During the world championships in Moscow last month, sprint king Usain Bolt was asked how long he intended to keep running. He kept reporters guessing and some thought he wouldn’t last until the next Olympics.
But on Wednesday Bolt said that he would call it quits after racing at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.
“So far it’s after the Olympics in Rio,” the 27-year-old told reporters in Brussels, where he is competing Friday. “If I’m in great shape and I go there and do what I have to do, I think it would be a good time to retire on top and having dominated for so long.”
The Jamaican admitted he struggled with his motivation this year and it is little wonder given he has regularly coasted to 100- and 200-meter victories at the Olympics and world championships.
“I couldn’t find that goal, that drive to get going again,” Bolt said. “I sat down and thought to myself — what do I really want? And what can I do in this sport some more?”
Including relays, Bolt owns a combined 14 gold medals in the sport’s two biggest events and is the world record-holder in both the 100 and 200 meters.
In order to ensure his place in the pantheon of sporting legends, Bolt said he needs to go out on a high in Rio — and hopes his powerful body cooperates.
“I’ve made up my mind that if I want to be among the greats of Ali, Pele and all these guys I have to continue dominating until I retire,” he added.
“I’m really focusing on getting every season correct, trying not to get injured and just continue dominating so at the end of my career people will put me among the greats.”
His accomplishments to date already make him one of the best athletes of all time. Not the shy type, Bolt called himself a “legend” after achieving another individual sprint double at the 2012 London Olympics. No one came close to challenging him in Russia.
His only misstep since rising to the top took place at the 2011 world championships in South Korea when he false started and was disqualified from the 100-meter final.
And in a sport hit hard recently by positive drug tests to sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell — the latter two are fellow Jamaicans — Bolt has never tested positive, always maintaining that he is clean.
With a personality larger than his 6-foot-5-inch frame, Bolt is especially popular among fans and sponsors alike. Forbes this year named him the 40th highest-paid athlete in the world with earnings of $24.2 million.
He features in commercials for Virgin and is also backed by Puma, Samsung and Nissan, among others.