Double-Olympic champion Usain Bolt has dismissed suggestions he is “afraid” of facing in-form American Justin Gatlin.
The 33-year-old has run 2015’s fastest 100m and 200m – 9.75 and 19.68 seconds – but is yet to race Bolt this season.
The pair are set to meet in the World Championships in Beijing in August, along with other leading sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.
“Afraid? When people say that, I laugh,” said Jamaican Bolt, 28, who holds the world record in both events.
“I’ve been in the sport for years and I’ve never dodged anybody. When it matters, I’ve always showed up and shown that I’m the best,” he added.
- Bolt holds the world 100m record at 9.58 seconds and the 200m record at 19.19 – both set in 2009
- He won 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay gold at 2008 and 2012 Olympics
- Bolt won the same treble at the 2009 and 2013 World Championships
- In 2011 he won the World Championship 200m but was disqualified in the 100m for a false start
- Gatlin won the 2004 Olympic 100m in Athens in a time of 9.85 seconds
- The American served a four-year ban for doping offences from 2006-2010
“Gatlin has been doing a lot of talking, saying a lot of things. He’s proved he’s running fast times and he’s ready. So it should be exciting going into the World Championships.
“I look forward to competing when people talk… because if you don’t back it up you look really stupid.”
Bolt is in New York for the Diamond League Grand Prix meeting at Randall’s Island on Saturday, but is competing in the 200m which is not part of the Diamond League standings.
It is the first time he has raced in the city since he broke the world 100m record for the first time in 2008.
His 2014 campaign was disrupted by foot and hamstring injuries and he only ran in three races – including a leg for Jamaica’s victorious 4x100m relay team at the Commonwealth Games.
In April he won the 100m in Rio but his Jamaica 4x100m team were beaten by USA at the World Relay Championships in Nassau last month.
In his first race of the year in Europe last month he won the Golden Spike 200m comfortably in Ostrava but failed to break 20 seconds, clocking 20.13.
“I’m not in the best of shape and I’m not going to put myself out there if I know I’m just coming back,” said Bolt, who announced in February that he would retire after the 2017 World Championships.
“When I get to Beijing I’ll be ready to go and that’s when the showdown will be.”