Athletics: Bolt revved up for Rome, honours Mennea

World's fastest man set to grace Golden Gala for third time

Athletics: Bolt revved up for Rome, honours Mennea

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, June 4 - The world's fastest man Usain Bolt said Tuesday he was revved up for Thursday's Golden Gala, which will be dedicated to Italian sprinter Pietro Mennea. Mennea, who won the 200 metres - Bolt's favourite race - at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and held the world record for the event for 17 years, lost a long battle with cancer in March at the age of 60. "I am proud to compete in this meeting," Bolt told a press conference ahead of Thursday's meeting, which is part of the IAAF Diamond League. "Great athletes like Mennea made their country proud. "I hope that my fellow Jamaicans will honour me when I retire from sport in the same way Italy is honouring Mennea". Mennea recorded his startling best of 19.72 seconds in the World Student Games in Mexico City in 1979. It would only be beaten in 1996 by American great Michael Johnson, who took it down to 19.66 in the United States trials and then to 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics. Bolt, 26, has six Olympic sprint gold medals after winning the 100m and the 200m in Beijing in 2008 and in London last year and helping Jamaica win the 4x100m relay at both games. The world record holder for the 100m and 200m is taking part in the Golden Gala for the third time. On Thursday he will take on a 100m field featuring America's Olympic bronze medallist Justin Gatlin, former US champion Mike Rodgers, 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago and 2005 world championship silver medallist Michael Frater of Jamaica. He is confident he can regain top form after his start to the season was hit by a hamstring injury. "My hamstring is much better," he said. "I feel great. I've been doing lot of work on my speed endurance over the last few weeks. "Everything's coming together. I'm happy where I'm at. I'm looking forward to going out there and doing my best". Both of Bolt's previous visits to the Golden Gala were victorious. In 2011 he won the 100m with a time of 9.91 seconds and last year he wowed the crowd by coming home in 9.76. Bolt's 100m world record is 9.58, which he set when he won gold at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, where he also set a new best of 19.19 in the 200m.

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