Usain Bolt recently played the game Heads Up in a video interview, taking index cards and raising them above his head, one by one, without looking at the words on the card.
For each card, the interviewer gave Bolt clues for him to guess what was written on the card. Midway through the game, an interesting card came up.
The clue: “He was the most accomplished athlete in the 2008 Olympics.”
Bolt’s answer: “Usain Bolt,” without hesitating.
The name on the card: “Michael Phelps.”
Bolt quickly corrected himself and said, “Michael Phelps,” after the interviewer shook his head but before the interviewer could say the swimmer’s name. Bolt smiled, laughed a little and said he was “messing around” in first naming himself.
It was just one moment in a humorous exercise, but it was a reminder that two of the greatest Olympians of all time, who peaked at the same Beijing Games, both will likely say their Olympic farewells in Rio de Janeiro in two years (assuming Phelps continues on his comeback toward Rio; Bolt has said he will retire in 2017).
And they say they have never met. Not at an awards show. Not even at three previous Olympics together, inside the athletes’ village.
“Normally you see athletes that you pass and you say hello to,” Phelps said last month. “I’ve never seen him, never walked past him.”
Both Phelps and Bolt said they would like to meet one another.
“I mean, you definitely would want to meet the fastest man in the world,” Phelps said.
“It’d be cool to meet him,” Bolt said. “Just to have a conversation with him.”
Bolt said he’s never been to any of Phelps’ races, but he’s watched swimming on TV in the athletes’ village.
“It’s just outstanding, what he does,” Bolt said. “I know swimming is hard. I have respect for every sport because I’ve tried different sports at different times. I’ve noticed the hard work that people put in.
“Somebody to go out and win eight gold medals, that’s no joke. It’s nothing but respect.”
Asked what he thought of Bolt, Phelps said:
“Obviously, he’s a very talented athlete, and the fastest man to ever walk the Earth. I don’t really know what else to say.”