'Good guy' Bolt dismisses Gatlin threat
NEW YORK, New York:
Usain Bolt says he'll be at his best at the World Championships, and he thinks Justin Gatlin talks a lot and is looking to run sub-20 seconds in New York today.
The pacesetting American pair of Gatlin and Tyson Gay may not come across as your regular poster boys, but as track and field's 'good guy', Usain Bolt gets ready to return to the site of his first world record, there's a telling calm as he dismissed suggestions he's fearful of Gatlin's breakneck start to the season.
Bolt has been a virtual spectator over the last two years as Gatlin - who like Gay, was allowed back into the sport after testing positive for drugs, helped himself to the spoils, leading the world with times of 9.76 (100m) and 19.68 (200m) in 2014 before starting this year ominously, with personal-best 9.74 and 19.68.
Gay has also shown that he is in good early form, clocking 9.88 at the recent Prefontaine Classics in Eugene, with the two providing the greatest threat to Bolt's gold medal monopoly. However, not everybody seems to be impressed, with many commentators and fans alike turning up their noses, given the pair's checkered past.
Bolt, who headlines today's IAAF Diamond League New York Grand Prix meet at the Icahn Stadium, laughed at the idea of Gatlin and Gay being considered the sport's 'fastest villains', relished his role and made it clear that he has very little concern with the early form of his rivals.
"Villains? I've never heard that before," Bolt grinned. "I don't know how people see me - if I'm the good guy, but I try to uplift the sport as always, I try to do my best. But it's good to have a villain so we will see."
Bolt's modest season bests of 20.13 in the 200m and 10.12 in his lone 100m to date have left some questioning his form going into this Summer's World Championships, where he will be defending his 100m and 200m titles.
Getting back into form
Admitting that his form is not where it could have been at this stage, Bolt welcomed the challenge, noting that he could hardly miss Gatlin's performances even if he doesn't see him as a threat.
"My form isn't where I want it to be but every day we are working on different things and its coming together. I am feeling better in training and all I need to do is get more races in," Bolt said. "Competition definitely keeps me going, I live and strive off competition. I look forward to competing against the best and it keeps me motivated."
"It's hard not to see what (Justin) Gatlin is doing because he talks a lot and says a lot so I definitely see what he is doing but I am never worried. I have a few weeks to get ready for the World Championships and that's what I am focused on," Bolt assured.