Rio Olympics 2016: Usain Bolt is in denial

Usain Bolt hasn't quite crossed the line first in every Olympic race. Photo / AP
Usain Bolt hasn't quite crossed the line first in every Olympic race. Photo / AP

Usain Bolt is in denial.

The history of his three gold medals in three straight Games is glorious, but there's something missing from his Olympic record.

Often forgotten, and certainly glossed over by the amazing athlete is 2004, when, hampered by a hamstring injury and just 17 years old, Bolt went to the Athens Olympics.

He finished fifth in his 200 metre heat in a time of 21.05 seconds behind Marcin Jędrusiński (POL, 20.63), Tobian Unger (GER), Joseph Batangdon (CMR) and Géza Pauer (HUN).

Yet on Saturday Bolt was asked about Andre De Grasse winning three medals in his debut Olympics.

The question was this: "Usain, in your first Olympics, you won three gold medals, in Andre's first Olympics he's won three medals. Can you give some perspective as to his accomplishment ..."

Usain, that was your cue. Bolt ignored the error, and perhaps it's not his place to correct sloppy reporting, but his narrative of being "the greatest" has no room for the Olympics pre-2008.

Bolt is a character of contrasts. He mugs for the cameras, is genuinely charming to everyone around the track - volunteers, officials, media - but he is as arrogant in his own self aggrandisement as any athlete who ever lived.

There is the monument of the nine golds - which in his eyes makes him the greatest, even though Paavo Nurmi did it first, and Carl Lewis did it plus a silver.

The media jumps on board. Is he the greatest, or just the latest greatest?

Yet even that number nine, could be ephemeral.

In June, the Jamaican Gleaner reported that Bolt's 4x100m teammate from Beijing, Nesta Carter, had returned a positive drugs test after a reanalysis of Beijing samples.

Reuters has reported that both A and B samples have shown positive results, leaving the very real possibility that Bolt will lose one of his nine medals.

Just four days ago the IOC announced it was stripping the Russian 4x100m team from Beijing of its gold medal after a positive test found in a reanalysis of Youli Chermoshanskaya's sample.

So far they haven't commented on the Jamaican result, but how big a PR disaster would that be, and how much of a media frenzy would it provoke, if they had stripped Bolt mid-Olympics as he aimed for the triple-triple.

"No, definitely not," Bolt replied. "It won't tarnish my legacy. I've proven to world over and over that I've done it clean. No stress. It would be disappointing but it's life, what are you going to do? I have no control over that."

Bolt has been written up as the saviour of athletics over the past 10 years. His clash with Justin Gatlin in Rio was billed as "good v evil", considering the American's double doping violation past.

So how will the sport survive without him?

"We've been through some rough patches but we're on the right track with the youngsters that we have," said Bolt.

"We'll continue pushing on. We can only go up now. The IAAF and WADA are doing a good job in helping to clean the sport up. We just put the bad times behind us and move forward."

Carl Lewis has never been totally on board with Bolt.

In 2008, Lewis, who himself admitted returning positive tests prior to the 1988 Games that were covered up, questioned Bolt's incredible 12 month improvement from a best of 10.03 for the 100m to 9.69.

He stands by his statements today.

"What I said is that if I did that I would expect scepticism and I stand exactly where I stood back in '08," Lewis told Fox Sports Australia in Rio.

"I think about what I say before I say it. The reality is that four years later we found out, after 2012 we had whistleblowers, saying we had issues.

"The bigger issue is what are we going to do to make sure the public has confidence in the performances the athletes have."

- news.com.au

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