History-maker Usain Bolt said he deserves to be among sport’s all-time greats after romping to a third straight Olympic 200m gold.
With a third consecutive sweep of the 100m, 200m and relay sprints in sight today, the world’s fastest man argued he should be in the pantheon of sporting heroes with Pele, Muhammad Ali and Michael Phelps.
“I am trying to be one of the greatest. Be among Ali and Pele,” he declared in the seconds after the win.
“I’ll wait to see what you guys write tomorrow,” the sprint king added at a later press conference.
“I’m just waiting to see what the media have to say and if they put me in that bracket,” he said when asked how he stacked up against football star Pele and boxing legend Ali.
Usain Bolt, who has now won a staggering 19 Olympic and world titles, insisted he had run his final individual Olympic race.
“That’s why is why I said it’s my last Olympics,” added Bolt, who will look to bow out with the so-called triple-triple in the 4x100m relay today.
Bolt’s achievements rank with swimmer Phelps — the most successful Olympic athlete ever — who signed off with five more gold medals in Rio to extend his record tally to 23.
But Bolt, who turns 30 when the Rio Games close on Sunday, refused to say who was the greatest Olympian.
In an era when the spectre of doping in sport looms large and one of his biggest rivals, American Justlin Gatlin, is a two-time drug cheat, Bolt took a swipe at dirty athletes.
“I’ve just proven to the world that you can do it clean, with hard work and determination,” he said. “I’ve made the sport exciting, made people want to watch the sport. I’ve just put the sport on a different level and put on it a different pedestal.”
Bolt looked annoyed as he crossed the line in 19.78 seconds, well ahead of Canada’s Andre De Grasse (20.02) but some way off the world record of 19.19 he set in Berlin seven years ago.
“I wanted to run a faster time,” he said. “I knew it was going to be hard to break the world record because when I came off the corner, my legs decided: ‘Listen, we’re not going to go any faster.’
“I wasn’t fully happy but the key thing is that I won and that’s what I came here for. I’m not 21 anymore.”