"I’m all about winning championships so it’s not just about times. I try to run fast always because I know that fans want fast times, but if I can run 20 flat to win the 200m in the championships, I’m ok with it. It’s all about winning the gold medals,” said Usain Bolt after winning his third 200m World Championship on Saturday.

Bolt ran 19.66 and eased down heavily before the finishing line. 19.66 is a very quick time...unless you are Usain Bolt, to whom it is a canter. This canter has became habitual now. As you may have read in my post last week, Bolt has not set an individual world record for four years now. There are not many people who are expected to break world records but Bolt is one of them. At age 23 and running new limits with apparent ease, it looked like there was plenty more in the tank.

Injury and discomfort could be factors in Bolt's lack of progress timewise. Bolt has suffered with many knocks and niggles over the last four years so it is conceivable he is now running more conservatively to keep himself fit enough to compete.

I suspect from many interviews of his that I have seen across the years that there is another major factor in play.

Watch this video before you read on.

When somebody has praise directly linked with their identity - "You're the fastest man alive" - rather than towards their performance - "That was an incredible run you just did" - they can start to shy away from opportunities to progress. Bolt now regularly refers to himself as a "living legend". He will not jeopardise his legendary status by stretching his abilities or maybe testing himself in another event (long jump, 400m and football have all been talked about. In the same interview as the quote above is from, he even cites his main aim for next season as "to try very hard not to get injured". Victory has defeated him. 

It is plain to see that he is not as jovial as he once was. He was having more fun before he became the "living legend" - when he was running to improve rather than being "driven by greatness".

I highly recommend Carol Dweck's book "Mindset" on the research that the video above is taken from.

Are there any areas of your performance that you have became more interested in protecting than expanding? Have you been defeated by your victories?

You can always turn things around if you prepare to take some risks again.


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Victory, if you aren't careful, can defeat you

Victory, if you aren't careful, can defeat you