Put a Bolt On It, Usain

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About Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe is a writer living in New York City. He has a weakness for bourbon, jazz and girls who can drive stick. You can read more of his essays here: www.theradcliffescrolls.tumblr.com and http://markradcliffe.com.


  1. Wow…okay so few things. Firstly, “the world’s greatest athlete” is actually the title given to the winner of the decathalon. Bolt’s already come back and been like ‘whoops, my bad, that’s Eaton this year.’ (Not in those exact words, but pretty close). Or at least, that’s what was said in an interview on NBC with Eaton…so apparently Bolt’s sorted it out.

    Second, “the greatest” is one of the most subjective terms like, ever. Greatest in terms of what? Of just what he’s done for his sport in the time he’s been in the sport? Of how his achievements has effected his home country? Of how many medals? Of how many golds? Of how many Olympics-in-a-row he’s done whatever it is he did? I mean, goodness me…you can’t really say he isn’t the greatest any more than he can say he is the greatest.

    Third, that interview was minutes after he’d just swept the sprints for the second time in a row. Humility is not something I’d expect from Mother Teresa in that moment, let alone someone who is known for his antics, like Usain Bolt.

    Finally, that brings us to the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, Bolt’s persona in interviews and at races is actually a character. He gets people talking about him, and revved up during a race. He goofs off and what-not a whole lot. Part of that is arrogance, and part of that is just being goofy. And yet you’ll see him do things like bump the fist of the guy assigned to take away his little box thing before the 200m final, which so obviously just made that guy’s day. Apparently there’s some video around of Bolt hushing a reporter who was talking during the U.S.’s national anthem, which is kind of sweet considering he isn’t even from the U.S.

    So basically…you’ve no idea whether he’s an arrogant asshole, and I’ve no idea whether he isn’t. We just know what little bits we see on the screen. And frankly, if he is an arrogant asshole, it doesn’t affect his racing, so why does it even matter…

  2. He even had the temerity to insult Carl Lewis after his win.
    Bolt is right to slam Braces. I dont know how old you are (im 37) but i remember Lewis as being obnoxious.
    Lewis should also hand back that 1988 Seoul 100m gold medal to Ben Johnson, who as far as Im concerned won it fair and square

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Did you see Lewis’ comments on Pistorius?

      I don’t judge either way, as it isn’t my expertise, but it’s sorta fascinating that Lewis didn’t think Pistorius should even be at the olympics.

  3. Bolt is the greatest sprinter. That 2008 100m Olympic Final run is still electrifying. I still remember the bugeyed-in-shock look on the face of two competitors when they were being interviewed.straight after.

    What would be interesting is to see if he is the greatest ‘pound for pound’ sprinter. Bolt’s stride length is so much larger than the others, I wonder how fast he would be if his times were adjusted for his longer stride length

  4. Since they started to measure the 100 meters electronically, almost to 40 years ago, the record time improved by .5 seconds.

    For about 25 of those years, between Carl Lewis and Powell, the needle moved about .16 seconds. In 4 years, Mr. Bolt moved that needle the same .16 seconds and against the greater gravity of approaching terminal velocity, sans improvements.

    This alone makes him the greatest sprinter ever.

    And triddo to what the folks just above said

  5. I think that was the result of being on the high generated by a great feat.

    It’s like a boxer winning a title and the first thing they say is, “I’m the greatest of all time!!!”

    If Bolt is still saying stuff like this a few weeks later after the high should have worn off then we might have a problem.

  6. Also check out this bit of respect for other athletes:

  7. Mark Radcliffe says:


  1. [...] in a now-famous gaffe, Usain Bolt called himself “the greatest athlete to live”… Turns out that [...]

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