Bolt plays down Gatlin talk
Usain Bolt has laughed off Justin Gatlin's claims that he is ready to knock the triple Olympic champion off his perch.
Gatlin, who won the 100m title in Athens in 2004 but subsequently served a four-year drugs ban, claimed earlier this season that fans wanted to see someone other than Bolt dominate athletics.
"Everybody wants to see great competition," the American said after winning the first Diamond League meeting of the year in Doha in 9.87 seconds earlier this month.
"They've watched the Usain Bolt show for a couple of years, they want to see someone else in the mix and I'm happy to step up and be in the mix as well."
The chances of that happening may appear better after Bolt struggled to a time of 10.04secs in winning in Ostrava last Friday, but the Jamaican is in confident mood ahead of Thursday's Diamond League meeting in Rome.
"I don't want to sound rude, but I think Gatlin's had his chance," a smiling Bolt said. "He's been on top, but to say 'Get ready for the Gatlin show' is funny.
"There are a lot of other athletes. You can't count out Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake (the world 100m champion) is back, so I think he has a few guys to get past before he should be worried about me."
Bolt was equally confident that last week's run in Ostrava was just an off-day, adding: "We are humans and we have off races and it's just one of those things. It happens in basketball and baseball and it happens to athletes. I'm never worried because at the end of the day it's all about the championships.
"I've set high standards and people expect you to do certain things. For me, all I've got to do is to continue running fast. I know I'll have bad races but I've got to stay focused on my goal."
Bolt has often stated that goal is to be thought of as a legend in the sport, something he feels will be secured if he can retain his Olympic titles and run 9.4s for the 100m.
That would mean lowering his own world record from 9.58, but Bolt believes anything could be possible given that the track in the Olympic stadium was described as very fast following the recent test event.
"I heard about that," Bolt added. "It's always a good thing to know that the track is going to be a fast one. For me I'm definitely looking forward to competing on that track.
"People are looking for me to run 9.4. For the championships I always turn up and I always run fast. I'm looking forward to doing my best there. As long as I am fit and I'm ready, anything is possible."