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Usain Bolt: I live for the fans ... and I want to see Scotland

Superstar athlete Usain Bolt insisted it was "very important" to him to compete in the Commonwealth Games after touching down in Glasgow today.

Picture: Stewart Attwood
Picture: Stewart Attwood

Superstar athlete Usain Bolt insisted it was "very important" to him to compete in the Commonwealth Games after touching down in Glasgow today.

The fastest man of all time is the leading name at the Games and will run in the 4x100 metres relay on the final day of the athletics at Hampden Park.

The Jamaican landed at Glasgow Airport this afternoon on a flight from London wearing sunglasses and a black baseball cap, giving the thumbs up to a bagpiper who played for his arrival in the domestic area.

A large crowd gathered to cheer and take pictures of the athlete who only momentarily appeared on an escalator before collecting his baggage and leaving by a side exit.

He has eight world titles under his belt and six Olympic gold medals, having won the 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m in Beijing and then again in London two years ago.

The arrival of the star is regarded as hugely important for the athletics in Glasgow, given that Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be absent.

Speaking at a media conference held shortly after his arrival, Bolt said: "I don't think anyone has dropped on purpose.

"It happens in the Olympics, it happens in the World Championships. It's one of those things.''

Bolt also buried his head in his hands while laughing when asked if he had any plans to pull out himself.

''That's a very weird question,'' he said.

''I am here to run. Why else would I travel all this way to Glasgow? I will be running, definitely.''

An injury earlier in the season means he is restricting himself to just the relay rather than the individual sprints, causing some to question why he has taken on such a journey for just the one event.

But he told the conference at the SECC of his ambition to be a Commonwealth athlete and that he will be running in the heats of the relay as well in order to get his fitness right.

''For me it was very important (to be here),'' he said.

''I expressed it to my coach and I am happy to be here. I have always wanted to compete in the Games. The first one in Australia (in 2006) I strained my hamstring and in 2010 in India it was in October, which is a bad time for me.

''I got injured earlier in this season and I didn't want to take anyone's spot so I decided 'why not just come in the 4x100m?'''

He added: "As long as there are athletes and eight lanes there is always competition because I think everybody works hard and I respect everybody and take everybody seriously."

On arriving at the conference, where journalists and photographers from across the world were gathered, the sprint champion pulled out his trademark lightning bolt pose with a group of school children and the Games' official mascot Clyde.

He faced a series of questions ranging from whether he had ever worn a kilt to a request for a selfie with a news crew.

Speaking about what he expected from the host city, he said: "A lot of rain maybe and seeing a lot of kilts around the place. 

"For me, I didn't come here with any expectations, I'm just going out and trying to see the country. I guess everybody will try to show me their culture so I know I will see a lot so I am not worried - I will be here for a week and I won't be doing much so I can probably get to move around a lot."

Bolt said watching the Jamaican netball team compete was on his to-do list while in Glasgow and he also confirmed he would be staying in the athletes' village.

"It's always fun to be among the athletes and it makes you relax more just enjoying the talk and to laugh and to bond with everyone," he said.

"I try not to walk around the village too much because I tend to take a lot of pictures. I will definitely move around to see how the village is set up and stuff like that but I will stay in my room most of the time."

Earlier Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said his presence at the Games was ''fantastic''.

He said: ''We've got quality athletes that want to come here and want to be part of this and it's great that he's going to be here.''

Bolt has yet to race this year after taking time to recover from a foot injury but he said the problem had ''completely gone'' and he was in ''pretty good shape''.

His desire to get races under his belt means he will take to the Hampden Park track next Friday for the relay heats and Saturday for the final - provided, of course, his Jamaican team get the baton round.

''I will be running in the heats - I think I need the runs, really, because this is my first run of the season, so I really need to get it going,'' the Olympic champion said. '

'The injury is completely gone. Fitness-wise I have done a lot of training over this past month - I have been really pushing myself.

I think I am in pretty good shape, but I'm not in running shape - that's why I am running the heats, just to get a few runs in.

''I won't be doing a lot of races this season - just four. So, for me, I am just taking my time, trying to get myself in running shape, but not push myself too much and then get injured again."

The news will be prove a hit with sports fans with a ticket to the athletics as Bolt said he was determined to provide a good show.

"I live for the fans, when I go on the track I want the fans to enjoy my performance always, so for me I always try to bring the energy because I want to feed off their energy also. I'm definitely going out there for a good performance and trying to put on a show for the fans," he said.

Bolt was also asked his thoughts on the Scottish independence referendum, which he offered a brief reply on, saying: "I didn't even know that."

He was asked whether he had some advice for any Scottish athletes who might feel the pressure of performing in front of a home crowd.

"You just have to have confidence in yourself, as long as you go out there and do your best then I don't think it should be a problem.

"I don't think you should pressure yourself or the fans should pressure you because that's your best. If you're fifth, sixth or you're last, as long as you know you went out there and gave it 100% then you should be OK with that."

There are 29 gold medals up for the taking today, with medal events in track cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, judo, lawn bowls, shooting, swimming, triathlon, and weightlifting.

Rugby Sevens competitions are also under way at Ibrox, where Scotland pushed New Zealand all the way in a 17-14 loss, Wales beat Malaysia 52-0 and England beat Sri Lanka 57-0.

Hosts Scotland will play top seeds Malaysia and England will take on surprise quarter-finalists Sri Lanka in the last eight of the Commonwealth Games team event.

Saturday's action has already seen Wales' Francesca Jones enjoy a golden send off from gymnastics as she ended her career with the top prize in the women's individual ribbon.

There was gold too for England whose dream team made it a clean sweep of gold medals in the triathlon with a dominant victory in the mixed relay.

Vicky Holland, Jonny Brownlee, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee were all medallists in the individual events on Thursday, with the latter two winning gold.

Veteran shooter Michael Gault made Commonwealth Games history on Saturday when he won bronze for England in the 10-metre air pistol event.

The 60-year-old grandfather from Norfolk, competing in his sixth Games, equalled the record for Commonwealth medals in any sport by bagging an astonishing 18th podium place.

Scottish pair Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean will have the chance for a second gold in as many days at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome after reaching the final of the sprint B tandem.

At the judo Scotland flag bearer Euan Burton and wife Gemma Gibbons, representing England, will both fight for gold in the final judo session on Saturday night.

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