Athletics

'Underdog' Bolt ready to prove himself

Retiring sprint star wants to go out on a high in his swansong event

Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt has labelled himself as the "underdog" as he seeks to round off his glittering individual track career with the defence of his world 100m title this week.

"That's what I keep reading and what my team keeps telling me, so I've got to prove myself again," the 30-year-old said yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a warning shot to pretenders to his crown at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Bolt started this season sluggishly, running two 10sec-plus times before finally hitting some form at last month's Monaco Diamond League.

"The last race I ran was 9.95sec, which shows I'm going in the right direction," he said.

"It's a championships and the two rounds always help me. I've been here many times. It's go-time, so let's go!"

He added: "Usain Bolt has retired unbeaten in an individual event, unbeatable, unstoppable - for me, that would be the best headline!

"If I show up at a championships, you know I'm fully confident and ready to go, and my coach, I'm ready to go."

Bolt refused to single out who would be his closest rival for the 100m, with heats on Friday before the semi-finals and final on Saturday at the same stadium in east London where he won treble gold at the 2012 Olympics.

"The seven people who are going to be in that race with me, they're the biggest challengers," he said.

If I show up at a championships, you know I’m fully confident and ready to go. Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt

Bolt has dominated sprinting since taking double individual gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, going on to win six more Olympic golds and 11 world titles.

He also holds world records of 9.58sec and 19.19sec in the 100 and 200m, both set when winning at the 2009 Berlin Worlds.

Bolt admitted that he hoped his records would last.

"I want to brag to my kids when they're 15, that I'm still the best," he joked.

In a glitzy press conference organised by his long-term sponsor Puma and hosted by Welsh ex-hurdler Colin Jackson yesterday morning, Bolt picked out his world-record breaking victory in the 200m at Beijing 2008 as the standout performance of his career.

"It's definitely Beijing (Olympics), the 200m, because I never knew I could break the world record," he said.

"That was my main dream growing up - I always wanted to be Olympic 200m champion.

"When I broke the record, I didn't know how to react."

And he insisted that motivation was not lacking despite having devoted his life to the track since the age of 10.

"Every year, you find something else to motivate you," he said.

"I love competition, I thrive on competition, and I want people to run fast to push me. I'm comfortable saying I'm a legend because I've proved myself.

"I didn't know I would be 100m world-record holder growing up, I had no idea.

"Anything's possible, you've just got to put it in your head and work for it.

"There are no words to explain what I've done over the years, and I'm really proud of myself." - AFP

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