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Usain Bolt says the 400 is out -- unless he needs it to become a legend

April 23, 2010 |  2:51 pm

Everyone would like to see what short-sprint star Usain Bolt could do at the 400 meters after he has put the 100 and 200 world records on a galaxy far, far away.

In a teleconference Friday morning, Bolt said he would move up to the 400 seriously "if it takes that to become a legend in the sport.  Otherwise, I wouldn't want to do it.''

Since the Jamaican already is a legend by any reasonable standard, I guess the quarter-mile is out of the question, except as an early-season tune-up, like the one he ran two months ago in Jamaica (45.87 seconds).

Bolt Not even the news that his sprint rival, Tyson Gay of the U.S., had broken the 45-second barrier (44.89) last weekend in Gainesville, Fla., is likely to make Bolt change his mind.

"It caught me by surprise,'' Bolt said.  "Congratulations to him.''

The two are likely to meet in the 100 at the June 12 event in New York that is part of the international track federation's new Diamond League circuit.  That is the meet where Bolt, then a relative novice at the 100, stunned the world in 2008 with his first of three world records (9.72) at the distance.  He lowered it to 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics and 9.58 at the 2009 world championships.

Bolt is running a relay leg at the Penn Relays Saturday.

"This year, with no championships, I'm not focused on times," Bolt said.  "I'm trying to take this season as easy as possible and get through it injury-free and stay unbeaten.  If I need to run fast to win, I will do that; if not, I would just like to take it as easy as possible."

Bolt is more interested in defending his world and Olympic 100 and 200 titles than in trying to conquer new events -- even if the road to a 400-meter world title might be a little easier with reigning world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt facing a possible two-year suspension after testing positive three times for a steroid. Merritt said he did not know the steroid was an ingredient in the male enhancement product he admitted to having used.

(An international track federation spokesperson on the conference call said Bolt would make no comment on the Merritt situation, which became public Thursday.)

"A lot of people have won just one title,'' Bolt said. "Doing another event may be important, but if you continue dominating, you can become one of the greatest ever.  If I can dominate for five, six years in the 100 meters, I can make myself a legend.''

Bolt, 23, admitted he was intrigued by trying the long jump "at the end of my career, just before I retire.''

Someone who had seen the pictures of Bolt swinging a golf club at a tournament in Jamaica last weekend asked if he were interested in taking on Tiger Woods.

"That was just promotional stuff," Bolt said.  "I'm not playing any golf."

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Looking as if he were trying to drive the ball from Jamaica to Cuba, Usain Bolt tees it up during a promotional appearance at the Mojo 6 Jamaica Invitational LPGA event last weekend in Kingston.  Credit: Kevin Cox /  Getty Images