KINGSTON - The coach of triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt is prepared to wait a while longer before declaring him the world's greatest ever sprinter.
Glen Mills, who guided Bolt to victory in the 100 and 200 meters in world record times at this year's Beijing Games, believes his charge has plenty more to prove.
"His performance as a sprinter at the Beijing Olympics is the greatest ever in terms of quality," Mills told Reuters in an interview.
"However, that's one performance. I would like to see him back that up with other outstanding performances before he can be called the world's greatest ever. I want more from him, because right now it is even difficult to compare other athletes with him."
Bolt, 22, is favorite to win the sport's top two annual awards in Monaco on Saturday. After elaborate post-Beijing celebrations that Mills said disrupted his training regime, the lanky sprinter has begun training for the 2009 season, highlighted by the world championships.
"Training has just started but we are constantly interrupted with his numerous engagements. Hopefully, after Monaco we will be able to sit down and map out something in terms of his training so that we can be competitive," Mills said.
Bolt will not be running any 400 meters races in 2009 and will not compete on the indoor circuit because the risk of injuries is too great. Breaking more records is high on Mills' agenda for 2009, although consistency from a man he regards as a son and friend is a more important goal.
Criticized by Mills for celebrating 25 meters from the end of the 100 meters final in Beijing, a move Mills believes denied Bolt a time of 9.50 rather than the 9.69 he clocked, the sprinter will receive stricter instructions next year.
"We earmark the big events, with the Olympics being number one and the world championship number two in terms of importance," Mills said. Mills puts Bolt's transformation from an athlete who could only manage moderate times and performances until last year down to his training program.
"He has now developed his talent to the level that he can perform to the potential that he showed in earlier years," Mills said. "He started as a junior, suffered setbacks that put him out of action for a couple of seasons and it took a few seasons for him to make that reconnection that was needed.
"Those of us who were involved with him knew how hard it was to take him to the highest level," Mills said.
Mills is aware that Bolt will face serious competition, but believes in him. "Every athlete will be gunning for him next year, and he will do very well again."