Usain Bolt, the ‘man in focus’ of Rio Olympics 2016 was already in the Brazilian city even before most athletes, but was yet to make an appearance. He gave the opening ceremony a miss much to his fans’ disappointment who were eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of the fastest man on earth.
But he sure isn’t that easy to be chased after all, given that speed and agility which only seems so natural to him.
After days of trying to capture a sight of Bolt, there he was spotted finally, shimmying amid a troupe of semi-naked samba dancers and wise-cracking with journalists. He indeed is a treat to watch, for you know he can be anything but boring.
The 29-year-old Jamaican sprinter took centre-stage on Monday at his first major press conference since arriving in Rio de Janeiro for his final Games.
“You’ve got to clap much louder than that, that was weak,” a conference beginning with this from Bolt only promises to be entertaining.
Rio’s Cidade des Artes theater was spectating track and field’s greatest showman in his comical best.
“I like to entertain, because that’s what people come out and see. I try to entertain and make it different. That’s my personality.” said Bolt.
This is going to be his last Olympics and this conference was only a reminder of what athletics will lose after a curtain call from the fastest man after the World Championship next year in London.
“This is the last one for sure,” Bolt said when asked if he may yet extend his remarkable career. “I have done enough. I have proven myself over and over again, this is the last one,” he added.
However, he seems only more passionate than ever to achieve the much anticipated ‘Triple-Triple’ and bow out victorious in his last few laps.
In his final Olympics, he bids to win 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles for a third straight Games taking his medal tally to nine gold medals in Olympics since Beijing 2008.
Bolt has emerged a true champion at a time when sports is hit by two major controversies, the Russian doping scandal and corruption allegations against the former leadership of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). “For me, I think we are going in the right direction, I must say,” Bolt said.
“We are weeding out the bad ones. I personally think we are on the right track. We have to go through the rough time to get to the good times. And in a few years’ time the sport will be cleaner and everything will be great. I look forward to that.”
Given the circumstances, Bolt was unconcerned about having to compete against rivals in Rio who are not clean as he is only so confident of his ability and hard work that he has put in.
“I go out there to compete and wow the crowd and entertain. I just want to compete. In life nothing is guaranteed. But for me going out there, I never worry about it. That’s WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and IAAF and IOC (International Olympic Committee), these are the guys that worry about that stuff”, he added.
Bolt is set to face another duel against two-time convicted doping offender Justin Gatlin of USA in both the 100m and the 200m in Rio.
Gatlin, owner of the fastest time in the world this year (9.80 sec), could be the biggest threat to Bolt’s hopes of defending all three of his crowns given the fact Bolt has just recovered from a hamstring injury.
Along with a feat of ‘triple-triple’ what Bolt also desires is to become the first man to break 19 seconds in the 200m, and better the timing up by getting it into the 18 seconds range.
“I think it might be a little bit hard,” said Bolt, who holds the world record of 19.19sec in 200 meters he set in 2009. “As a young kid you grow up looking forward to the big Games. Championships are what matters. This is what I do, I enjoy doing it.”
Usain Bolt is loved the world over for his clean reputation, confidence and outspoken attitude which is just so rare in today’s time. Not long before another champion bids adieu to the sporting world and remains immortal in our memories and those many pages of newspapers given front page headlines.
Just as the press conference was about to conclude when a Norwegian journalist stood up and said: “I don’t really have a question I just want to say I really love you man.” This is indeed the charm Bolt oozes out with his personality that makes everyone around him so comfortable.
Usain Bolt will be seen in action Saturday onwards and the world waits for lightning to strike the Brazilian city.