World’s fastest man has rubber-stamped his status as the best track athlete of all time.
Usain Bolt will seek a final flourish to bring down the curtain on another season where he confirmed himself as the world’s greatest ever sprinter and one of global sport’s most marketable superstars.
The 27-year-old Jamaican went to last month’s world championships in Moscow with nagging question marks over his form, as there had been at the London Olympics and the 2011 Daegu worlds.
Bolt promptly dispelled any concerns by claiming treble gold, winning the individual 100 and 200m crowns and then anchoring home the Jamaican 4x100m relay team.
It means that apart from his false-start blip in the Daegu 100m, Bolt has won every global sprint title on offer since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
While hinting in Brussels that the Rio Games might be his last, Bolt said he had opted for the 100m over his favoured 200m because of fatigue from his Moscow outings.
“Initially, I was going to compete in the 200m, but I felt tired after the world championships,” the 27-year-old said. “You always have to be careful not to push it too much, because there is always a risk of getting injured.
“After all, the season has been long, but I’m feeling much better than I did in Zurich (last week when he won over the same distance in 9.90).
“I’ve always run fast here. The fans give me energy and there are a lot of people coming from all over Europe to see me race here.
“The track is fast and this is a place where I always want to come back, but it will be a hard race because everybody is in it.”
Indeed, there is a cracking field for the blue riband event, featuring the world silver and bronze medallists, American Justin Gatlin and Jamaican Nesta Carter, as well as Bolt’s training partner Kemar Bailey-Cole, American Mike Rodgers and Briton James Dasaolu, who respectively placed fourth, sixth and eighth in the Moscow final.
They will be joined by St Kitts and Nevis veteran Kim Collins, Trinidad’s Keston Bledman and Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut.
So Bolt will have to have his wits about him in his last outing of the season before some time off and sitting down with coach Glen Mills in October to see what his goals will be for the 2014 season, when there are no global championships.
There are, however, the Commonwealth Games and perhaps a tilt at bettering his own 200m world record, fitness and form notwithstanding.
The 200m also has a sterling field, featuring Jamaican duo Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade up against Dutchman Churandy Martina, up-and-coming British sprinter Adam Gemili and American LaShawn Merritt, who is stepping down from the one-lap race.
Brussels will act as the second final for the 2013 IAAF Diamond League series, where another 16 Diamond Race winners will be crowned, the first batch having been confirmed in the Zurich meet last week.
There are straight head-to-head duels for supremacy in four events.
Ethiopian duo Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew face off in the men’s 5,000m, while the women’s high jump will see an all-Russian battle between recently-crowned world champion Svetlana Shkolina, who is unbeaten this year, and her predecessor Anna Chicherova.
The men’s 400m hurdles pits Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson against Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley in the dash for cash, with Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie up against Greece’s Konstantinos Filippidis in the pole vault.