OSLO, June 14 – Usain Bolt dispelled any concerns over his early-season form by blasting to a convincing victory in the 200m at the Bislett Games.
But the Jamaican sprint star, a six-time Olympic gold medallist and world record holder in both the 100 and 200m, faces the daunting prospect of having to negotiate the Jamaican national trials to compete in the 100m in the August 10-18 World Athletics Championships.
The one big stain on Bolt’s stellar career came in the stifling South Korean heat and humidity of Daegu at the 2011 worlds, a false start seeing him automatically disqualified from the blue riband event of track and field.
Training partner and compatriot Yohan Blake was crowned new world 100m champ and as such earns the right to enjoy a wildcard entry into the Moscow worlds.
It means Bolt returns home for a debriefing with his coach Glen Mills before tackling the ultra-competitive world of Jamaican 100m running, despite having twice run under the qualifying time of 10.15sec already this season.
A top-three finish would see him qualify for the 100m and 4x100m relay team.
There is no need to impress on Bolt the dangers of the national trials, after Blake beat him in the pre-Olympic champs over both distances, although the two are unlikely to meet in the June 21-23 Kingston meet.
“Now I’m heading back to Jamaica and will prepare for the world championships,” said Bolt after his victory late Thursday. “I love to compete at home.
“I’ll go to the trials to try to win, but it’s all about the qualification.”
Bolt certainly impressed over the 200m in Oslo, setting a new Bislett Stadium meet record of 19.79sec despite cold conditions and the fact that European champion Churandy Martina was disqualified for a false start in the lane outside the Jamaican.
“It’s always good to have someone in front of you,” he said. “You can focus on who’s ahead and they lead you through the bend.”
Bolt said the race had left him feeling like he was “in pretty good 200m shape”.
“It’s my favourite event, and the race shows that I’m not in as bad shape as I thought.
“You have to be very powerful to beat me off the curve,” he said, adding that in better weather conditions the race “would definitely have been 19.50sec”.
The victory, with his closest rival, Norwegian Jaysum Saidy Ndure, finishing more than half a second away, was a welcome tonic after his defeat by American Justin Gatlin in the Rome meet of the Diamond League.
That brought his tally to just five losses in his professional career since taking the world of sprinting by storm at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, including defeats by compatriot Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay.
But Bolt insisted that sprinting was not about personal rivalries.
“Year after year, people come to try to beat Usain Bolt. But you cannot focus on one person because you never know who’s going to show up the next day,” he said, citing Gatlin’s loss to Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre just days after his Rome victory.
“You have to focus on putting everything together.
“If I lose a race, it’s back to the drawing board… But I’m never worried about losing a race because at the world championships I show up and get it done.”
He added: “Definitely my goals remain the same: to be the best in the world and win three gold medals in Moscow.
“And my dream is also to break 19 seconds in the 200m.”
Bolt was quick to add, however, that sprinting was “never about the times”.
“It’s all about winning. If I run 20sec flat to win gold at the world championships, I’d be happy.”