Only thirteen human beings have ever covered 100 metres faster than Mike Rodgers.
The two-time World Championship medalist has been at the top of sprinting for the last ten years, duelling with some of the fastest men in history and now with his eyes set on success in 2019.
After concluding a successful start to the year in the IAAF World Indoor Tour, the long road to Doha and that elusive individual gold medal is well underway.
Speaking exclusively to GiveMeSport, Rodgers believes he's in the shape of his life and that his personal best of 9.85 seconds from 2011 is in serious danger.
With one of the most even 100m fields in living memory and Usain Bolt enjoying the luxuries of retirement, Rodgers is expecting big things from the next 12 months.
Mike Rodgers Q&A
We caught up with the Missouri-born sprinter for a question and answer session, discussing everything from his dream 4x100m relay team to claims that NFL players could beat a sprinter over 40 yards. Take a look at the full discussion down below:
How do you reflect on your indoor season?
I had a great indoor season. I actually had a better indoor season than I had last year, time-wise, because by this point last year I was maybe running 6.60 or 6.61 seconds. But now I've run 6.54 seconds already, so I'm pretty pleased with the indoor season.
How do you rate your current 60m rivals and particularly Su Bingtian?
It's just a great part of his race! One of his strengths is the first 60 metres when he's racing 100m, so I'm not surprised by the success that he's had. We have a lot of people who have a very quick first half, some who can run even across the whole race and that's Su's strength in my opinion.
How is Doha - being so late in the season - influencing your outdoor plans?
We're not running it until October, so I've got plenty of time to prep and you've got to have a very strategic schedule. I mean, Americans won't be going to a lot of meets in July to go to London or maybe even Monaco because we have trials. So, we've got to plan accordingly.
Are you looking forward to the latest IAAF World Relays?
I'm really looking forward to the World Relays. I feel like we have a really good team, maybe one of our best teams in a long time, so I'm anxious to see what we can do.
How was it to defeat the 2015 Jamaica team, which had Usain Bolt running the fastest 4x100m relay split ever recorded?
It was very, very interesting. I knew we were going to be ahead with the lead that Justin, Tyson and I would have at the time. But I knew Bolt was very, very fit at the time, so it was amazing to see him run that split. Hopefully I can split something fast this year at the World Relays.
How is your body feeling ahead of the 100m and off the back of a positive 2018?
I feel like I'm probably the strongest I've ever been, because my top-end has been second to none and the whole indoor season people have been commenting about that. So, I'm very excited to see what I can do in the outdoor season.
Do you think Doha is the championships for that evasive World medal?
Man, that's all I've been working towards this year! I think, if everybody is at their best, a high 9.8 would probably win it and something like 9.92 would get a medal as well. But it depends what shape everybody's in by October, it's about whose body holds up.
You're the 14th fastest man in history, how does that feel and can we expect your PB to drop any further?
Man, it's so good to have achieved it but at the time, I didn't really know. I feel like I'm a lot older and wiser now, so I feel I know more about my race and I can definitely go faster. I've been training a few more years and I think I could have hit it last year, maybe faster than that, at the US trials.
Who were your sporting heroes when you were growing up?
I would say Michael Johnson, I watched so much of him when I was growing up, I even had his shoes. I wore them every race during my high school years. Also Maurice Greene, I loved his swag and I loved the energy that he brought to the sport. I just became a fan over the years and those two really stuck out for me, my dad showed them to me while I was growing up.
Who would you consider your toughest competitor on race day?
I'd say, throughout my career, my toughest competitor would probably be Kim Collins. He always brought his best whenever he stepped on to the track, especially during the indoor season because he'd be talking trash to everybody. But we have like a big brother, little brother relationship, I can always talk to him about anything.
From athletes you've competed with, who would make your dream 4x100m relay team?
I would put Bolt on there for sure. Myself and, right now, Christian Coleman would run a really good leg and probably an in-form Tyson Gay.
How do athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin compare in the waiting room?
They're two people who are normal guys but you know, every time we line up, we hate each other. We're all going after the same thing and only the fastest person is going to get it. I guess it's just a sprinter's mentality on the track but off the track, we're all good friends.
What do you put Team USA's relay failures in 2015 and 2016 down to?
We just needed to put more time into it. We all live in different states, our federation doesn't make us go on retreats and learn together with our teammates. We don't have relay championships, we don't have none of that. We still produce great times but I feel like, if we put more into it, we would be on top because we would all be on the same page.
What's your preferred relay position?
I prefer to go straight away, but I can run any leg. We set it up at the Tennessee Relays last year and I hope it stays the same with that order, but I know a few have returned like Bromell, so we really don't know who is going to be the top four when it comes to July. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens in the 100m in the US. We could very well have 9.8 guys sitting at home this year.
What would you say to people who think football players could beat sprinters over 40m?
I would say light it up and put your money where your mouth is! No soccer player is beating no track athlete. We would murder NFL players in a 40-yard dash. You see what Usain Bolt did. He ran 4.22 seconds in casual shoes, what do you think he would do in spikes and on the track? Come on now. It's not even a question man.
What are your goals for the latter years of your athletics career?
Just to get that individual 100m medal, run fast times and really just have some fun. Other than medalling at the next Olympics, I don't really have anything else to work for. I just want to end my career with success and leave with good times and good performances for me, my mum, my family and my kids. They're my goals right there.
Athletics doesn't necessarily get the publicity is deserves in the UK. How do you assess the situation in the US?
We don't get the buzz we deserve unless it's Olympic year. In order to strengthen the sport, we need to get track on TV more in the states and the UK, so maybe we can make more money. But I feel in the UK, you guys have a broader crowd than we have and you could see that in Birmingham, it really makes a big difference.
If you were in charge of increasing interest in the UK, what strategies would you employ?
More TV, more branding and get more companies to get involved. You know, Usain Bolt is the big attraction and they seem to feel like: "If there's not Usain Bolt, why should we put it on TV?"News Now - Sport News