André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Double world record holder Usain Bolt has sounded a warning to his rivals ahead of the fast-approaching international track and field season. He states that he will be difficult to beat once he remains healthy.
"When I am fit and healthy, I am very hard to beat in any race," Bolt declared confidently, seven months before he looks to defend his Olympic 100m and 200m titles, which he claimed at the 2008 Beijing Games.
This comes against the backdrop of recent comments made by former world 100m record holder Maurice Greene, who is convinced that if last season's performances are anything to go by, then World 100m champion Yohan Blake will get the better of his more celebrated training partner at next year's Olympic Games in London.
Bolt, who was speaking to the Times of India, also used the opportunity to dispel the suggestion that the threat of Blake has been strengthened due to the fact that they train together.
"Yohan has been training with me for the past three years and I have been telling people for all this time that he is really good. I never single out one athlete as a threat - I treat everyone seriously," Bolt noted.
"Training and competition are completely different and cannot be compared when performances are being analysed," he further reasoned.
Bolt has certainly been the dominant athlete of the two, but Blake's 100m triumph in Daegu, followed by his beastly 19.26 seconds 200m run in Brussels shortly afterwards - the second-fastest over distance behind Bolt's amazing 19.19 seconds at the 2009 IAAF World Champion-ships in Berlin, have made him the main contender to the latter's supremacy.
The likes of fellow Jamaican speedsters Asafa Powell - a former 100m World record holder himself - and Nesta Carter, along with American 100m World Championships silver medallist Walter Dix and his compatriot Tyson Gay, who will be returning from injury, will all have something to say about that.
Unseating the World Athlete of the Year will not be an easy task nonetheless, as Bolt, who went unbeaten in his 14 outings last season, is for the first time in recent years reporting for work in prime health, a major - at least for him - heading into an Olympic year.
He said, "2011 has been a good year for me overall. I was undefeated, won the 200m and 4x100m events at the
"I was very happy to get through 2011 without any injuries and was able to resume training fully healthy. If I keep working hard over the next six months, I will be ready for London," he added.
"I want to be a legend in the sport, and defending my Olympic titles will definitely help me in achieving this goal," Bolt noted, once again emphasising his ambitions.
It was not all peachy for the 25-year-old, though, as he surrendered his World 100m title in Daegu after false-starting in the final.
He did, however, make it quite clear that despite the huge expectation of him satisfying his own lofty standards and the threats of rivals new and old, he is not allowing himself to feel pressured going into the new season.
"The only pressure I have is the pressure that I put on myself. The London Games are going to be quite exciting," Bolt underlined.