His spontaneity imparts the sheer joy of running, of winning.
I made myself a legend, he said. I dont really know what to do next the 100, the 200, another event. My coach and I will discuss it. Im not ready to retire yet. I love the sport. To me, track and field is lots of fun.
Bolt was asked about the sports dark side. He was asked if the Jamaican drug team whoops, sorry, a slip of the tongue, a reporter said, he meant the track team was drug-free. Bolt said hard, clean work was the formula. Bronze medalist Warren Weir confirmed that Bolt is out practicing daily at 5:30 a.m.
He was asked to compare himself to Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens. Bolt stopped smiling when he spoke of Lewis, who has been candid on the subject of performance-enhancing drugs.
I always respected Jesse Owens, Bolt said. But this will be controversial Ive lost respect for Carl Lewis. What he says about track athletes is downgrading them. For an athlete out of the sport to say that its upsetting. Its for attention.
Lewis was a great sprinter and the worlds best long jumper. But he was never as embraceable as Bolt. He hasnt been an ambassador for track. Bolt is the kind of guy who tried to put the young volunteer carrying his gear at ease just seconds before his race.
She looked kind of nervous, he said. I asked why. She said, Im so excited. Thats what I like to do, bump fists with them, interact with them, show appreciation to them for carrying our bags.
Showman, yes. Prima donna, no.
Whether he is in front of one person or 60,000, he is the same, said Bolts agent, Ricky Sims. He really, genuinely is.
Bolts upbringing imbued him with empathy his ability to connect with people. In rural Trelawny, he grew up in a little house with no modern plumbing. One of his chores was fetching buckets of water. No matter how many millions he earns, he will always remember the barefoot boy racing his friends.
With due respect to Michael Phelps, track isnt swimming. Track athletes cant compete in three relays and five individual events. Each race requires different skills and training, rather than a variation on the same essential stroke. That is why what Michael Johnson, Lewis and Bolt have done is so unusual.
Just wait until Bolt tries the 400.
I hate the 400, he said.
But living legends cant rest on their laurels.