Rome, Italy, May 25 – Usain Bolt, the world's most entertaining sportsman, returns to competition at the third leg of the Samsung Diamond League circuit in Rome's Olympic Stadium on Thursday (26).
The owner of both the Olympic and World Championships sprint titles and World 100m and 200m record holder to boot, admits in his initial appearance of the year and first ever outing on Italian soil, that he hopes his performance will produce the dividends of a hard winter’s training.
Bolt pulling no punches at a packed pre-event Compeed Golden Gala press conference, insisted his primary aim when competing at the historic venue will be seeing what shape he is in as he starts his build up to defending his World Championships 100m and 200m titles in Daegu in three months time.
The Jamaican is very open minded about what result he will produce in his 100m clash with fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell – his predecessor as World record holder – and a host of other stars including European 100m and 200m gold medallist Christophe Lemaitre of France.
"I’m not really expecting anything," he told an attentive audience. "I’m just going out there to see where I’m at and see what I need to do for the World Championships."
"I couldn’t say," he answered when asked to forecast his time. "I normally would have but I am blank. I don’t know what time I can run. I am just hoping for the best."
"I have been doing good in training so I am hoping for a good time."
Bolt, glad to be back in Samsung Diamond League action, added: "These meets are stepping stones for the World Championships. Normally I would have done a couple of races already so I could say how fast I could go, so I’m just hoping for the best."
Daegu in August and defending his global titles on his mind, he reiterated: "I’ve said this over the years – records are never my aim. I aim for World championship and Olympic medals. I want to show the world I’m back and I don’t need to break records to show that."
"For me I’m just coming out here to see where I’m at. I feel in good shape. I’m not really expecting anything. I’m just going out there to run my best."
‘Back to business’
Twelve months ago anyone suggesting Bolt would be vulnerable to a defeat by any of his opponents at this stage of the season would probably have had their sanity questioned. But after losing his two-year winning streak of victories to his great American rival Tyson Gay in Stockholm last August, Bolt ended his campaign suffering from problems with his back and Achilles.
The 24-year-old doesn’t see that defeat to the American as a significant factor, although he has huge respect for Gay who proved himself global number one in 2010.
"Absolutely nothing," he said of that defeat. "For me, you win some you lose some. You never win every race in your entire career."
"Last season wasn’t my best season. It was kind of a season of down time for me. So for me, this season is back to business. I’m really focused and ready now. I’m going out there to prove to the world that I’m still the best."
Bolt who like Gay and other sports stars occasionally visits German specialist Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt for a check up, added: "I did stop in Munich to make sure I was ok and the doctor gave me the go-ahead."
"I haven’t really had a problem with my back. I’ve just made sure I got the go ahead from my doctor. I just make sure I have my regular check ups."
No pressure, but ‘slightly nervous’
But he admitted: "I wouldn’t say I’m in perfect shape, but I’m in good shape. I’m looking forward to racing and competing at my best."
The Glenn Mills-coached sprinter, revealing the change in his muscular physique, added: "I think I just put a little bit more muscle on. I’ve been doing a lot of work strength-wise, core-wise. That’s why I might look a little bit bigger maybe."
Bolt lacking competitions, said of his return: "My last race was in Stockholm when I lost to Tyson. I’ve just been training, trying to get back in shape, stay focused, try to get ready for the World Championships. I’ll take my time, try to get everything precise and get back on target."
He revealed of his high profile comeback in a stadium where Gay set the meet record of 9.77sec two years ago: "For me it’s never pressure. I would say for the first time I’m slightly nervous because I haven’t run for so long but I’ve been doing good in training."
The former World Athlete of the Year, added: "I am always calm and relaxed. I am little bit nervous but otherwise I know I am getting into shape, really focused on going out there and doing my best. Things are coming back slowly but surely. I’m just looking forward to going out there and competing – just to feel better to get through a race without any injuries. I should be okay."
"Me and my coach have done a lot of work. So I am not worried, just slightly nervous because it is my first race in a while."