Usain Bolt pushing himself back into form


MONACO -- Usain Bolt claims he'll be happy to successfully defend both sprint titles and stay injury-free at the world championships, ruling out the prospect of lowering his 100-meter world record.

The Jamaican will take on European champion Christophe Lemaitre of France and teammates Nesta Carter and Michael Frater at the Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday. It's his last 100 before the worlds open Aug. 27 in Daegu, South Korea.

After being hampered by injuries last season, Bolt's season-best time of 9.91 seconds is well short of his world mark.

"I'm not where I want to be. It is getting better but it's a long way from 9.58, for sure," Bolt said at a news conference Thursday. "I don't think I'll be in that form this season. But I definitely need to get to 9.6, 9.7. I'm working hard, I'm trying to stay focused on the job I have and it's coming together."

Bolt ended his season last August because of back and Achilles' injuries after losing to Tyson Gay in Stockholm. He returned to that track in May to run his fastest 100 of the year. But he's wary of pushing his body too hard, citing his American rival's absence from the worlds following a hip operation.

"People think you just go and run fast," said Bolt, whose last race before the worlds will be in the 200 at Stockholm. "But when you get injured it's very hard, as you can see with Tyson Gay, to come back from injuries.

"You have to be careful in the way you push you body. You've got to work to take your time. Sometimes when you want to rush things it's going to be worse. But I have a great coach and he knows what to do."

The three-time Olympic champion still has the Monaco meet record of 9.82 in his sights, set three years ago by Asafa Powell. He wants to extend his dominance over Lemaitre after beating him in the 100 in Rome and in the 200 in France this month.

"I've seen it's very fast," Bolt said of the Louis II stadium track. "But for me, it's all about execution. If I can get execution, then it should be a good time. I'm just looking forward to executing well."

Lemaitre said his form is improving and fatigue won't be a factor.

"Tomorrow, I will aim for the best possible placing. When you look at the field, it's obvious that a good placing will bring a good time," he said.

The meet also will mark Australian pole vaulter Steven Hooker's return. The Olympic and world champion, who hasn't competed since the Commonwealth Games in October because of a knee injury, is up against American leader Brad Walker and European champion Renaud Lavillenie of France.

"But I've been training the whole time," Hooker said. "I would have liked to jump a bit more, but let's see how it goes. I spent my time, surprisingly enough, training. It took a long time to get it right. I spent a lot of time in the gym and I think I'm stronger now."

In the men's 800, Kenyan world record holder David Rudisha will have pacemaker Sammy Tangui in the field as he tries to improve on the season-best time of 1:43.46 he set last month in Nancy, France.

"The key is good weather and Sammy is here, so he'll set a good pace," Rudisha said. "I'm expecting a new world-leading time."