Bolt plans to defend all 3 Olympic sprint titles
ZURICH (AP) — What’s left for a man who has won three Olympic sprint titles back-to-back?
Win all three again, of course.
Usain Bolt said Wednesday is planning to defend his 100, 200 and 4x100 meter relay golds at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
“To actually go to Rio and win again would be a feat in itself,” said Bolt, speaking ahead of the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting in Zurich.
The Jamaican will run in the 100 meters on Thursday after a world championship sweep of the sprints in Moscow, where he talked of working hard to attain “the greatness thing.”
Most would say he’s achieved that already.
He completed the same triple at the Olympic Games in Beijing and London.
“For me, the key thing is just to go to defend my titles, and that’s my focus,” Bolt said. “It would be the first time anybody has ever won three times in a row.”
Bolt became the most decorated athlete in world championships history this month, with his career tally of eight golds and two silvers lifting him above American great Carl Lewis.
Three more golds for Bolt in Rio would still leave him trailing Lewis’ Olympic track and field record of nine golds and one silver.
“I won’t be adding a fourth event in Rio, for sure,” said the 27-year-old Bolt, whose 34th birthday could fall during the 2020 Summer Games.
Bolt’s news conference was held at FIFA headquarters, across the city from the stadium where he will run Thursday.
Bolt was greeted on arrival by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and later accepted a blue FIFA football shirt bearing his name and the No. 9.
Blatter joked that nine seconds was probably the limit for Bolt, whose 100 world record set in 2009 stands at 9.58.
Bolt suggested he was capable of running in the 9.70s at Weltklasse, where a warm, still evening is forecast.
“I have gotten a lot of rest,” said Bolt, who last year in cool, wet conditions set a Weltklasse meet record of 19.66 in the 200. “This track is always a fast track and I’ve run some fast times here.”
He ran a season’s-best 9.77 in Moscow and rivals Thursday include worlds runner-up Justin Gatlin of the United States and Jamaican bronze medalist Nesta Carter.
Though Bolt is the star attraction, the sold-out Letzigrund stadium will also focus on stellar fields for the men’s high jump and women’s 5,000.
Last month in Switzerland, Bohdan Bondarenko barely failed to clear 2.46 meters at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne, which would have lifted him above a cherished record in track and field.
Cuban great Javier Sotomayor’s 20-year-old mark of 2.45 survived another challenge by the Ukrainian when taking the world title in Moscow.
“Many people wait for the world record. I can’t just decide when I jump the world record, or I would do it,” said Bondarenko, who looked forward to competing in a more relaxed setting Thursday. “I think this is good because emotions get in the way of jumping.”
Ethiopian rivals Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba rarely race each other outside of major championships, yet the winners of the past three Olympic titles over 5,000 will clash over that distance in Zurich.
“It’s a prestige-laden race — and yes, it’s very expensive,” said meet director Patrick Magyar, describing his efforts to make the match as perhaps the toughest of his career.
Magyar also accepted Caster Semenya of South Africa, who missed the worlds through injury, into the 800 meters after taking the word of her coach, Maria Mutola, who holds the record for wins at the prestigious Weltklasse meet.
“If Maria tells me Caster is in shape to beat anybody in this race, I have to believe her,” said Magyar, who has a special send-off planned for a retiring American long jump star.
Dwight Phillips, the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and four-time world champion, will compete in his final competition at the age of 35.