NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt is eager to reassert his supremacy following an injury-plagued season in which American Justin Gatlin took over as the number one ranked sprinter.
“I felt like I’d retired, the way people were talking about Justin Gatlin,” Bolt said with a laugh on Tuesday at the launch of Puma’s Ignite line of running shoes. “I found it to be funny. Like wow, I‘m one season out and it’s like I retired.”
Bolt proclaimed himself fit for the new season, which peaks at the Aug. 22-30 world championships in Beijing on the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics, and said he hoped to resume his record-setting ways.
A relaxed Bolt, who has ruled the 100 and 200 meters in the Olympics since 2008 and holds both world records, said Gatlin just kept his seat warm.
“Justin Gatlin did well, he kept the sport exciting,” the Jamaican said. “He kept people wanting to see us compete. For me it’s OK, and I‘m always looking forward to competition.”
Bolt, 28, is scheduled to open his 2015 campaign with a 400 meters in Jamaica at Saturday’s Camperdown Classic, but did not sound keen.
“I‘m trying to get out of it,” said Bolt, who finds the 400 to be a chore to run.
Bolt wants to focus on the 100 and 200.
“One of my biggest goals is to go sub-19,” Bolt said about the 200 meters and his world record of 19.19 seconds. “That’s one thing I want to accomplish before I retire so I‘m pushing myself. I‘m working hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Bolt, who also added relay gold to his 100 and 200 Olympic sweeps in Beijing and London, is aiming for a mind-boggling triple Olympic triple.
“Just adding to my accolades,” he said. “That’s the key thing. You can only keep making yourself greater by adding great moments.”
Bolt would not venture to rank himself among the greatest athletes over the decades including Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps.
“When you’ve done great things, then people say he’s one of the greatest. All you can do is add to your greatness until it’s time to leave the sport.”
Bolt said his career finish line would come at the 2017 worlds.
“They convinced me to go one more year but they won’t convince me to do any more,” said Bolt. “Definitely in 2017 I’ll stop.”
Editing by Frank Pingue