Sports / Newsmakers

Bolt says athletics on right track

By Reuters (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-10 08:22

Jamaican superstar confident his sport can purge itself of specter of doping

Bolt says athletics on right track

Usain Bolt, Jamaica's six-time Olympic champion sprinter, dances the samba while taking a selfie at a team media conference in Rio on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

Usain Bolt waltzed in to sprinkle a bucket of stardust over Rio on Monday, and while there were samba smiles and dancing girls, the biggest name at the Olympics could not escape the ever-present specter of doping.

Bolt, who is gunning for a "triple-triple" in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100m relay, was his usual ebullient self as top billing at an eye-catching Team Jamaica media conference at Cicada des Arts theater.

But he also had to face questions about how and why fans could have any faith in athletics after the battering it has taken over doping in the past 18 months.

"I think we are going in the right direction. People should have faith," said Bolt, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the past two Games.

"We are weeding out the bad ones and I think we are on the right track. We have had to go through a rough time before the good times. But in a few years, the sport should be clean and I look forward to that."

Last year, Bolt edged Justin Gatlin of the United States to win the 100m final at the world championships in Beijing. The race was widely billed as "good versus evil", with the Jamaican "saving" the sport from an athlete back in action after two doping bans.

Asked if fans could believe they were watching a clean race when the two, if all goes to plan, face off in the 100m final on Sunday, Bolt was a touch more diplomatic.

"In life nothing is guaranteed," he said. "But I never worry about drugs. That's for WADA, the IAAF and the IOC. I just go out there to compete, wow the crowd and entertain."

However, Bolt did say he supports the governing body's decision to ban Russian track and field athletes because of the country's extensive state-sponsored doping.

Making a statement

"I think they wanted to make a statement and that's why they really need to show people that if you cheat this is what's going to happen," Bolt said.

"So, for me, if making a statement is going to help the sport, then I will support it because this is what I do.

"This is my sport and I really enjoy competing, and it would be better for my sport if it is clean."

The superstar sprinter, who turns 30 later this month, confirmed Rio will be his last Olympics, but said the lure of the big championships remained strong and in the final weeks of buildup he felt very focused on the tasks ahead.

Bolt certainly had some work to do.

Having missed the 200m in the Jamaican qualifiers because of a hamstring strain, he found he was lagging behind in his preparations.

He managed to fit in a 200m at the London Diamond League three weeks ago, and although he won in 19.89 seconds, it was hardly a smooth performance - something his coach Glen Mills made sure he was aware of.

"I called Glen and he asked me what I thought and I said I thought it was OK ... though maybe not a great bend," said Bolt.

"My coach said, 'No, that was one of the worst races you've ever run. The bend was awful,' And he just went on and on about it until I got depressed."

Because of those missed weeks of training and some rust around the edges, superfast times are probably unlikely for Bolt here, but, as always, he remains supremely optimistic.

"I really want to run (the 200m) under 19 seconds, that's my focus. It will be a little bit hard because I missed out on a few weeks of training, but you never know," said the man who set the world record of 19.19 in 2009.

"Going through the rounds of the 100 always helps my 200," Bolt said.


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