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Page last updated at 02:09 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 03:09 UK

Ten to watch: Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

By Ollie Williams

With Usain Bolt having smashed the 100m world record with his gold medal run on Saturday, he now has the opportunity to become the face of the Beijing Olympics if he takes the gold in the 200m as well.

A sprint double is well within the limits of the 100m world record-holder, who broke the record he stole himself from fellow Jamaican and Beijing rival Asafa Powell in May.

"The Olympics is the biggest thing," says Bolt. "Tomorrow if someone comes and runs faster than me I'm no longer the fastest man in the world.

"If you're the Olympic champion then they have to wait four more years to get you again."


Born: 21 August 1986, Trelawny, Jamaica
Trains: University of Technology, Jamaica
Career highlights: 200m and 4x100m relay silver at 2007 World Championships
Personal best: 100m in 9.72 seconds, world record


2008 form: Bolt became the new 100m world record holder with his gold medal run, despite the event playing a distinct second fiddle to the 200m in his career to date - he has run only a handful of senior 100m races. Nor will the Olympics' glamour race distract the Jamaican from his original mission, as Bolt still prizes the 200m crown.

"After getting silver at the World Championships I have matured a lot," he said in June. "I was serious last year - well I am more serious now, because I really want it."

Usain Bolt (left) with Tyson Gay
Bolt (left) and Tyson Gay should be close Olympic 100m rivals
Rivals: Fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell and the US's Tyson Gay were expected to give Bold a run for his money in the 100m, but he opened up metres of clear ground before he crossed the finish line.

"For someone else from our country to come through is very exciting," says Powell of Bolt. "It's good competition, this is one of the most exciting times in track and field."

US duo Walter Dix and Shawn Crawford, the latter a gold medallist in Athens, should be Bolt's main challengers in the 200m - but Bolt's fastest time this year, 19.67 seconds, is two-tenths of a second ahead of anyone else in the world.

How he could win: Bolt is famous for his relaxed attitude to competing. "The night before I decide what I need to do," he says. "Then on the day I just try to relax, think about other stuff, maybe cars or something. If you think about racing too much you may just lose it a little bit."

Bolt, who professed not to have tried for the world record when he first broke it in May, has incredible pace once into his stride, and says he has been working hard on his speed out of the blocks.

What he says: "I have dedicated my life to the 200m, I really love the 200m a lot. I think I have a good chance in the 200m and 100m."

What you say: "Usain Bolt is one to watch in the 200m. I am British and my wife is Jamaican, so the Olympics will be a fierce contest in our house."
caesarsathlete on the BBC Olympics Blog

Usain Bolt
Bolt broke fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell's 100m world record in May
Sporting high: Smashing Powell's previous mark to enter the Games as the fastest man on the planet.

"I knew I had a good start," said Bolt. "I have been working hard on my start, that was my weak point. I knew exactly from out of the blocks I got a good start."

Sporting low: Leg injuries kept Bolt quiet throughout 2004 and 2005, otherwise the sprinter might already have had a couple of years at the very top of his game.

Bolt's achievements have sometimes been overshadowed by a public suspicion of top track athletes following a series of doping scandals across the globe.

"It does not affect me, I try to focus on my own running and lead by example," says Bolt. "I just stay clean and do my best."

In action: 15-20 August
The 200m heats begin on Monday, 18 August, with the final at 1520 BST on Wednesday, 20 August. He celebrates his 22nd birthday a day later.


Life before sport: Growing up in Jamaica, Bolt was a handy fast bowler in his youth and he says cricket would be his profession of choice, outside athletics.

"I started playing cricket when I was young, then my cricket coach saw me running and decided that I should try track and field," he explained in June. "In the cricket season I help my brother out training, but otherwise I don't play now."

Hero worship: Don Quarrie, Jamaica's 200m gold medallist at Montreal '76, inspired Bolt's running technique. "If you sit and watch Don Quarrie, he is one of the smoothest bend runners ever. I have picked up a few things.

"Michael Johnson is also one of the greatest ever, and Herb McKenley is one of the greatest Jamaicans I know who has been in this sport. So I really idolise these guys."

Beenie Man
Bolt includes music star Beenie Man among his favourites
Most likely to: Hit the dancefloor. "I like to dance. I like music a lot," says Bolt, whose MP3 player hosts Jamaican dancehall numbers by the likes of Elephant Man, Black Rhino and Beenie Man. "I normally go out a little more than I should so I stopped doing that now," he admits.

Least likely to: Be found in a fast food joint, although he lists a takeaway as his number one guilty pleasure. Sadly for Usain, his gastronomic routine is in keeping with that of most athletes, though with a Jamaican edge: dumplings, yams and cooked bananas are his usual breakfast.

Did you know? Bolt has conceded defeat to Powell - at least in the vehicle stakes.

"I just have two cars. Asafa's got tons of cars," he told NBC. "Asafa's got a Skyline, he's got a BMW, he's got a Hummer, he's got a GMC Yukon. He's got a lot of cars. He's really into cars.

"I don't want so many cars. My dream car is a BMW M3 so I'm looking forward to getting that."

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see also
Bolt plots Beijing sprint double
02 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Bolt cruises to stunning 200m win
26 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Bolt coy over Olympics chances
24 Jul 08 |  Athletics
In-form Bolt targets 200m success
16 Jul 08 |  Athletics

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