressed with his start to the European
season last month. Bolt clocked a downright slow – by his standards
– 10.04 in winning a 100-meter race in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
However, the world record-holder’s blistering pace returned on
Thursday night, when he electrified the Diamond League meet in Rome
with a season-best 9.76.
”Take my eye off the ball? It was just one of those things,”
Bolt recalled in a London hotel, wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt. ”I
came to Europe and didn’t get enough rest and it was an off day in
”Now that I know that if I don’t get enough sleep in Europe …
I will be off form so I am happy it happened when it happened,”
Bolt said. ”I wouldn’t call it a blip, but a learning
And what he learned all goes back to getting a good night’s
”I try not to sleep in the days, I really try to stay up
because that’s the problem,” he said. ”Normally when I felt I
want sleep I just go to sleep in the middle of the day, and then
when night comes I’m wide awake.
”So now I try to stay awake – wide awake – until probably 11,
have a shower and just go to bed.”
But his new quest for plenty of rest isn’t going to take
anything away from his Olympic experience. Bolt has insisted on
staying with the Jamaican team in the Olympic village among the
thousands of other athletes during the July 27-Aug. 12 games, even
though his star status could possibly become a distraction.
Staying somewhere more private just wouldn’t be nearly as
”People who stay outside the Olympic Village for me are weird
because why wouldn’t you want to stay with your friends, with your
teammates, laugh and just have fun – play dominos, just chit chat
about everything, motivate the other person,” Bolt said. ”There
are so many things to do in the village and it keeps, it gets you
closer to your teammates, it gets you closer to people. You might
pick up a few things.”
Bolt is yet to visit the Olympic Stadium where he hopes to
”stamp my name in history.” He hasn’t been avoiding the track. He
just doesn’t seem to have been invited.
”I would love to go there,” he said. ”I like to walk the
track at least once. … For me, I stop at the 100 meters and look
down the straight and then visualize for 20 seconds, 1 minute, just
to think about it.”
On Friday, he had to think about it all from a hotel just a
seven-minute train ride away from the Olympic Stadium after
striking some of his trademark poses on the runway during a launch
of the Jamaica gear he’ll be wearing at the games. The green,
yellow and black Puma outfit was designed by Bob Marley’s daughter,
Bolt established himself as a global superstar at the 2008
Beijing Games, winning both the 100 and 200-meter titles in
world-record times, and helping Jamaica win gold and set another
world record in the 400-meter relay. His latest world records of
9.58 in the 100 and 19.19 in the 200 were set at the 2009 world
championships in Berlin.
Most people are taking for granted that he’ll win both races
again in London – the only question is: how fast can he go?
”Everybody wants 9.4, I heard people talking about running 18
(in the 200),” Bolt said. ”So for me, the key is just to take my
time, work my way up. I’m 80 percent now and I’m going to go back
home and work on my technique, work on my strength, speed endurance
a little bit more and get up to 100 percent.
”So hopefully when I get to 100 percent those times could be
In Beijing, Bolt drew some criticism for completing the 100 race
with arms outstretched while pounding his chest, and then marking
his triumph in the 200 by putting his face inches from a TV camera,
raising an index finger and yelling, ”I am No. 1! I am No.
While he’s likely to go full speed to the finish line this time,
there’s no way that Bolt’s natural instinct to be an entertainer
will be subdued.
”I give them a show, they don’t mind,” he said. ”It’s not
like I run, wave and go home. It’s fun at the start line, I’m
laughing … there are so many different ways I interact with the
crowds. It makes it easy for me, and easy for them to love
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris