They call him "Healing Hans", and as Usain Bolt prepared to move on to part two of his Olympic legend-making mission in London yesterday, he singled out Dr Hans Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfhart for getting him on track for a back-to-back sprint double at the Games.
At the Jamaican trials six weeks ago Bolt looked a shadow of his world-beating self as he trailed in behind his training partner Yohan Blake in both the 100m and 200m. It later emerged that he had been suffering from a hamstring problem, related to the scoliosis that has troubled him since his teenage years. It took a visit to Müller-Wohlfhart's sports medicine clinic in Munich to get Bolt in shape to turn the tables in Sunday's 100m final, beating Blake to the gold by 0.12sec in 9.63sec, the second-fastest ever time at the distance.
Both Jamaicans are back on the Olympic Stadium track today for the 200m heats and Bolt will start the clear favourite – thanks in no small part to Müller-Wohlfhart, who forged his reputation as the doctor with the Bayern Munich and German national football teams, and whose unorthodox treatments to speed the healing process have included the injection of calves' blood, extract from the comb of cockerels, honey, plant extracts and goats' blood.
"He's a major part of my success in my career," Bolt said. "I've been going to him since I was 18 or 19. Since I first started, he's really done great work on me. After the trials he looked at my muscles, did his treatment and said, 'Don't worry, Usain. You're going to do great. Just go back and train.'
"He's more than a doctor. He takes me to dinner, looks after me, comes in on weekends to treat me and make sure I'm OK. I thank him for all he has done for me."
Müller-Wohlfhart's reputation has attracted a stellar cast of characters to his clinic: Michael Jordan, Boris Becker, Andy Murray, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jürgen Klinsmann, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Darren Gough, Maurice Greene, Asafa Powell, Arjen Robben, Michael Ballack, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Linford Christie, Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe, Diego Maradona, Will Greenwood, Katarina Witt – Luciano Pavarotti and Bono even.