Bolt ready to dash for gold double

2008-08-05 00:00

The main contingent of Team South Africa spent the day packing camp in Deagu, South Korea, before their transfer to Beijing as the world’s athletes gather for the 29th Olympics.

Any doubts that Beijing 2008 has failed to attract the world’s strongest, fittest and fastest were dispelled yesterday when the quickest man on earth strode into town for what is the equivalent of the gunfight of the decade in the blue ribbon event.

Jamaican Usain Bolt unexpectedly threw down the gauntlet in New York on May 31 when he took 0,2 seconds from the world 100 metre record, creating the opportunity for him to become the first man since Carl Lewis to win the sprint double.

“It is about 80% certain that I will double here (100 and 200 metres), but I still have to hear from my coach,” said the mildly-spoken 21- year-old. He was subsequently informed that coach Glen Mills had already commited him to both events.

“Well that’s it — I thought I was 80% sure. Now I’m 100% sure I’m doing the double,” said a surprised Bolt, providing clear indication of the respect and credibility he affords his coach of three years.

Together with his sharp-shooting countryman Asafa Powell, the previous king of speed, and American Tyson Gay, they form an unprecedented triumvirate of speed machines.

“I’m aiming for gold — that’s what I am here for and so I am just going to do it. It doesn’t matter if I have the world record if I don’t have the Olympic gold. It’s the biggest competition you can have for yourself and for your country,” said Bolt. “World records can go anytime, but you are Olympic champion for four years.”

“I’m not nervous. I feel ready for the crowd, the stadium and the atmosphere.”

Bolt has been dealing with media pressure since the age of 15 when he won the 200 metres at the World Junior Championships to become the youngest world champion.

“I’ve been working towards this goal for so long — it’s all I think about.”

The 100 metres may be the highest-profile event, but for Bolt, his preference would be the 200m gold, if he can’t get both. And that would be a special present for the man who turns 22 the day after the 200m final.

His task in the second event was made easier when world champion Tyson Gay failed to qualify in the U.S. trials, pulling up with severe cramps in the quarter-finals.

“I hope Tyson gets back on form — if you want to be the best, you have got to beat the best,” said Bolt.

“They will be partying (in Jamaica) if we win gold, and it is impossible to explain what it will be like if I double, let alone if Jamaica win the (4x100) relay.”

Bolt and Powell have been preparing with the rest of the team in camp about two hours outside Beijing, and he puts the Jamaican sprint success down to dedication, hard work and desire.

“We are very competitive in all sports. It really means a lot in Jamaica as long as either Asaf or I win.”

It is a sentiment that South Africans are hoping will be replicated in their squad, which will arrive in Beijing this morning. Once ushered through customs and immigration, they face the hour-long journey into the Olympic Village for final preparations before the Games begin competitively on Saturday.

Norrie Williamson’s air flights sponsored by Allday EnerGIFoods – Constant Carbs are Key.

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