LONDON – Usain Bolt admitted Thursday that despite streaking to a unique second successive Olympic sprint double, decathlon champion Ashton Eaton was the best athlete in the world.
Bolt declared himself the “greatest athlete to live” after successfully defending his 200m title in 19.32sec. He had earlier retained his 100m title.
On Thursday Eaton, the world record-holder from the United States, wrapped up the decathlon, the gruelling 10-discipline event spread over two days.
And when questioned directly, Bolt backed down from his declaration.
“I’m a great athlete, but to do 10 events, especially the 1500m, I have got to give it to him!” Bolt said.
Decathlon silver medallist Trey Hardee had earlier, and rather more pointedly, insisted that the accolade of world’s best athlete belonged to his US team-mate Eaton.
“So Ashton doesn’t have to sound selfish or self-centred, Ashton is the best athlete that has ever walked the planet, hands down,” Hardee said, interrupting a question to Eaton.
“The title bestowed upon the Olympic champion in decathlon is the world’s greatest athlete and Ashton’s the world record holder in that event, the same reason Usain Bolt can be the fastest man on the planet because that’s the title that’s bestowed upon those event winners.
“Just because you’re fast doesn’t make you an athlete,” said Hardee.
“Ashton was the world’s fastest decathlete for a number of years but he became a real decathlete and that’s what you’ve seen this year.”
A blushing Eaton responded: “Thanks, Trey!
“There’s no fight,” Eaton continued. “Usain is clearly awesome in his own right and is an icon of the sport.
“I think titles are for, I don’t know, books and stuff. I just like doing what I’m doing.”