Usain Bolt (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - History-maker Usain Bolt says 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 on Friday, 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.
"I've worked all my career, all my life for this moment. Hopefully
you can read about me as one of the greatest people in sport, that's my
Bolt, who has now won a staggering 19 Olympic and world titles, insisted he had run his final individual Olympic race.
"I've proven to the world that I'm the greatest and that's what I
came here for," he said, sounding for a moment like Ali himself.
"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 on Friday.
"I can't prove anything else. To be eight-time Olympic gold medallist
now is a big deal, it's shocking. I've pushed myself to be the best,
there's nothing else I can do."
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.
"I can't say, swimming and track and field are totally different
events," he shrugged. "He's proved he is one of the best without a
doubt. He's won so many medals, he's dominated the sport. We're great in
our own different fields."
In an era when the spectre of doping in sport looms large and one of
his biggest rivals, American Justin 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
"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."