History-maker Usain Bolt said he deserves to be among sport’s all-time greats after romping to a third straight Olympic 200m gold in Rio.
The world’s fastest man argued that 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 focus.”
Bolt, who has now won a staggering 19 Olympic and world titles, insisted that 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 I said it’s my last Olympics,” added Bolt.
“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.”
Bolt’s 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 tomorrow, 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.”