GLASGOW, Scotland — Almost immediately after Usain Bolt landed in Scotland, the level of attention paid to him demonstrated just how important the sprint star’s participation is to the Commonwealth Games.
The Jamaican has never raced before at the Commonwealths, and his slow recovery from a foot injury had put this appearance in doubt.
Despite skipping the individual sprints, Bolt insists he will honor a commitment to enter the relay – both the heat and a probable final.
“I am here to run,” the six-time Olympic champion said Saturday. “I will be running definitely.”
Bolt seemed affronted to be asked if there would be a late withdrawal like distance runner Mo Farah, who has the same management representation.
“That’s a very weird question,” Bolt said, burying his head in his hands in disbelief. “Yes, I am here to run, I don’t see why else I would travel all this way to Glasgow.”
It was a rare probing inquiry at a news conference in Glasgow attended by many giddy reporters seemingly there to pay homage to the world’s fastest man.
“I have to be honest,” one Australian reporter said to Bolt from the floor of the conference room. “None of us are here for work, we are actually here as fans.”
The awkwardness was broken by a question on Bolt’s troublesome left foot.
“The injury has completely gone. Fitness-wise, I’ve done a lot of training over the past month,” he said. “I’ve been really pushing myself and I’m in pretty good shape, but I’m not yet in running shape, hence why I’m running the heats just to get a few runs in.
“I won’t be doing a lot of races this season, just four. I’m just taking my time trying to get myself into running shape, but not to push myself too much and then get injured again. I’m focused on just getting through the season.”
Bolt’s appearance on the Hampden Park track in the 4x100 relay heats at the games will be his first competitive action all year.
“As long as there’s athletes and there’s eight lanes there’s always competition,” he said. “For me, it’s something to add to my accolades over the years.”
A hamstring injury prevented Bolt appearing at the 2006 Melbourne Games and the logistically troubled Delhi Games were badly timed for him in October 2010.
“I told my coach I wanted to come and we said ... it depends on how the season was going,” Bolt recalled. “I got injured early in the season and at the end we decided we can’t make it to the trials, but let’s see if we can run the 4x100. I was allowed to get into the team and that was good.”
Before racing at Hampden Park, Bolt will try to stay out of the limelight but won’t be escaping the confines of the games.
“I always stay in the athletes villages. It’s always fun to be among the athletes, and it makes you relax more, and just enjoying to talk and to laugh and to bond with everyone,” he said. “I try not to walk around the village too much because I tend to take a lot of pictures ... I stay in my room most of the time.”