Usain Bolt lines up for his last race before the Jamaican Olympic trials tonight insisting that his early-season wobble is behind him. The 100m world record holder followed his sluggish 10.04sec time in Ostrava a fortnight ago with a 9.76sec win in Rome last Thursday, his joint fastest for three years, and goes into the Bislett Games Diamond League meeting in Oslo without any concern about lingering rust.
"I never doubt my ability – never," Bolt said. "People forget, and I keep explaining to people, that athletes have bad days. Ostrava was just one of mine. I got past it and now I'm just moving forward."
Less than two months away from the London Olympics, Bolt tops the world rankings with his 9.76sec from Rome. Then comes his training partner, world 100m champion Yohan Blake, with 9.84sec, American Justin Gatlin with 9.87sec and Bolt's Jamaican team-mate Asafa Powell with 9.88sec.
"The season is still early," Bolt said. "Everybody is running 9.8, so that's good competition. 9.7 is also good for me. I'm happy with the way it is. I just want to continue working hard and run faster, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready to go."
The 100m field in the Norwegian capital tonight includes Britons Mark Lewis-Francis and Marlon Devonish, and Powell, who finished runner-up to Bolt in Rome in 9.91sec. "It was a good duel between Powell and me in Rome," Bolt said. "I know he is going to be strong in the start."
There will be a strong British contingent in Oslo. Fresh from her British heptathlon record at Götzis in Austria the weekend before last, Jessica Ennis tests her 100m hurdles form against a world-class field of specialists that includes world champion Sally Pearson from Australia and British record holder Tiffany Porter.
Phillips Idowu has withdrawn from the triple jump as a precautionary measure after suffering a minor foot injury at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene last weekend but world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene returns to action after missing the Golden Gala in Rome because of a virus. The Welshman faces 2012 world leader Javier Culson, of Puerto Rico.
The women's long jump includes Shara Proctor, who moved to fifth in the world rankings with a 6.84m leap in Eugene.