Bolt urges next generation of Jamaican sprinters to chase greatness

Usain Bolt believes Jamaican sprinting is not on the decline despite a lack of medals. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF

Usain Bolt has warned the next generation of Jamaican sprinters they have to display the same insatiable desire for greatness he did if they are to follow in his footsteps.

Bolt bade a final farewell to the sport he has ruled for the past nine years with an emotional lap of honour at the end of the World Championships in London on Sunday.

Warmth poured down from the packed stands, but he admitted he had endured a "rough" send-off on the track, having to settle for bronze in the 100 metres and then pulling up injured in his very last race, the 4x100m relay.

Jamaica finished the 10 days of competition with just one gold medal, courtesy of Omar McLeod in the 110m hurdles.

In the men's and women's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays they won just two bronze medals in total, the women's sprint quartet claiming the other place on the podium. There was no Jamaican representation at all in the final of either the men's or women's 200m.

At the Rio Olympics last year those six sprint events produced five golds and one silver.

Bolt denied it was a sign Jamaican sprinting was on the wane, but accepted his were big shoes to fill.

"It's just one of those things, sometimes it just doesn't go your way," he said. "There is lots of talent in Jamaica, I've seen it myself, I've seen the youngsters.

"But I've learned that everybody is not like me -- you have to want it, you have to be hungry, you have to want to be the greatest and I think that will be the key thing for the Jamaican athletes. Do they want to be the best, do they want to be the greatest?

"If they want to be great they can. If they work hard and put the effort in, athletics for Jamaica will be safe."

That will to win is personified in the race singled out by Bolt as the most impressive of his career -- not one of his Olympic gold medals from Beijing, London or Rio, nor his world record runs of 9.58 seconds for the 100m and 19.19secs for the 200m, but his 100m victory over Justin Gatlin, by just one-hundredth of a second, at the 2015 World Championships.

"I had to really fight to win, I think it showed a lot of character," he added.

The 19-time global champion believes the legacy he will leave the sport is the knowledge that "anything is possible", a sentiment he acknowledged he proved with his struggles in London.

"It's ironic that my motto says anything is possible and no one would ever have felt like I would be beaten in a championships," Bolt said.

"I'm on the wrong end of this situation, but I personally feel this is a good message for kids -- work hard, be strong and push on."

Walking away he may be, but Bolt is eager to remain in the sport. Certainly, losing him completely is not something it can contemplate.

"My agent is talking to Mr Coe [the president of athletics' world governing body the IAAF] to figure out in what way I can help the sport and I am looking forward to this," he said.

For the time being, though, Bolt's focus is on enjoying his freedom, unconstrained at last by the rigours of training and competition.

"My whole life has been pretty much track and field," he said. "I've been doing this pretty much since I was 10, so all I know is track. For me to be able to relax and have fun and just live a little bit is exciting."