The world’s fastest man is slowing down. Usain Bolt again said he doesn’t plan to run the 200 meters in his final season, realizing that his world record of 19.19 seconds is now likely beyond him.
Speaking Friday in Monaco before picking up the IAAF’s ‘Male Athlete of the Year’ award for a sixth time, the 30-year-old Bolt said he thought he could dip under the 19-second barrier at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But coming off the bend in the final, he felt his legs didn’t have a record-beating performance in them.
“After last season, I kind of figured out that no matter how hard I work at this point, it probably is going to be hard to get the 200-meter world record,” Bolt said.
“And it’s a lot more work and for me, coming to the end of my career, I’m not trying to do too much work.”
He also didn’t sound optimistic about breaking his 100-meter record of 9.58, either.
“If I can go through my season, which I doubt without any injuries, then anything is possible,” he said.
Bolt ruled out a return for the 2020 Tokyo Games. The nine-time Olympic champion said his coach has told him,” Do not retire and come back to the sport, don’t ever do that. So you have got to make sure you are sure.”
“Not to brag or anything, but a lot of people at 30 haven’t accomplished what I’ve accomplished, so, for me, I think I’ve done all I wanted to,” Bolt said.
He made it clear that his last season would be more of a farewell tour than a final drive for more records. He’s targeting a few races in his favorite places: he mentioned Ostrava, Lausanne and Paris.
“This season is pretty much mainly for the fans,” Bolt said. “A lot of people always wanted to see me compete and haven’t had the chance.”
There are some things he is certain he won’t be doing:
He ruled out playing American football, saying he doesn’t want to get hit. He also ruled out switching to bobsled, like American hurdler Lolo Jones, saying “anybody who knows me knows I don’t do well with cold.”
And there is zero chance that he will challenge 800-meter Olympic champion David Rudisha to a race over 400 meters.
“That won’t happen,” Bolt said. “Not even for charity.” Bolt said his immediate plans in retirement are “pretty much to do nothing.”
“No more training. I don’t have to go to the track unless I want to,” he said.
Bolt pinpointed the world championships in 2007 as a turning point in his career. After placing second behind Tyson Gay in the 200, Bolt’s coach told him to get serious.
“’You’re slacking off in the gym. If you want to win you have to get stronger,’” Bolt said he was told. “From then on, I just took the step and worked.”
The next year, he won the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at the Beijing Olympics. He repeated those feats in London and Rio. Bolt thinks he could have done even better had he knuckled down earlier.
“I was asked the question earlier what would I have told my 14-year-old self, and I thought it would be definitely to get serious quicker,” Bolt said. “I think when I was transitioning to being a professional I was relying more on my talent than actually on the work I was doing.”
Although he stressed that it wasn’t a regret, Bolt said that breaking the 19-second barrier in the 200 was probably his only unrealized running ambition.
“It was something that was possible, could be possible, and I missed out on,” he said.
Coming off the bend in the 200 in Rio, he realized it was beyond him.
“In my mind, I genuinely thought that I could have run under 19 seconds until I came off that corner, and my legs decided that we weren’t going to do anything about this,” he said. “It’s just one of those things.”