Usain Bolt declared himself the greatest athlete in history before launching an astonishing attack on Carl Lewis.
Bolt became the first man to win the sprint double double at the Olympics with a stunning performance in the 200 metres, comfortably beating his friend and training partner Yohan Blake.
But he also took the opportunity to tear into Lewis for comments the American sprint legend is understood to have made before the London Games.
Bolt feels Lewis all but accused him of being a drug cheat, casting aspersions on his performances in an interview. ‘It is really annoying that Lewis said those things without any proof,’ said Bolt. ‘Nobody really remembers who he is. I shouldn’t have responded to that question but what he said was really annoying.’
That was in the interview mixed zone but he raised the issue again in the main press conference.
‘I am going to say something controversial,’ said Bolt. ‘What Carl Lewis said has degraded the sport. It was really upsetting and I have lost all respect for him. He was talking about drugs and I can only think he was looking for attention.’
After winning gold in the 100m and 200m in Beijing, the man who is also the double world record-holder followed victory in the shorter distance here in London with another demonstration of his astonishing ability here last night.
He destroyed Blake, easing off because of a sore back but still equalling Michael Johnson’s winning time of 19.32 at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
In a trademark act of showmanship, Bolt looked back across the track to Blake, raised an index finger to his lips, did a couple of press-ups once he had come to a halt and then walked back to kiss the finishing line. He even borrowed a photographer’s camera to take a picture.
When he walked into the press conference room he called for a ‘drum roll’ and then he said: ‘I’m now a legend. I am the greatest athlete to live. To all the people who doubted me, who thought I would lose here, you can stop talking now. I am a living legend.’
He was asked if he was now on the same level as ‘Ali, Jordan and Pele’, before someone enquired as to whether he had superseded Bob Marley as ‘the greatest Jamaican in history’.
‘Ali was the greatest in his sport, Jordan the greatest in his, and I am the greatest in mine, so I guess I am at that level,’ he said. ‘I am in the same category as Michael Johnson too. Bob Marley? I’m just carrying on his duty. We have the same goal, to make Jamaica a country that is loved around the world.’
The questions became more bizarre, more risqué. He was asked about the Swedish athletes he photographed in his room after the 100m final — a picture he posted on Twitter — and then about what kind of woman could live with a ‘living legend’.
‘I used to have a type but I don’t have a type any more,’ he said. ‘It’s all about falling in love. There, I said it.’
But there was a moment of embarrassment for a journalist when he referred to ‘the Jamaican drug team’ before correcting himself and asking if the ‘Jamaican track team are drug free’.
‘Drug free?’ responded Bolt. ‘Without a doubt. We work hard. We work every day. We get injured. When people doubt us it’s really hard but we try to show the world we run clean.
‘Tonight was what I wanted and I got it. I’m very proud of myself. I had a rough season but I came out here and I did what I had to do. It was possible that I could have broken the world record but I guess I wasn’t fit enough. I was fast but I wasn’t fit enough.
‘I came off the corner and I could feel the strain on my back a little so I was trying to keep form. But I stopped running because I knew I wasn’t going to break the world record.’
Bolt led two fellow Jamaicans — Warren Weir took the bronze — to victory in a stunning one-two-three. ‘We’ve been working hard all season,’ he said. ‘We pushed ourselves, we pushed each other and we are happy.’