Usain Bolt tells CNN he can break 100m world record at London 2012
The Jamaican star set the current world record at 2009 world championships
Bolt ran the fastest 100m time of the year at a meeting in Rome on Thursday
Linford Christie says Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin could challenge Bolt
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt has told CNN he can set a new 100 meter world record at the London 2012 Olympic Games – and could run as fast as 9.4 seconds.
Bolt took the 100m gold medal at Beijing 2008 in a world-record time of 9.69s, before bettering that mark one year later with a stunning 9.58 at the World Championships in Berlin.
The 25-year-old, who is also the record-holding world and Olympic champion over 200m, is confident he can become the first man to smash the 9.4 barrier in the British capital in August.
“After my trials leading up to the Olympics, then it depends on where my fitness is,” he said. “If everything goes well, I can determine, how fast I think I can go.
“Everybody has been talking about this 9.4 all season. If it’s possible, I’ll be the one to run 9.4 seconds.”
Bolt was talking to CNN Olympic contributor Linford Christie, a 100m gold medalist at the Barcelona Games in 1992, after recording 9.76 in Rome on Thursday – the fastest time this year.
The Kingston native’s electric performances and exuberant personality have made him a global celebrity, with his “lightning bolt” pose now recognized all over the world.
“I think it was God sent,” said Bolt when asked about the iconic stance. “But it was slightly originated from an archery pose.
“I just copied it and made it my own and it worked. It’s catchy and I’m like the Michael Jordan of track and field really!”
Bolt’s charisma on the starting blocks sets him apart from previous generations of sprinters, who would take a far more serious approach to race preparations.
He revealed how an encounter with U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin, who served a four-year doping ban between 2006 and 2010, influenced his approach to racing.
“For me it never happened until Justin Gatlin,” he said. “I ran once with him in Zagreb, he did something which was really funny to me.
“We were walking back and forward and he actually spat across my lane. And when he did it, I knew he was trying to intimidate me and I found it really funny.
“Today it doesn’t really bother me. I just go there, enjoy myself and relax. It’s just one of those things where over the years the game has changed.”
Bolt suffered a setback at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, when a false start in the 100m final allowed his compatriot Yohan Blake to claim the gold medal.
In London, Bolt will once again face competition from Blake as well as longtime rival Tyson Gay of the United States – the 100m world champion in 2007.
Despite fierce competition, Bolt insists he will be focused on his own race if he reaches the London 2012 final on August 5.
“I can’t really say who’s going to be my main rival but for me the main thing is the seven guys in the lanes beside me,” he said.
“You never know what can happen on the day so I’m really focused and I’m not really worried about one thing or one person.”
Christie believes Bolt can be challenged at the forthcoming Games, but his rivals with have to be confident if they are to capture his crown.
“There’s always a challenge,” the Briton told CNN. “It’s whether they believe enough to challenge him. Does a challenge mean beating him? That’s tough.”
When asked about the biggest threats to Bolt’s dominance, Christie highlighted the American duo of Gay and Gatlin as the men most likely to mount a serious challenge.
“We don’t know what Justin Gatlin is capable of, Tyson Gay hasn’t competed yet. We also need to wait until after the Jamaican trials.”
Christie said the impact Bolt has had on athletics is similar to that of American legend Michael Johnson, a world and Olympic champion over 200m and 400m, while also comparing him to other sporting icons.
“Not meaning it in a horrible way, but he’s one of the freaks in our sport. Michael Johnson came along and everybody thought ‘wow.’
“Muhammad Ali was a freak in his sport, now we’ve got Bolt. Every so many years, someone like that comes along. Pele, Maradona, it’s one of those things.”