Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Bolt plans to defend all three Olympic titles

AP, ZURICH, Switzerland

Jamaican Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt looks on behind a soccer ball during a press conference following his visit to FIFA headquarters on Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland.

Photo: AFP

What is left for a man who has won three Olympic sprint titles back-to-back? Win all three again, of course.

Usain Bolt said on Wednesday he is planning to defend his 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

“To actually go to Rio and win again would be a feat in itself,” said Bolt, speaking ahead of the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting in Zurich.

The Jamaican was to run in the 100m yesterday after a world championship sweep of the sprints in Moscow, where he talked of working hard to attain “the greatness thing.”

Most would say he has achieved that already.

He completed the same triple at the Olympic Games in Beijing and London.

“For me, the key thing is just to go to defend my titles, and that’s my focus,” Bolt said. “It would be the first time anybody has ever won three times in a row.”

Bolt became the most decorated athlete in world championships history this month, with his career tally of eight golds and two silvers lifting him above US great Carl Lewis.

Three more golds for Bolt in Rio would still leave him trailing Lewis’ Olympic track and field record of nine golds and one silver.

“I won’t be adding a fourth event in Rio, for sure,” said the 27-year-old Bolt, whose 34th birthday could fall during the 2020 Summer Games.

Bolt’s news conference was held at FIFA headquarters, across the city from the stadium where he was to run yesterday.

Bolt was greeted on arrival by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and later accepted a blue FIFA soccer shirt bearing his name and the No. 9.

Blatter joked that nine seconds was probably the limit for Bolt, whose 100m world record set in 2009 stands at 9.58 seconds.

Bolt suggested he was capable of running in the 9.70s at Weltklasse, where a warm, still evening is forecast.

“I have gotten a lot of rest,” said Bolt, who last year in cool, wet conditions set a Weltklasse meet record of 19.66 in the 200. “This track is always a fast track and I’ve run some fast times here.”

He ran a season’s-best 9.77 in Moscow and rivals yesterday included worlds runner-up Justin Gatlin of the US and Jamaican bronze medalist Nesta Carter.

Though Bolt is the star attraction, the sold-out Letzigrund Stadium will also focus on stellar fields for the men’s high jump and women’s 5,000m.

Last month in Switzerland, Bohdan Bondarenko barely failed to clear 2.41m at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne, which would have lifted him above a cherished record in track and field.

Cuban great Javier Sotomayor’s 20-year-old mark of 2.45m survived another challenge by the Ukrainian when taking the world title in Moscow.

“Many people wait for the world record. I can’t just decide when I jump the world record, or I would do it,” said Bondarenko, who looked forward to competing in a more relaxed setting yesterday. “I think this is good because emotions get in the way of jumping.”

Ethiopian rivals Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba rarely race each other outside of major championships, yet the winners of the past three Olympic titles over 5,000m will clash over that distance in Zurich.

“It’s a prestige-laden race — and yes, it’s very expensive,” said meet director Patrick Magyar, describing his efforts to make the match as perhaps the toughest of his career.

Magyar also accepted Caster Semenya of South Africa, who missed the worlds through injury, into the 800m after taking the word of her coach, Maria Mutola, who holds the record for wins at the prestigious Weltklasse meet.

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