Globetrotting by Philip Hersh
12:34 PM EDT, August 10, 2012
LONDON – Maybe it was all part of the act. Maybe Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was putting us all on by calling himself a legend countless times after making history Thursday night, the way Ali did by calling himself the greatest. Maybe Bolt pre-planned it for maximum effect, the way he does the gestures and facial expressions that delight crowds around the world.
It didn't sound that way when Bolt put himself at the same table as Ali, Jordan, and Pele.
If it were the Last Supper, Bolt would take the seat in the middle.
He turned amusing self-aggrandizement into annoying self-apotheosis.
Was that a halo we saw before us?
“I am now a living legend,” Bolt said. “Bask in my glory.”
Don’t misunderstand. To Di World, as Jamaicans say, Bolt is the most compelling personality of the 2012 Olympics, just as he was four years ago in Beijing. He is one of just two foreign athletes – the other is Michael Phelps – to get celebrity treatment from the navel-gazing British media.
Bolt’s achievements have indeed placed him among legendary athletes. No one else has won the 100 and 200 meters at consecutive Olympics.
“I have been saying for the past three years I wanted to become a legend,” Bolt said. “I have done it.”
Doing it was his responsibility. Saying it ad nauseum was not.
A few years back, there was a fur industry ad campaign that used A-plus list celebrities pictured in mink coats as an answer to the question, “What becomes a legend most?”
Usain Bolt doesn’t get the picture.