Jun 11, 2013, 10:46 AM EST
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.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:52 AM EST
Zero Americans won medals in Sochi. Two made the podium in one day in Inzell.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:51 AM EST
Canada’s gold-medal goalie may be headed for Columbus, Ga.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Watch the ceremony from Fisht Stadium in Sochi.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:58 AM EST
Security guard, ex-girlfriend testify on fifth day of murder trial.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:49 AM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 6:59 AM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 6:31 AM EST
Ukraine athletes set to compete in Russia amid Crimea situation.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:43 PM EST
1984 and 1988 Olympic champion joins Arizona Cardinals staff.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:28 PM EST
Teemu Selanne’s socks among more than 50 items on display.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:10 PM EST
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Mar 6, 2014, 5:31 PM EST
Tatyana McFadden eyes history in homecoming. Military vets share common sledge hockey bond. Model/Amazing Race contestant helps bring snowboading to Paralympics. Husband and wife team go for skiing gold. Former Austrian World Cup Alpiner learns to ski again.
Mar 6, 2014, 1:21 PM EST
New U.S. sprint star, world records watch, Jamaican back from failed drug test.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:33 AM EST
Austrian Olympic champion takes victory in Sweden.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:28 AM EST
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Mar 6, 2014, 9:46 AM EST
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Mar 5, 2014, 4:33 PM EST
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Mar 5, 2014, 2:24 PM EST
Team USA athletes voted for Marine Corps veteran to carry flag on Friday night.
Mar 5, 2014, 2:11 PM EST
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Mar 5, 2014, 1:55 PM EST
Two countries in the news paired together in pool draw for Inglewood, Calif., event.
Mar 5, 2014, 1:27 PM EST
Red Bull calls it the first of its kind, largest halfpipe ever built.
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