Kingston - World athletics chief Sebastian Coe says Usain
Bolt will retire as the Muhammad Ali of track and field, hanging up his spikes
as the greatest sprinter of all time.
Coe was at Kingston's National Stadium on Saturday to watch
Bolt run his last race on Jamaican soil before he retires at the World
Championships in London.
In an interview with on Sunday, International Association of
Athletics Federations chief Coe said he had been determined to pay homage to
Bolt as his glittering career begins its victory lap.
"Just instinctively you knew it was going to be a big
moment," Coe said.
"This is where his home is. I sense people here
recognised that there was going to be an outpouring of emotion and warmth last
night which I just wanted to witness.
"And what was fascinating is those people who came up
to me who had flown in from other continents to be here. People instinctively
knew that they were going to witness something that was going to be special and
unique, and it was."
Bolt duly delivered a 100m victory in 10.03 seconds for a
sea of 30,000 fans bedecked in yellow and green.
Coe said Bolt will retire from the sport as the greatest
sprinter of all-time, a rare athlete who transcended his sport and appealed
across the sporting spectrum after dominating at three consecutive Olympic
"He has not just reached the level he has in terms of
global presence because of three back-to-back Olympic Games or because of the
world records," said Coe, who set eight world records in middle-distance
track events, including three in the span of 41 days in 1979.
"He has a charisma that I haven't seen in my sport in
my lifetime other than with Ali and I put them in the same category.
"When Ali went we had the same conversations. But along
came Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Maywether, Roberto Duran and Manny Pacquiao .
We had great great fighters. But have they soared to the level of the great
Ali, no. But they kept the sport exciting and fresh.
"You can't take away the massive social contribution
Jesse Owens made in 1936 and you can't argue with the extraordinary
contributions other sprinters have made. But there is only one guy sitting at
the top of the heap and you wouldn't have a split jury on that."
This may be Bolt's last race in Jamaica but he has a couple
more events before he caps his brilliant career by running the 100m in Worlds
which goes from August 4-13.
"He is going to come to the World Championships and yes
that is a fitting place for him to end his career considering what he has done
globally," said Coe.
"But you only have to spend a few moments with Usain to
know that this is where he will forever be emotionally anchored."
Coe said as a former Olympic gold medal winner in the 1 500m
he can understand why Bolt would want to bow out now.
"He probably has instinctively realized this is the
right moment. There comes a point at which the candle flickers a bit," he
said. "No athlete wants to be asked the question why didn't you retire
Coe said Bolt, who has the world record in both the 100m and
200m, can retire in peace knowing that he gave it his all for 15 years.
"Sit back think about it. You are just into your 30s
and you have won three Olympics Games back to back, you broke the world records
and so maybe there is not a lot left to accomplish.
"He is also comfortable in his own skin. He will always
be a national treasure and that is just enough, just enough."