Usain Bolts grand racing style and easy sense of showmanship will be missed there is something of the old amateur spirit about it all, the illusion of effortless superiority
Farewell then Usain St Leo Bolt, also known as Lightning, also known (but only to his mum) as VJ and now also known for as long as anyone cares to keep measuring these things as the greatest track and field athlete ever. Eight years on from that introductory Beijing Olympics, the most compelling figure of the modern Games capped another frictionless display of human ultimacy in Rio by leading Jamaica home in the 4x100metres relay and earning not just another gold medal but a lovely collegiate moment of farewell.
Bolt ran the final leg in Rio, taking the baton level with Japans Aska Cambridge. From there it was just a case of rolling himself upright and oozing into that thrillingly powerful stride to take it by a suitable measure of fresh air. Watching him giggle and pose and goof about with Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade at the end it seemed absurd anybody could have doubted the dreadfully monikered ThreePeat, aka the Triple Treble, would come to pass. Bolt will now retire from Olympic competition with an astonishing full house of nine successive gold sprint medals.
It makes sense in most sports to reject the title greatest of all time. Time has not yet run out. The boundaries are always being pushed back, new peaks crested. With Bolt the notion of full-blown GOAT-ism seems less of a stretch. This isnt just a Threepeat, its an unThreepeatable Threepeat. For a man whose life is measured out in fractions of a second his longevity is equally astonishing. Carl Lewis is the only previous man to have won two Olympic 100m sprint gold medals. Nobody had ever done it in the 200m. For Bolt to win both three times in a row, to do so while smiling and clowning and running a race apart, is something beyond, barely speciesparity.