Usain Bolt defied logic when he stormed to three sprint world records at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but after an indifferent run of results over the last year, the Jamaican is more determined than ever to build on his legacy.
Gone is the aura of invincibility following his false start disqualification in the 100 metres world championships in South Korea last August and back-to-back losses to his protege and training partner Johan Blake at the recent Jamaican trials.
Bolt, however, remains undeterred and is confident he will be back to his best in London next month as he prepares to achieve what no other man has ever done before — successfully defend the 100m and 200m Olympic titles.
“A lot of legends, a lot of people, have come before me,” Bolt said in an interview published in British broadsheet the Guardian on Wednesday.
“But this is my time… This will be the moment, and this will be the year, when I set myself apart from other athletes in the world,” the 25-year-old added.
Bolt was also part of a world-record shattering 4x100m quartet in Beijing and when he repeated the treble at the world championships in Berlin a year later with two more records in the individual events, many believed he had become unbeatable.
It was a notion the 6ft-5in (1.95m) sprinter did not buy into and fuelled by the recent setbacks, Bolt has shunned thoughts of resting on the laurels of his achievements and continued to train with the same intensity he always possessed.
“What can I do?” he asked. “You can only do your work and let people believe what they want. I work my hardest because I know what it takes to be a champion. I know what I want and I’m focused on what I need to do to win.”
Never lacking in confidence, Bolt remains happy with his preparations and is using the Daegu disappointment and Kingston defeats as motivation in the final days before the Games, where he expects to be at his very peak of fitness.
“With each training session I’m getting better and better. I have no other duties now, no worries, it’s all about training, eating and sleeping,” he added.
“I have a lot more time and can put a lot more effort into training. I’m feeling better every day. I’m definitely in no doubt I can go to the Olympics and win.
“Things happen throughout the season that throw you off sometimes but you have to learn from your mistakes. I just need to put things in place to make sure it doesn’t happen at the Olympics.
“I just try and get over it and get my confidence up to a level where I’m comfortable at the Games.”
The 100m is always the showpiece of any Olympic track and field meet and Bolt realises that world champion Blake’s rise to prominence and the threat posed by a strong American contingent will make for a spectacular final.
“It’s not going to be him (Blake) alone. It’s going to be me, (fellow Jamaican) Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and all these guys,” Bolt said.
“It’s a packed race with top-class athletes so it will be a different level of competition for Yohan. It’s going to take a lot of focus.
“And it’s going to cause a lot of stress. It will really test him as an athlete — and as a person overall. We’ll see how good he is.”