Usain Bolt is back on the European circuit, saying he has learned from his early-season errors and vowing to avoid falling victim to complacency for a second successive summer. "I need to get back to my best," the fastest man on the planet said in Paris yesterday ahead of his appearance in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in the Stade de France tomorrow night. "Tyson [Gay] is not there, but I'm not going to get complacent."
It was confirmed overnight that Gay, the only man to have beaten Bolt in the past two years, had not even made the United States 4 x 100m relay team for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, next month, having already been ruled out of the individual 100m and 200m after missing the US Championships because of a hip injury. "Tyson's been saying he's been having problems for the past two seasons and I think he's pushed himself too much," Bolt said of the American who clocked 9.71sec as runner-up in the wake of his 9.58sec world record run in the 100m final at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
"When you're injured, you have to make sure you're fully fit before you start going back to 100 per cent workouts. Track and field comes with injury. The key thing is to be able to bounce back." Bolt himself has been on the comeback trail this summer. Although he confesses to taking his foot off the pedal last year, without a World Championships or Olympics to aim for ("I was too laid back because it was an 'off' season"), he was also troubled by Achilles tendon and back problems and cut short his season after losing to Gay over 100m in Stockholm in August.
By the standards of his world record feats in the Berlin World Championships, where he lowered his 100m mark from 9.69sec to 9.58sec and his 200m from 19.30sec to 19.19sec, Bolt's performances in Rome and Ostrava in May and in Oslo last month could be said to have lacked spark. Still, as video nasties go, two winning 100m runs in 9.91sec and a 200m victory in 19.86sec are not exactly X-rated.
"Me and my coach sat down after Oslo, watched the tapes and worked out what we needed to work on," Bolt said. "I didn't look as fluid as normal. My start was okay but when I got into my drive phase it was not as fluent as normal and we have done a lot of work on that. I was also carrying a bit more muscle. My coach was not impressed, so I've backed off in the gym.
"The key thing is learning from mistakes. Now I'm feeling much better. I'm more confident now."