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Usain Bolt plans big bash for his Jamaican swansong

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has eight Olympic golds and 11 world titles © AFP / Jewel SAMAD

Kingston, Jamaica, Jun 9 – Usain Bolt says he is looking forward to having a party as he launches his final season Saturday with what will be his last race on Jamaican soil.

The world’s fastest man is headlining an international track and field meet put on in his honour by running in the 100 metres at Kingston’s National Stadium.

“It is going to be a great reception,” said Bolt at a news conference Thursday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. “There is going to be one big party and it is going to be emotional.

“It will be the last time in front of my home crowd. I know it will be loud and the energy will be great.

“For me I am just going to go out with an open mind and see what happens. Jamaica knows when I show up, I give my all.”

The 30-year-old Bolt plans to retire from track and field after the 2017 London World Championships in August.

The reigning world and Olympic sprint champion is going out on top. He says 2017 is about beating his rivals but not about breaking his world records.

“This season is for the fans,” said Bolt. “People want to see you break records. But there is no reason to want to break world records for me this season.

“It is about ending my career on a winning note.”

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Bolt, who comes from the isolated rugged mountain village of Sherwood Content, described himself as a “legend” and most track fans would agree with that description.

– ‘I am a legend’ –

“I think I am a legend,” he said Thursday. “I work hard and I done everything I can to prove myself as one of the greatest athletes ever.”

The Olympic gold medal winner Bolt has a knack for peaking on the biggest stage, but says he couldn’t have done it without his coach Glen Mills.

“Peaking at the right time is credit to my coach. He knows me very well and what I need to do to get there,” he said.

Bolt said he is still figuring out what to do in retirement. His immediate plans are to get more involved in charity work and do some coaching. He has even talked about trying to play professional football but nothing is set in stone.

“There are so many ways which I can go. I want to stay as close to track as I can. I will do charity work and I know I talked about playing football, so we will see.”

Bolt was joined on the podium at the news conference by six other track stars, including British distance runner Mo Farah, six-time Olympic gold medal winner Allyson Felix and world and Olympic 400 metre champion Wayde van Niekerk.

Farah said Thursday that athletes like Bolt only come along once in a blue moon.

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“We realize we might not see it again,” said Farah who will be competing on Saturday in the 3,000m. “People appreciate him now, but only when he’s gone will we really appreciate him.”

Van Niekerk said Bolt deserves the respect of his peers as he signs off for the last time.

“We are here to honour Usain and what he done for the sport. We want to thank him,” said van Niekerk.

Felix added that Bolt had changed athletics “in such a great way.”

“He brought so much entertainment to it along with his record-breaking performances,” she said.

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