Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, left, poses after he received his “Athlete of the Year Award,” Saturday, Nov. 12, in Monaco, awarded by the International Athletic Foundation, during the 2011 World Athletics Gala Awards.
AP Photo/Claude Paris
Claude Paris

MONACO (AP) — Usain Bolt wants to go for four gold medals at next summer’s London Olympics, adding the 4×400 meters relay to his usual schedule of three sprint events.

The defending Olympic champion in the 100, 200, and 4×100 from the 2008 Beijing Games said Saturday that if he is fit and Jamaica can challenge for gold, he wants a place on the long relay team, too.

“If I can help to get them a gold medal, I will want to go on that team,” Bolt said.

The last male athlete to win four gold medals in track and field at the Olympics was Carl Lewis at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Finland’s Paavo Nurmi won five at Paris 1924.

Despite false-starting in the 100 at the world championships in August in Daegu, South Korea, Bolt still dominated the competition. He anchored the Jamaican team to a 4×100 relay world record and successfully defended his title in the 200.

After health problems affected his season through part of the year, Bolt is upbeat for the Olympic season.

He said he’s started his Olympic preparations, fully fit after ending the season with a slight Achilles tendon tweak. Last year, back problems saw him lose part the season and forced him to lower expectations.

“Injury-wise, I am great,” he said. “I have no problem, and I started high intensity training.”

He has always been a credible 400 runner and said Saturday he wanted to contribute to the Jamaican team seeking to end a 60-year drought in the event. The Jamaicans have recently improved, but their last title came in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

The Americans traditionally have a hold on that relay, and Bolt can only add to the intense rivalry between the two teams.

Even though his personal best stands at 45.28 seconds, his manager Ricky Simms said he had run a 43.58 split with a running start in a relay at a minor Jamaica meet last year. The individual world record stands at 43.18.

When asked if he wanted to run in the 4×400, Bolt said: “I’ve expressed that to my coach. If I am fit and I think I can do it.”

His coach Glen Mills said he would reach his peak at 26.

“So definitely, (I’m) looking for this season. Twenty-five, I am getting there,” he said.

He also won three gold medals at the Berlin world championships two years ago and thinks he can top that at the London Olympics.

“I definitely would want to try because if I do as well as in Berlin, the 4×4 would top it off and even make it a little bit much better,” Bolt told reporters ahead of the decision on the IAAF athlete of the year. “I will probably be in good shape and I know the guys are really stepping up the 400 level in Jamaica.”

The Olympic schedule would allow him to go for four golds, because he only would have to run the finals in the relays races. After the 100 on Aug. 5, he would not have another final until the last three days of the track schedule from Aug 9-11.

He will first have to take beat training partner Yohan Blake.

Instead of the false-starting Bolt, Blake won the 100, and then ran the second fastest 200 in Brussels. Together, Bolt and Blake combined to set the world record and get the world title in the 4×100 in Daegu.

“The 200 is my favorite event. I won’t let Yohan beat me,” Bolt said. “I’ve said that to him, the 100 — maybe,” he said, jokingly.

He blamed his false start on season-long medical worries that limited his reaction-time training.

“I was trying hard throughout the season to get my start back,” he said. “This season, I am going to be in great shape, so it won’t be a matter of getting my start.”

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