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Usain Bolt — the greatest sprinter in history — says he could have had a better career if he'd been 'more serious'

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Usain Bolt's career is a disappointment to nobody — except, perhaps, to Bolt himself.

Speaking from the IAAF awards after winning male Athlete of the Year, Bolt said if he could go back in time, he would change one thing: taking his sport more seriously early in his career to have won more medals.

"When I look back the only real thing I think I would change was to have got more serious more quickly," Bolt said, according to Reuters' Mitch Phillips.

"I was relying more on my talent. If I'd got more serious I think I would have done a lot more in my career. It's shocking but it's true. Maybe if I'd started younger I'd have had four Olympics."

Bolt said that after losing to US sprinter Tyson Gay at the 2007 World Championships, his trainer motivated him to get better.

See Bolt through the years:

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Usain Bolt through the years
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Usain Bolt through the years
Usain Bolt of Jamaica turns to look at Andre De Grasse of Canada as they compete in the Men's 100m Semifinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, August 14, 2016. Kai Pfaffenbach: 'When Usain Bolt prepared for his 100m semi-final I decided to play with slow shutter speed for that race. I set my camera (shutter speed) to a 50th of a second and was waiting for the moment when he passed my position. At the very right moment he looked to his left with the proud smile and my first thought was: "hopefully I got this sharp." Well, I've been a lucky bunny in this case but I still would not have imagined at this moment that this picture would go viral and get worldwide recognition.' REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
FILE PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after his team won the men's 4x100m relay athletics final in the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008. Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals after Jamaica team mate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
Jamaican sprinter and GQ Man of the Year Usain Bolt poses at the GQ Men of the Year Party in West Hollywood, California, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 20: Jamacian sprinter Usain Bolt poses at the Daegu Bell prior to the lAAF World Athletics Championships, on August 20, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images for Puma)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 02: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning his men's 200 metres semi final during day seven of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 2, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 03: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates claiming gold in the men's 200 metres final during day eight of the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Daegu Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - MARCH 06: Prince Harry poses with Usain Bolt at the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies on March 6, 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica. Prince Harry is in Jamaica as part of a Diamond Jubilee Tour, representing Queen Elizabeth II, taking in Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 04: (L-R) Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrate victory and a new world record in the men's 4x100 metres relay final during day nine of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 4, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Usain Bolt of Jamaica leads James Dasaolu of Great Britain in the Men's 100m Round 1 Heats on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Usain Bolt of Jamaica acknowledges the crowd ahead of the Men's 100m A race on day one during the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games - IAAF Diamond League 2013 at The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on July 26, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Sainsburys)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 11: Usain Bolt of Jamaica (C) crosses the line to win gold ahead of Kemar Bailey-Cole of Jamaica, Justin Gatlin of the United States and Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica in the Men's 100 metres Final during Day Two of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 11, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 11: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning gold in the Men's 100 metres Final during Day Two of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 11, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Jamaica's Usain Bolt wins the 100 metres final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 11, 2013 while a lightning strikes in the sky. Bolt timed a season's best 9.77 seconds, with American Justin Gatlin claiming silver in 9.85sec and Nesta Carter, also of Jamaica, taking bronze in 9.95sec. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 17: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 200 metres final during Day Eight of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 17, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 15: Gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica kisses his gold medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men?s 100 metres on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 27: Usain Bolt of Jamaica kisses the track after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men's 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Andre de Grasse of Canada (L) and Usain Bolt of Jamaica (C) react as they compete in the Men's 200m Semifinals on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 19: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after winning the Men's 4 x 100m Relay Final on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 01: Usain Bolt, sprinter, ninefold olympic champion and elevenfold world champion with green glasses during the Oktoberfest at Schuetzen-Festzelt /Theresienwiese on October 1, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
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"After I lost I remember going to my coach saying, 'I really tried my best but what can I do to win because I really need to win?' He said, 'You're slacking off in the gym. If you want to win you have to get stronger.' So I was like 'alright'. I knew what I needed to do and from then I took the step and just worked and worked."

Bolt is largely considered the greatest sprinter of all time. He completed a triple-triple in the Rio Olympics this year, winning gold medals in the 100-, 200-meter, and 4x100-meter in for the third time in his career, to bring his gold medal total to nine.

Bolt added that he is reducing his workload for one more season in which he'll only run the 100-meter.

Bolt didn't disappoint in dominating three Olympic games, and he went out on top, but what he could have been if he took his sport more seriously is a tantalizing thought.

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