Bolt planning to run in relay heats

Usain Bolt, centre, had a lively press conference upon his arrival in Glasgow

Usain Bolt, centre, had a lively press conference upon his arrival in Glasgow

First published in National Sport © by

Glasgow will be treated to a double dose of Usain Bolt after the world's fastest man confirmed he would run in the heats as well as the final of the 4x100metres relay at the Commonwealth Games.

The Jamaican landed in Scotland on Saturday afternoon to add some much-needed star quality to a Games which have been hit by the withdrawal of high-profile athletes like Mo Farah.

He has yet to race this year after taking time to recover from a foot injury, but told at a packed press conference the problem had "completely gone" and he was in "pretty good shape".

His desire to get races under his belt means he will take to the Hampden Park track next Friday for the relay heats and Saturday for the final - provided, of course, his Jamaican team get the baton round.

" I will be running in the heats - I think I need the runs, really, because this is my first run of the season, so I really need to get it going," the six-time Olympic champion said.

"The injury is completely gone. Fitness-wise I have done a lot of training over this past month - I have been really pushing myself. I think I am in pretty good shape, but I'm not in running shape - that's why I am running the heats, just to get a few runs in.

"I won't be doing a lot of races this season - just four. So, for me, I am just taking my time, trying to get myself in running shape, but not push myself too much and then get injured again.

"I am focused on getting through the season and getting some races in. (The) Rio (Olympics) are two years away. I have to go to the World Championships (in Beijing in August next year) first, so I'm taking my time and working my way to the World Championships. Then I'll worry about Rio."

Bolt's injury, which saw him miss a block of training earlier in the season, meant he did not compete at the Jamaican trials and his unwillingness to take the place of an athlete who had qualified for the team for Glasgow ruled him out of the individual 100m and 200m.

He has made the 4,500-mile trip just for the relay.

"For me it was very important (to be here)," said Bolt, who did not compete in the 2006 or 2010 Commonwealths. "I have always wanted to compete in the Commonwealth Games."

And he defended the status of the event, which has been hurt by the host of star athletes who will be missing.

His compatriot Yohan Blake ruled himself out for fitness reasons before picking up a hamstring injury while running in the Glasgow Grand Prix earlier this month, while Farah said he was still not ready to race after struggling with illness.

Add to that the absence of new mum Jessica Ennis-Hill, and her heir apparent in the heptathlon Katarina Johnson-Thompson with a foot injury, and the global stars on show at Hampden will be in short supply.

Arguably only Bolt and Kenya's 800m king David Rudisha justify that tag.

"I don't think anyone has dropped out on purpose," the world record holder over 100m and 200m said. "It's just all about injuries.

"It happens in the Olympics, in the World Championships sometimes, things will go wrong at the last moment. It's one of those things.

"But there are a lot of athletes here and I'm sure it will be a good Games. I'm looking forward to watching the 100m and the 200m to see the level it's at."

He added: "There is competition here. As long as there are athletes and eight lanes there's always competition.

"I think the athletes that are here at top tier. The Games will go on and they will be good, I'm sure of that."

Bolt was even asked for reassurance that he too did not plan to pull out, with the 27-year-old responding by burying his head in his hands and laughing.

"That's a very weird question," he said. "Yes, I am here to run, I don't see why else I would travel all this way to Glasgow. I will be running, definitely."

The Jamaican diplomatically side-stepped questions on Gaza and Scottish independence and answered the customary football ones - for the record he supported Argentina at the World Cup and still harbours fanciful ambitions to play for Manchester United when he retires from the track.

He even agreed to the requests from journalists for selfies. After all, he knows he is the one all of Glasgow wants to see.

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