OSLO (AP) — Usain Bolt laughed off suggestions he may be 'past it' on Tuesday and said he is looking forward to defending his world titles at 100 and 200 meters in Moscow in August.
Bolt, who will run the 200 meters at the Bislett Games on Thursday, said he has his "eye on the prize" of the worlds and is not overly concerned after coming off a rare defeat in the 100 meters last Thursday.
Bolt lost by one-hundredth of a second to American sprinter Justin Gatlin in Rome, the Jamaican's first significant international loss since the false-start disqualification at the worlds in South Korea in 2011.
"I'll just point something out. In '08, I lost one race and I won the Olympics that year," Bolt told a news conference. "(The loss to Gatlin) doesn't say much. All I'm concerned about really, is the championship. Running the runs, getting into shape, figuring out what I need to do to get to the championship."
Bolt is the world record holder over 100 and 200 and any slight dip in form from the athlete widely considered to be the fastest ever is going to attract attention. His dominance is also being questioned as rivals Gatlin, Tyson Gay of the U.S. and Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake begin to look like they could threaten him this season.
Bolt respects them all. "Never try and single out one person to see who's the strongest, because in track and field people get injured all the time," Bolt said. "If I focus on one person and they get injured, then what? Then you have to change your focus and you may not be ready for that other person. So for me, I just work hard and try to be at my best when those seven persons are lined up against me."
Bolt will face local favorite Jaysuma Saidy Ndure on Thursday. The 28-year-old set a season's best of 10.13 in the 100 in Rome last week and is relishing the prospect of challenging Bolt again. "I always look forward to running against him. I know he's going to push me again into another season's best," Ndure said.
"He's fast, so I've gotta beat him. I'll try. We'll see," he laughed. Bolt isn't underestimating the Gambia-born Ndure. "For me anything is possible. You never know what's going to happen on the day. Hopefully he doesn't beat me," said Bolt, who hopes to be the first to break the 20 second mark this season.
"It's definitely in my mind. I want to change that and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm pretty focused." However, the doubts remained, and Bolt was asked again about his lackluster start to the season. "I'm not really worried," he answered with a resigned laugh. "I'm always confident in whatever I am doing. As long as my coach is not worried, I'm not worried, and my coach is not worried, so I'm definitely confident that I'll be up to standard, that I'll be able to perform to defend my titles."
The 26-year-old said he "never" worried and that his fans shouldn't worry either. "I keep explaining to everyone that for me it's never about one-off events. They keep worrying but for me, I show up at the championship. That's my aim because it's all about medals. At the end of the day, if all you can say is, I won 10 races over the years but I have no medals to show for them, what's the point?" he asked.