Usain Bolt loss in Rome would be big news - Colin Jackson

By Colin JacksonBBC Sport athletics pundit
Usain Bolt's incredible 2012

Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt will compete in Europe for the first time this year when he lines up for the Diamond League's 100m in Rome. Former 110m hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson analyses the Jamaican's early-season form and discusses whether Bolt can secure a third successive victory in Italy.

Every time Usain Bolt competes we're all expecting him to run sub 10 seconds and record one of the fastest times in history. That brings huge pressure.

Having retained his 100m and 200m titles in London last year, he's in a different zone. He achieved what his heart wanted and now it is about maintaining his status, and that can be difficult when you're pulled to and fro.

What is great for us is that we can see him worrying. We love a story and we love to see him under a bit of pressure, but he is one of the world's true champions and that's a very special place to be.

Usain, because of all he has achieved, carries a lot of weight when he walks into a room and that's significant when it comes to competitions like this.

We saw him run 150m in Brazil earlier this year on Copacabana beach, where he won and ran reasonably well. Unfortunately for him, expectations are very high.

Usain withdrew from the Jamaican International invitational in May because of a slight hamstring strain and it doesn't surprise me sometimes when he picks up niggling injuries because just being a little bit tired can set you back.

Everything he does invariably involves a long-haul flight and I can assure you they are not good for your body - although he doesn't travel cattle class I'm sure!

When you're travelling, and putting stress on those legs, you miss out on a decent night's sleep because you're not stretched out in your own bed. All these things add up when you're doing it on a regular basis.

It's Usain's desire to maintain his status which can cause these niggling injuries. You arrive at, say, London, from Jamaica and instead of making the wise decision to rest he probably feels he has to train straight away when the reality is that he doesn't necessarily need to do that.

Bolt and his fans don't need to worry

For Usain it's about picking his races wisely. I know his management agency very well and his coach and management have a nice relationship and every time he competes it's for a purpose. He never races just because he needs to run.

I'm looking forward to seeing what he does produce in Rome. His preparations must have gone well for him to be there and I'm expecting him to go under 10 seconds if conditions are good.

This time last year everyone was fretting about him because he lost in the Jamaican Championshipsexternal-link but he ended up running the second-fastest time in history in the Olympic 100m final. We're talking about a man of class, a six-time Olympic champion, and we should never doubt him.

His season's best so far is 10.09, but when he really needs to he puts his foot down and he'll go quick enough in Rome - and if it's a sub 10-second run that's needed to win the race then that's what he'll do.

He doesn't need to focus on times. It's very early in the season - the World Championships are in August - so there's a long time before he needs to be in tip-top shape.

We've seen lots of fast times this year - Tyson Gay running 9.86external-link and Justin Gatlin 9.88external-link - but Usain, at his best, is 3m better than that.

The only thing he needs to do in Rome is to win. He doesn't need to qualify his ability to any of us - it's all about the victory.

If he ran 9.7 it wouldn't surprise me, but it would surprise me if he lost. It would be a big deal if he failed to win because we're not used to seeing him lose.

Usain's in half-decent shape. His winter has gone as well as expected because he hasn't cancelled any of his early-season meets and that gives you a good indication that everything is on track.

Can Dai Greene retain his world title?

Dai is back in action in Rome after an awful year last year because of injury. He had an operation on his knee before Christmas and it took time for him to recover, and then just as he's on the road back he gets knocked down by a virus.

People have got to remember that for the 400m hurdles you need the lot; the endurance of a middle distance runner and the speed of a sprinter. There's a lot of work you have to pack into a short space of time to be ready for the season and Dai just ran out of time last year, so he couldn't produce what was expected of him.

I know he's had another sketchy winter and needed a double hernia operation in March.external-link He's suffered with a couple of niggling injuries, which is caused by the amount of work he has to get through.

Dai's focus will be on defending his world title and I absolutely believe he can do that.

I've been looking at some of this season's results and no-one has been spectacular. If he manages to break the British record in the final in Moscow, then the title could be his.

Ideal conditions for Idowu in Rome

I've not heard too much about what Phillips has been up to or how his preparations have gone this winter so, like everyone else, I'm waiting to see what form he's in when he's up against quality performers.

Rome is usually still, there's not normally much wind, which makes it easier for getting a consistent run up for the triple jump. It should be ideal conditions for Phillips.

Colin Jackson was speaking to BBC Sport's Aimee Lewis

Archive from 2012: Bolt back to best in Rome