The long-awaited first meeting between Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps occurred rather unremarkably, at an airport en route to the Laureus Sports Awards in Monaco on Monday, according to Laureus.
Bolt and Phelps then each won an award at the annual show on Tuesday, Bolt garnering Best Male Athlete and Phelps earning Comeback of the Year for their performances at their last Olympics in Rio.
They sat at bordering tables at the show (evidenced by Phelps’ presence in between Bolt’s trophy and the sprinter’s face in this image). After, they were on stage together, as Bolt gathered more than a dozen in attendance for a selfie and to share in his iconic “To Di World” pose.
Bolt also said in Monaco that he believed his 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, set in 2009, will probably be broken in 10 or 15 years, according to multiple reports.
“I think, just looking at the crop [of young sprinters] right now, I probably have 10, 15 years,” he said, according to the Times of London.
Bolt’s retirement at the end of this year will leave large spikes to fill in track and field. He had words of advice to young sprinters, especially Andre De Grasse, who earned three sprint medals for Canada in Rio at age 21 but is perhaps best known for exchanging grins with Bolt during the 200m semifinals
“I’ve said to a few athletes that I know personally, ‘You guys need to show your personality, not just performance. Listen to me, I’m not trying to say you should try and do weird things, but people want to see personality and something different,'” Bolt said, according to the Times. “Hopefully they’ll trust me and try to change.
“I said to De Grasse last season, ‘Listen to me, yes you’re doing well, but you guys are too quiet. Look at the attention you got because we were having fun.’ People were like, ‘De Grasse is so cool.’ “
Bolt also cautioned to young sprinters who have already signed lucrative endorsement contracts. De Grasse and American Trayvon Bromell inked with Puma and New Balance, respectively, while still in college. Americans Candace Hill, Kaylin Whitney and Noah and Josephus Lyles turned pro in the last two years as teenagers.
“When I started track and field you didn’t get paid a lot when you just came out of high school,” Bolt said, according to the Times. “Now when you have young talent, they get paid so early that a lot of them just lose their way real quick.
“If De Grasse can focus, or the other talents can focus, there is going to be great competition in years to come. But I’ve seen it so much, where the young kids start getting paid and they just drop out of the scene. It’s all about who wants it. We’ll see.”
Bolt’s next scheduled meet is the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston on June 10, but he could (and likely will given his past) sign up for another race between now and then.Follow @nzaccardi