Western Grandstand : Bolt, not just great, he is unbelievable

August 05, 2017

Western Bureau:

Today will mark the end of arguably the most sustained period of dominance by any individual athlete when track and field superstar Usain Bolt graces the track competitively for the last time at the 2017 IAAF World Championship in London, England.

It is my hope that the iconic sprinter will bow out in fine style by winning the 100 metres, which would add 'unconquerable' to his legendary status. This would widen the gap he has opened up over the likes of basketball great Michael Jordan and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, even further.

While it could be argued that, in their prime, Jordon and Ali, were head and shoulders above all the other athletes in their respective sport, I believe that based on his phenomenal record-breaking feats and his complete dominance of the 100m and 200m between 2008 and 2017, he sits alone in a league of his own.

For the Ali fans, I fully appreciate that, being a three-time heavyweight champion in arguably the most brutal division in boxing and scoring memorable victories over the likes of George Foreman and Joe Frazier, truly speaks to greatness. However, we can't sidestep the fact that he lost a few fights and suffered the indignity of being floored and having his jawbone broken.


Greatly admired


In fact, to be brutally frank, Ali's greatness was not all about boxing, but also included his political battles with the United States government, which saw him refusing to be drafted into the US army and being sent to prison for five years. He was also greatly admired for steadfastly hanging on to his Muslim belief at a time when it was not fashionable to do so.

As I have been saying for many years, I have the ultimate respect for his extraordinary skills as a pugilist of the highest quality. His amazing ring record of 61 fights, 56 wins, 37 knockouts, with just a mere five defeats, alongside his Olympic Games gold medal, leaves no doubt about his greatness

Insofar as Jordan is concerned, while no one questions his exceptional talent, we have to acknowledge that his greatness is not universal, as unlike track and field and boxing, basketball is not truly a global sport. However, on the evidence of what he has achieved, it would be hard not to place him on the pedestal of greatness.


Global reach


In fact, with six NBA championship rings, six NBA Finals MVP awards, being a 10-time NBA scoring leader, having been a 14-time NBA All-Star, and winning two Olympic gold medals with the US Dream Team, there can be no question that, regardless of the global reach of basketball, Jordon represents class and exceptional achievements.

But back to Bolt. When one examines his incredible period of sustained dominance, his undefeated status and his world records, his achievements have been elevated to irrefutable realms. In fact, while Ali's and Jordon's greatness can be questioned by those who choose to be subjective, the stopwatch has made Bolt untouchable so far.

Three consecutive Olympic Games sprint doubles (100m and 200m) titles, seven individual IAAF World Championship gold medals and two amazing world records, which all were won in an era when we had the greatest sprinters of all time, is not just great, it is unbelievable.

So, today, as I wait with bated breath to see Bolt thundering down the track in London for the last time, I must give thanks that I had the privilege of living in the same era with him because it gave me the opportunity to see the greatest athlete that has ever graced our planet.

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