LONDON (AFP) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge hailed Usain Bolt as the greatest sprinter of all time on Sunday as he moved to quell a row with the Jamaican superstar.
Bolt brought the curtain down on another glittering Olympic campaign on Saturday with a blistering last leg in Jamaica’s world record-breaking 4x100m relay run to replicate his three gold medals from the 2008 Beijing Games.
Bolt’s barnstorming finale came just days after Rogge had said final judgement on the sprinter’s place in the Olympic pantheon would have to wait until his career was over.
Rogge’s comments were given short shrift by Bolt however following Saturday’s relay triumph.
“First of all I would like to answer with a question. What else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?,” Bolt said.
“I’ve won both events twice at the Olympics. I’ve won world championship gold medals, I’ve broken world records many times so I don’t know what else to do really.
“So next time you see him (Rogge) I think you should ask him what Usain needs to do. I don’t know what else to do really.”
However Rogge moved to damp down the verbal spat on Sunday as the Games drew to a close.
Asked again where he ranked Bolt, Rogge replied: “It is a semantic question but you would say that Usain Bolt is an active performance legend, an icon and the best sprinter of all time.”
Rogge was speaking in a closing press conference in which he declared the London Olympics had been a “dream for sports lovers”, praising organisers for delivering an “athletes’ Games.”
“I am a very happy and grateful man,” Rogge said.
“London promised an athletes’ Games and that’s exactly what we got. History has been written by many, many athletes – the double treble of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray winning his first major title… I could go on,” Rogge said.
Asked to pick his personal highlight, Rogge said he was torn between the world record-breaking 800m win of Kenya’s David Rudisha and British cyclist Hoy winning his sixth gold medal.
“A magic moment was David Rudisha and his 800m, this was beauty in action,” Rogge said, adding that Hoy’s tears as he received his sixth gold medal were a “defining image” of the Games.