Skip to content

What will it take to motivate Usain Bolt?

Jun 11, 2013, 10:46 AM EDT

778778459

The work ethic of the all-time sports greats has been well-documented through the years: Michael Jordan trained tirelessly every summer to prove his doubters wrong, even after the world began to worship him. Tiger Woods has constantly evolved his game as he’s aged. And Tom Brady famously watches more film than anyone else can stand.

And yet, despite losing to 31-year-old bygone Olympics champ Justin Gatlin in Rome last week, Usain Bolt doesn’t seem any worse for wear. Three days later he was sitting cooly in a box at the French Open, waiting to hand out the champions trophy. It was an opportunity fame had afforded him due to work already done. So why race back to the track for training?

“I would say my determination is not as much as it used to be,” Bolt admitted to the BBC following last week’s loss. “You have to try to find things to motivate you and to push yourself harder. Starting the season was the roughest part for me – trying to drive myself. I am taking my time and working my way there. Every season it goes right back to ground zero.”

To be fair, the race in Rome – a full three years from Rio – was only notable because Bolt lost. And only by 0.01 seconds coming off a slow start to 2013 that was hampered by a mild hamstring strain. Otherwise, he’s won all six Olympic finals he’s competed in between Beijing and London, and all but one world championship race he’s entered, after being DQ’d for jumping the gun in Daegu back in 2011.

He also owns the world records in all three races, so he’s not worried about the 31-year-old bygone champ who will be 34 when Rio comes around. Or about Tyson Gay, who will be 33 in 2016 and has never medaled in an Olympics 100m. Or even young world champ Yohan Blake, who won the race Bolt was DQ’d from, and then beat Bolt twice last year at the Jamaican trials. Bolt took him in London.

Bolt has already dubbed himself a “living legend,” and such high praise, even from your own mouth, makes it difficult to strive for more. So what will it take for Bolt to put in the effort to break his own records? To run 9.4-seconds in the 100m, like he said he one day would? It will take more than a loss. It will take an embarrassment, and one that I’m not sure the current world field will be able to lay on him before his career is done roughly three years from now. And certainly not from a 31-year-old bygone champion.

And if that’s true, we might have already seen the best of Usain Bolt.

Latest Posts
  1. Wallace Spearmon fails drug test, banned 3 months

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

    Wallace Spearmon Getty Images

    Spearmon lost a 2008 Olympic medal due to disqualification and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 200m.

  2. Viktoria Komova out of World Gymnastics Championships, report says

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Viktoria Komova Getty Images

    Komova won Olympic all-around silver behind Gabby Douglas.

  3. South Korea hockey teams given spots in 2018 Olympics

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT

    South Korea hockey Getty Images

    There was concern Olympic host nation wouldn’t be able to qualify in hockey.

  4. Carolina Kostner skips hearing in ex-boyfriend’s doping case

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 AM EDT

    Carolina Kostner Getty Images

    Olympic medalist skater could be called in for later hearing.

  5. Jens Voigt bikes 31.7 miles in 1 hour, breaks record

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Jens Voigt Getty Images

    Three-time Olympian rides into retirement by entering history books.

  6. Rio Olympic Village more than 50 percent complete

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Rio Olympic Village

    Work expected to finish in the first half of 2016.

  7. Ato Boldon’s track and field season awards

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    NBC Olympics analyst hands out athlete of the year honors and more.

  8. Yelena Isinbayeva set to return to pole vault training, report says

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Yelena Isinbayeva Getty Images

    Russian Olympic champion gave birth to daughter in June.

  9. Analyzing the U.S. gymnastics women’s World Championships team

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Simone Biles, Kyla Ross Getty Images

    Can U.S. win second straight team title despite injuries, absences?

  10. Edmonton Oilers hire Olympic pairs champion as skating coach

    Sep 17, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    David Pelletier Getty Images

    Canadian from memorable 2002 Olympic pairs competition to coach NHL players.

  11. Kaitlyn Farrington, Olympic halfpipe champ, eyes slopestyle at Dew Tour

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT

    Kaitlyn Farrington Getty Images

    Olympic halfpipe champion is focused on two competitions this season.

  12. Curling sculpture unveiled at Olympic Museum (photos)

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

    Curling statue

    Curling is the first Winter Olympic sport to have a sculpture in the Olympic Museum park.

  13. Paula Radcliffe set for first race since pulling out of London Olympics

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT

    Paula Radcliffe Getty Images

    World record holder, now 40, could enter two more major marathons.

  14. Hicham El Guerrouj, King of the Mile, could still run fast at 40

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Hicham El Guerrouj Getty Images

    Two-time Olympic champion runs five or six times per week.

  15. Shaun White ‘more motivated’ to compete than before Sochi

    Sep 17, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Shaun White Getty Images

    Two-time Olympic halfpipe champion “more poised” for slopestyle success in 2018.

  16. Lolo Jones eliminated from ‘Dancing with the Stars’

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:41 AM EDT

    Lolo Jones Getty Images

    Jones posted she had “flashbacks of the three Olympics and that people constantly tease me about.”

  17. Rio Olympic ticket prices start at about $20 in Brazil

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Rio 2016

    More than 7.5 million tickets will be available for the Games.

  18. Kohei Uchimura’s mother competes in gymnastics meet

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Kohei Uchimura Getty Images

    Shuko Uchimura hadn’t competed in some 30 years, according to Japanese report.