Usain Bolt is ready to defend his 100m crown.
Usain Bolt is ready to defend his 100m crown. JOHN G.MABANGLO

Lightning Bolt primed to strike

ATHLETICS: Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth, begins his quest for an unprecedented "triple triple" in Rio tonight.

The Jamaican, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, is aiming to claim the three events for the third straight Olympiad.

Bolt, who also holds the world record in each of those events, including a time of 9.58 seconds for the 100m set in 2009, will run in the heats of the 100m tonight.

But don't expect Bolt to have things all his way.

American Justin Gatlin, who won gold in the 100m in Athens in 2004 before being banned for four years for doping offences from 2006, has run the fastest 100m time this year (9.8 seconds).

Then there's Bolt's compatriot Johan Blake, who is the second fastest man ever over 100m (9.69 seconds), but has not run competitively since 2014 due to injury.

But if there's any pressure on Bolt, he's not feeling it.

"I don't really get nervous," Bolt told The Independent. "This is my job, I do it every day.

"The only pressure I have is the pressure I put on myself. I don't think about what anyone else expects of me.

"It's why I am not one of those athletes who gets all quiet and serious before a race. I prefer to not think about it and just interact with people as normal. I like to look around me and see what's going on, where the other guys are, what they're doing."

Bolt insists that he relishes the rivalry with Gatlin and co.

"I fell in love with running fast when I knew I was good at it and I could beat other people," he said.

"When I line up in any race, I know I'll have seven guys beside me and I have to respect them all, but try to beat them all. If I'm in good shape and I've done all the hard work in training I know I'll be good."

The men's 100m final is on Monday at 11.25am.