News Update

Bolt believes he’s joined Ali, Pele in sporting pantheon

Usain Bolt believes he has made it into the pantheon of world sport for good after completing a third straight Olympic sprint double with 200-metre gold and, he hopes, becoming as iconic as boxer Muhammad Ali and footballer Pele.

“I am trying to be one of the greatest. Be among Ali and Pele. I hope after these Games I will be in that bracket,” he said.

Thursday’s was very most likely his last individual race at the Olympics but Bolt will return on Friday seeking a third treble as part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay.

But what counts more is the individual result, according to former 200m and 400m great Michael Johnson.

“This is what it is all about as an athlete. Your career is about what you do in the individual events so Usain Bolt has completed that,” the BBC pundit Johnson said.

“No matter what he does from here he has done something that other athletes have not and may never do again, at least not in our lifetime.”

Bolt is, indeed, a legend – something he always aimed to be and which drove him through his career.

“I don’t need to prove anything else. What else can I do to prove to the world I am the greatest?” he said.

A 100m/200m double is rare, and Bolt then became the first to do a repeat double in London in 2012. Three-peating appears all but impossible for future generations, as Bolt has now raised the bar so high.

But Bolt also hinted that the fans in Rio, and the millions more via television, may have seen his last major 200m race as he plans to run only the 100m at what are to be his final world championships next year in London.

Bolt was originally a 200m runner, earning his first silver at the world championships in 2007. He added the 100m only in 2008 when he ran a world record 9.72 in May, and he then became a global superstar with his world record treble at the Beijing Olympics.

He took three more golds in London and also has 11 world titles as he has ruled the 100m, 200m and 4x100m for almost a decade. His latest world record runs of 9.58 and 19.19 are from the 2009 worlds in Berlin.

Bolt has not been beaten on the track in a major race since his 2007 silver but was however disqualified from the 100m final at the 2011 worlds after a false start.

He came to Rio off a torn thigh muscle on July 1 at the Jamaican trials which cost him several weeks of training, and he was not the season leader.

But like at the 2015 worlds he was there when it mattered while his rivals faltered, most notably American Justin Gatlin in both 100m finals.

In his favourite 200m event, by contrast, Bolt has never been seriously threatened and the story was no different Thursday.

He was miles ahead of the pack entering the home straight and coasted to victory in 19.78 seconds on a track damp from some light rain which had fallen minutes earlier, far ahead of promising Canadian Andre de Grasse who could one day become his heir.

“The 200m is my favourite event. There is a lot of focus. I am relieved,” Bolt said, after a lap of honour in front of the adoring fans chanting his name.

The Jamaican, who turns 30 on Sunday, had hoped to attack his world record on Thursday but that was not to be, a failure he blamed on his age.

“I ran hard around the turn. On the straight, my body didn’t respond. I’m getting old,” he said.

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