Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - Page 18 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: All eyes on Bolt, despite his seclusion

Photo: Reuters

Sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica poses with his running spikes in the official team uniform beside a traditional routemaster bus outside the British Museum in London on June 1.

Photo: Reuters

Usain Bolt refuses to line up against his good friend Wallace Spearmon in a race.

No way and under no circumstances.

To hear Spearmon tell it, the Jamaican sensation is downright scared and does not think he stands a chance, because the American simply has too much power.

Horsepower, that is.

The two sprinters have similar Nissan GT-R sports cars, but Bolt will not speed down a runway against Spearmon’s vehicle — ever.

“Just won’t race,” said Spearmon, whose car tops out at about 370kph. “He’s seen my car and already backed out. That’s one race I know I can beat him at.”

On the track, it is a completely different story.

When Bolt is healthy, there are few that can keep up with him and while he hardly enters the London Games as the Bolt who was so dominant four years ago, he is still the reigning Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m. He is also still the world-record holder in both events.

That cannot be overlooked or stressed enough, even with the emergence of Bolt’s training partner, Yohan Blake.

“Usain has been so dominant that when he’s not, we see blood in the water,” said sprinter Doc Patton, who is in the US relay pool. “We say: ‘Oh, he’s vulnerable. Oh, he can be beat.’ He’s still the champ. He still takes 41 steps to everyone else’s 44. That’s a big advantage, but I can’t imagine the kind of pressure on him.”

Bolt has been training in seclusion on a track at the University of Birmingham. There is really no way to catch a glimpse with the facility surrounded by thick bushes and patrolled by security.

Even Spearmon cannot get through. He is one of Bolt’s closest friends and he has not spoken to him in nearly two weeks.

Not that he is particularly trying all that hard. Spearmon figures he will see him in the 200m. That is soon enough.

“I’ve got one person to worry about,” Spearmon said. “That’s the only person who can determine what happens.”

Many are thinking the 100m and 200m are shaping up to be a two-Jamaican showdown.

The 22-year-old Blake has the fastest time in the world this season in both sprint events, with Bolt close behind.

If the Jamaican trials were an indication, Blake is setting himself up to steal the show in London as he beat Bolt in both events.

Just do not read too much into it, Spearmon cautioned.

“I know he hasn’t lost in a while, so he has this misperception that he’s invincible, but he’s the first person to tell you that even he can lose a race — and he did. I don’t think it affects his chances at all. I think it gave Blake some confidence, but I think Bolt will be all right,” Spearmon said.

Blake ran 9.85 seconds last week in Switzerland. He definitely had plenty of eyes on him, too.

A few hundred kilometers away in Monaco, Tyson Gay watched Blake run with keen interest in a hotel lobby.

The verdict?

“Yohan looked real strong and real fit,” Gay said. “He’s going to be tough to beat.”

With his surgically repaired hip, Gay is flying under the radar heading into London. He has only raced a couple of times since March.

“There’s no pressure on me,” said Gay, who insists his hip is doing just fine. “I don’t have as much media attention on me. I don’t have to do so many obligations.”

Another sprinter overshadowed by the presence of Bolt and Blake is 2004 Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin, who is back on the track’s biggest stage after a four-year doping suspension.

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