Usain Bolt rises to ‘legend’ status

Usain Bolt rises to ‘legend’ status

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Usain Bolt rises to ‘legend’ status

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt jumps on the podium after the men’s 200m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games to add to his growing list of spectacular moves outside the racetrack. AFP photo

Usain Bolt may believe he is now worthy of the legend tag and be on a par with Michael Johnson -- but he arguably surpasses the American because he can win and entertain at the same time.

The 25-year-old Jamaican achieved his benchmark of what a legend is when he completed an historic successive Olympic individual sprint double with a win in the 200m Olympic final on Aug. 9.

Many observers were happy to confer the ‘legend’ tag on Bolt after he successfully defended his 100m title on Aug. 11, but in his mind he needed gold in the longer sprint to seal the deal.

Bolt had come to London after Blake, who took the world 100m crown last year when Bolt was disqualified, had beaten him in both sprints at the Jamaican trials in June. Doubts have crept in.

But Bolt consigned those defeats to footnotes in history.

“It’s what I came here to do. I’m now a legend, I’m also the greatest athlete to live,” said Bolt. “I am in the same category as Michael Johnson. I’m honored. It’s all about Michael Johnson for me. I grew up watching him break world records. He’s a great athlete.”

Homage to Johnson

The American won gold in the 400m in the 1996 and 2000 Games and smashed the world record as he scorched to 200m gold in 1996.

Unbelievably for someone who has already achieved so much, Bolt went into the Olympics with doubts surrounding whether he could repeat his electrifying sprint double from Beijing.

A modest season by his standards, fitness concerns and an early morning car crash all suggested a troubled champion. But clearly the special atmosphere surrounding an Olympics sparks something in the 25-year-old from Trelawny.

Unlike other entertainers from the sports who fall short when it comes to delivering titles, Bolt has an incredible ability to be able to play to the crowd before a final, then focus on his race and blitz the field.

On Aug. 9, the post-match entertainment consisted of fooling around with the spectators in the Olympic Stadium and borrowing a camera to take a few snaps.

Athletics will be thankful to the man who has done more to give the sport the global recognition it lacked as years of high-profile doping scandals sapped its credibility.

He has been criticized by some like Olympics chief Jacques Rogge for performing to the crowd before a race, but unlike them he has realized that athletics is an entertainment business.

“This is what I do. I’ve said it,” he said. “A lot of people come out to see what I’m going to do today, tomorrow and it’s fun for them.

“I enjoy showing them and giving them the joy I get out of doing this because they give me the energy to do it so I’m always hungry.”