Jamaica's Usain Bolt receives the gold medal for the Men's 100 Metres at the Olympic Stadium. PA Wire/Press Association Images

'There's been nobody since Muhammad Ali who's got remotely near to what this guy has done'

IAAF president Sebastian Coe is a big fan of Usain Bolt.

JAMAICAN SPRINT STAR Usain Bolt is a “genius” whose longevity guarantees his place as a legend worthy of a continuing role in track and field, IAAF president Sebastian Coe told AFP in an interview on Friday.

Bolt has won both the 100 and 200m at the Rio Games to match similar feats at the Beijing and London Olympics in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

The Jamaican has the chance of making it a triple-triple of Olympic golds when he races in the 4x100m relay later Friday.

“The man is a genius,” Coe told AFP. “There’s been nobody since Muhammad Ali who’s got remotely near to what this guy has done in terms of grabbing the public imagination.

If you’d said to me back in 2008, given the average longevity of sprinters, that this guy would still be doing what he’s still doing two Games later, you would have taken long odds on it.

“We throw the word great around far too much, there aren’t too many great of anythings.”

Coe, who won two Olympic 1500m golds for Britain in the 1980 and 1984 Games, said his litmus test for greatness came down to the number of years spent grafting on the track.

The difference between the great and the good is longevity and he has longevity and that’s what clinches it for me with him, Mo Farah and other people who come back here four years, sometimes eight years, later,” he said.

“No one’s done it better than Bolt.”

Coe conceded that athletics would be a poorer place without Bolt, but insisted other athletes would come along to fill the vacuum.

“It’s a massive gap, but it’s not a gap that is insuperable,” Coe said.

“You could be forgiven for thinking we’re in a 1973, 1974 discussion asking ‘what are we going to do when Ali’s gone?’

Well, Floyd Mayweather, Marvin Hagler, Manny Pacquiao and Sugar Ray Leonard come along.

“You’re not going to fill that gap overnight, but there are great, talented athletes out there.

“The onus on us now is to make sure the rest of the world know just how good they are.”

- Role within athletics -

Bolt said after winning the 200m that you would have to ask Coe what he might do after his retirement from the track.

And the Briton, who took over the IAAF from disgraced predecessor Lamine Diack last September, confirmed that talks were under way and would continue on a potential role for Bolt within athletics.

“We’ve already discussed that. We started these discussions two or three years ago,” Coe said.

I’ve been very clear, I said ‘Whenever you decide to do other things, let’s make sure in that portfolio of those things you will obviously want to go off and do, we don’t lose you from the sport’.

“I’m very intent on that,” he said, adding: “It’s one of those discussions that probably you can in reality only have once someone’s got their competitive years behind them.

“He’s in no doubt at all about how the sport feels about him and certainly how I do as a president.”

© AFP 2016

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