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Athletics: Bolt breezes in and looks forward to Scottish adventure

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Usain Bolt was in jovial mood at the SECC in Glasgow  Photograph: Stewart Attwood
Usain Bolt was in jovial mood at the SECC in Glasgow Photograph: Stewart Attwood

Usain Bolt is in Scotland and living in a house in Dalmarnock. The confirmation of the Jamaican sprint legend's bolthole for the duration of Glasgow 2014 - he will take up his allotted place in the athletes' village -was just one diverting detail in what was an entertaining half-hour introduction to the media at the SECC yesterday.

"Of course I will be in the village," he said. "It's always fun to be among the athletes and it makes you relax more just enjoying talking and laughing and bonding with everyone. But I try not to walk around the village too much because I tend to take a lot of pictures. I will stay in my room most of the time."

If that last statement seemed a tad unconvincing, there was nothing forced about the 27-year-old's happiness to be in Glasgow, even if he was just off a transatlantic flight via Gatwick. Bolt has eight world titles and six Olympic gold medals in his collection - he scooped the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at both Beijing and London - but amid a welter of flash bulbs, camera phones, and even reporters asking for a 'selfie' - he said his first participation in the Commonwealth Games contained real novelty value.

The 27-year-old was sidelined when Nickel Ashmeade won this year's Jamaican championships in a time of 10.06 secs, limiting his involvement in these games to the sprint relay, but he said his injury problems were a thing of the past and assured his public that, so long as his team-mates can get the baton in his hand, that he will be competing.

The Jamaican cheerfully upbraided organisers for failing to give him his full title in recognition of the honorary doctorate he is set to receive from the University of the West Indies - "I would appreciate it if you get my initials and my status right," he said - and showed his agility in negotiating away from any difficult questions which came his way.

In particular, he gave short shrift to one tabloid paper who attempted to ambush him with a kilt -"I have never worn one before," he said, "but red is not my colour" - then bodyswerved away from all attempts to get him pinned down on thorny subjects such as the Israeli operation in Gaza or the debate over the Scottish independence referendum. "I didn't even know that," was his take on the forthcoming Scottish poll in September.

So what exactly does he expect from his time in Scotland? And what exactly does he have in mind in the days leading up to the relay heats next Saturday? "A lot of rain maybe," he said. "And maybe a lot of men in kilts. I didn't come here with a lot of expectation but I would like to see some of the country.

"I am here to run," he added. "Why else would I travel all this way to Glasgow? I will be running, definitely. For me it was very important to be here. I have always wanted to compete at the Commonwealth Games. I strained my hamstring before the first one in Australia in 2006, then in 2010 in India it was in October/November which was a bad time for me because I had the World Championships to prepare for. 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?' As long as there are athletes and eight lanes there is always competition. For me the injury is completely gone. Fitness-wise I have done a lot of training over the past month. I have been really pushing myself to get myself in good shape, but I am not really in running shape just yet."

Also on his to-do list is checking out the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica's netball team, who knows perhaps when they play Scotland today.

He gave a positive endorsement of Louis Van Gaal as Manchester United manager, but declined to pass judgment on whether the likes of Ashmeade or England's Adam Gemili will be crowned Commonwealth 100m Champion at Hampden Park tomorrow night.

But Bolt is here all right: Glasgow 2014 just got an adrenalin shot of genuine star quality.

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