Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, has been wracked with self-doubt ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
After suffering from a hamstring injury in the Olympic trials earlier this month, it’s understandable that the 29-year-old would doubt whether he could compete at the level that he did in previous Olympics where he left his challengers in the dust.
But with the Games being mired in controversy following the ban on Russian athletes following the doping scandal, Usain Bolt knows what he must do. And so on July 27, the 6-5 athlete touched down in Rio de Janeiro to reclaim his throne as the world’s fastest man.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) July 28, 2016
“I know the sport needs me to win – and come out on top,” he said in a report from the Associated Press, “I’m not going to lose one of the golds, for sure.”
When letting his guard down, Bolt sounded less invincible. Weighing on the Jamaican sprinter’s mind is the fear of hitting 30 next month, the toll of injuries – even being caught up in an extremist attack.
Father Time catches up with all athletes, and Usain Bolt is no exception. The older Bolt gets, the longer his injuries will take to heal. It also means he will need to spend more time in training and preperation to maintain his dominance in sprinting.
“My coach always tells me that the older you get it’s going to get harder, and you have to push yourself,” he added.
For his part, the Jamaican sprinter has been bothered by a back injury that doesn’t seem to want to go away. In fact, he admitted that his back had “really deterioriated” over the past few years. That adds to the doubt Usain Bolt is dealing with ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, “but I’m focused and ready to go.”
Indeed, there’s an added pressure for Usain Bolt to bring the fireworks to the 2016 Rio Olympics even as the luster of men’s track-and-field has dulled and women’s athletics is on the rise. He remains one of the most recognizable Olympians to date, and he even has his own emoji to prove it.
— CNN (@CNN) July 26, 2016
There’s also the huge controversy caused by the ban on the Russian track-and-field team after it was found that the state’s sports ministry aided in giving performance enhancing drugs to the athletes.
In fact, an embarassed Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation into the alleged doping involving the Olympic team.
The Kremlin leader said the investigation’s purpose is two-fold: to hold responsible those who have full knowledge about cheating, and to exonerate the innocent athletes who will be tainted by the sweeping allegations.
“Sportsmen who don’t dope – and never have – must not answer for those who break the rules,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, Usain Bolt is the first to admit that men’s atheltics have been lagging behind their women counterparts largely because of poor performance. He said that the men across the board “have really underperformed this season.”
However, he quickly added that under the bright lights of the Olympics, men sprinters will come out and compete.
With age and all his injuries, is it time for Usain Bolt to hang up the laces?
The Jamaican athlete dismissed the speculation as he revealed that his team coach actually offered him a position in the 2020 Olympics if he so desires. “This is why he tells me to stop talking about retirement and just take it a year at a time.”
Also, he said that even if he steps down from the sport, he knows that someone else will hold the mantle. Bolt has already left a legacy. The fastest man alive has set a benchmark for other Olympians to aspire to: beat Usain Bolt’s time.
[Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images]