Usain Bolt insists he wants to win a 12th World Athletics Championship gold medal in London this weekend as a tribute to his late friend, British high jumper Germaine Mason.
The world’s fastest man is set to make his final appearance before retirement at the 10-day competition, which is being held at the former Olympic Stadium from Friday.
Bolt’s main target is to defend his 100m crown – he is also part of Jamaica’s relay team but is not running the 200m – and he was on bullish form at a sponsor event in the City on today.
But he revealed his preparations for his last championships were almost waylaid in early spring, after Jamaica-born Mason’s fatal motorbike accident during a night out with Bolt in Kingston.
“For me it was a rough time. I’d never had somebody pass away that close to me before. It set me back a little bit because I think I didn’t train for three weeks,” he said.
“My coach gave me my space to grieve and get over it but at some point people said ‘I know it’s hard, but you need to get back in training because Germaine wouldn’t want this’.
“He was looking forward to coming to your last race, to see you compete. That really helped me to get going again. It was hard but it became a positive and now I really want to do it also for him.”
Bolt on his form
Bolt said he hoped to bow out as “unbeatable, unstoppable” on Saturday and vowed not to reconsider his retirement if he lost an individual event major final for the first time in a decade.
The eight-time Olympic champion’s 2017 form has been underwhelming but the 30-year-old was unequivocal when asked if he remained the fastest sprinter on the planet.
“Yeah. Without a doubt. If I show up at a championship, you know I am fully confident and ready to go,” he added.
“If my coach is happy, I am confident in my abilities because I know when I go out there I’m ready to go. So I’m fully confident, 100 per cent.
“The last race I ran was 9.95 seconds and showed that I am going in the right direction. I’m going forward so I’m not worried. It’s a championship, it’s a final; it’s about who can keep their nerves. I’ve been here many times.”
Bolt on London crowds
Bolt won triple gold at the London 2012 Olympics – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay – and he revealed he was looking forward to running in front of a British crowd for a final time.
“I think the two best crowds I’ve ever had was London and Beijing,” he said.
“London was good because they came out even in morning sessions. The stadium was always full, and I’ve never seen that before. So I would definitely rank them No1.”
Bolt on his next move
The charismatic athlete admits he will miss the thrill of competition and said he had yet to decide on his next career, but hinted he could be tempted by Hollywood.
“It’s going to be hard because track and field is everything for me, I’ve been doing since I was 10 years old,” he added. “I might go into acting and some action movies, you never know.”