23-year-old is set to face the Jamaican superstar in Saturday’s 100 metres final at the World Championships in London
CJ UJAH believes if he had not watched Usain Bolt win Olympic gold on TV in 2008, he would not be lining up against him now.
Britain’s top sprinter aims to face defending champ Bolt in Saturday’s 100 metres final at the World Championships in London.
Ujah, who clocked a season’s-best time of 9.98sec in Morocco last month, will run in the heats on opening night 24 hours earlier.
The 23-year-old admitted: “I wasn’t doing the sport in 2008 but I watched the Olympics and remember Bolt slapping his chest crossing the line in Beijing.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to take up athletics’. The following year I did a few races and then in 2010 I started taking the sport a bit more seriously.
“But for Bolt, I probably wouldn’t be here now. He was definitely a contributing factor to me becoming a professional athlete.
“Ever since 2008 I’ve worked to be where I am now. Every year I’ve grown.
“Hopefully, I can push on to be a world and Olympic champion in the future. I feel I belong now.”
Ujah burst on to the senior scene in 2014 when he ran 9.96 in Holland. This year he has been training with Canadian star Andre De Grasse, 22.
Bolt, 30, has tipped ADG to take over from him as sprint king following his Olympic 100m bronze and 200m silver in Rio.
But Ujah beat De Grasse and American drugs cheat Justin Gatlin, who won Olympic 100m silver last summer, in Oregon in May with a wind-assisted third-placed time of 9.95.
And the Brit finished fourth in Monaco two weeks ago in 10.02 as Bolt won the final Diamond League race of his career with a time of 9.95 — his first sub-10sec this year.
Ujah added: “I expect to make the final on Saturday, run my best race, then see what happens.
“I’ve raced these guys week in, week out. I’m getting used to high-intensity racing. The World Championships won’t be anything different. I’m ready.
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“Bolt is the legend and inspiration to the sport and myself and it’s his last individual race. But I feel I’ve got to respect the other athletes on the line as well. They’re there for a reason and anyone can upset anyone. We’ve all got an equal chance.
“Andre believes he’s the heir apparent, the fastest. When you talk to him he doesn’t actually care about Bolt.
“He genuinely wants to be the best and it’s rubbed off on all of us in camp.
“We believe we’re the best now and we take that into every race.
“It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. Andre’s been tipped to be the next one and he’s actually taking it well.
“And it’s helping me. I believe I can beat anyone now.”
Ujah has prepared himself for the reception the crowd will give Bolt when he walks out at the London Stadium for the final 100m of his golden career.
He said: “When we walked out at Monaco the whole crowd was ‘U-sain Bolt’!
“They had us out there for half an hour before we raced. That was a bit of a ploy as I was getting cold and stiff.
“They were playing his music and I was thinking, ‘Wow. We’re here to race and they want us to think about him’.
“But my coach was saying, ‘You’ve got to be ready for this because this could happen in London’.”