With his ‘Lightning Bolt’ poses, play acting for theÂ cameras and care free attitude, he delighted fans at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, but Usain Bolt is very serious when it comes to sprinting.
Bolt dominated the World Athletics Championships just as he did at the Beijing Olympics, shattering the world records for the 100m and 200m, while Jamaica won the 4x100m relay to complete his hat trick of gold medals.
Bolt, who regularly pleased the Berlin crowds with his trademark pose, sliced 0.11sec off both his 100m and 200m world record times to be crowned the undisputed sprint king.
But behind the smiles and jokes, Bolt says he came to Berlin to prove Beijing was no fluke and a rare false start in the semi finals of the 100m showed there were a few nerves.
“Last year I was a joker, but I showed people that this was no joke here,” he said.
“I did almost everything the same as I did in Beijing. Winning three gold medals in Berlin is wonderful, I am proud of myself.”
Had security guards not been present, Bolt would have been mobbed by a noisy crowd of adoring fans on his way to the 4x100m press conference.
Bolt’s humour translated well to the Germans and he delighted fans when he had “Ich bin ein Berlino” written on his warm up T-shirt in honour of the championships’ cuddly mascot.
The over-sized bear, who patrolled the sidelines, returned the compliment with a T-Shirt reading: “Ich bin ein Bolt”, but there is room for only one global superstar in athletics.
“For me it is not too hard to do what I did, because I am just trying to be myself and have fun,” Bolt replied when asked if he thinks he is the saviour of a sport which for years has been tarnished by numerous doping revelations.
“I just wanted to come here and show people my personality and they love it,” he added. But having admitted his aim is to eventually be known as a track and field legend, Bolt says only hard earned success will earn him the accolade.
“I am not there yet: year after year, I have to become a champion again and again.” But the smiles and clowning around mask a serious side to Bolt who says he learned the lessons to take his 200m silver from Osaka two years ago and convert it into world championship gold in Berlin.
“When I started out in track and field, I was injured a lot,” he said.”In Osaka I came second and realised my talent, so I sat down with my coach Glen Mills and he explained what I was doing wrong.
“I wasn’t running well off the curve as I wasn’t strong enough, I had problems. “I worked hard on my abdomen and back muscles and did a lot of speed endurance. I have worked on my reactions and my start times are brilliant this year, so I am just getting things right, year after year.
“I am finding out what is wrong and working on it.”His reaction time in the 200m final bears out his hard workÂ he needed just 0.133 of a second to start running compared to 0.179 of his nearest rival.
But while he says there is nothing else he wants to work on, the training will not stop as he looks to future success. “I just want to finish the season injury free, go home and get the vacation, go on the beach and do all the fun things I can’t do now.”
While Bolt admitted it would be “very nice” if Queen Elizabeth ever decided to honour him with a knighthood, the city of Berlin has already honoured him with a giant piece of the Berlin Wall.
The Jamaican, who turned 23 last Friday, was on Sunday presented with an original segment of the Wall weighing nearly three tonsÂ by the host city.
The 3.5m high section will be delivered to his training camp in Jamaica and is painted with a life size portrait of him on the Olympic stadium’s blue track and shows his world record of 9.58secs for the 100m and 19.19 for the 200m.
“I will never forget Berlin,” Bolt said at the ceremony. “Ich bin ein Berlino.â€