Usain Bolt was steadfast. Now is the right time to retire.
The 30-year-old said he did not race one year too many. He feels no need to compete again, to continue on and end his career with a victory.
“No, I think I’ve seen too many people retire and come back into the sport to really make it worse or to shame themselves,” Bolt said Sunday at the 2012 Olympic Stadium, where he came for one final lap of honor on the last day of the 10-day meet. “I personally won’t be one of those persons to come back.”
The eight-time Olympic champion can live with losing his last two races — to polarizing rival Justin Gatlin in the 100m at worlds in London on Aug. 5 — and tumbling to the track in the 4x100m relay on Saturday.
“I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done,” he said. “I remember, after losing the 100m, someone said to me, ‘Usain, don’t worry, Muhammad Ali lost his last fight also.'”
Bolt said he would have an MRI on Monday to assess what he called a “pulled hamstring” that bit him about 15 strides into his relay anchor leg Saturday.
It’s certainly a different ending than what could have been. Bolt left the Olympic stage on top in Rio, sweeping the sprints and kissing the track rather than lying on it face down in pain.
In hindsight, should Bolt have retired one year ago?
“No, I’m fine,” he said. “As I’ve told you, my fans, they wanted to see me one more year. I told you guys, this was about my fans. … If I could come out here and give the fans a show, no matter how it ended, for me, I’m happy.”
Bolt’s immediate future?
“Party,” he said. “I need to go out and have a drink.”
In the following months and years could come more headlines about Bolt dabbling in soccer. Maybe a family.
“Hopefully three kids,” by 20 years from now, he said, adding that he wouldn’t force them into track and field.
Months before these worlds, Bolt wondered if the farewell would move him to tears. He had never cried at a track meet.
“I think I almost cried,” Bolt said. “It was close, but they [tears] didn’t come. I was just saying goodbye.”
That doesn’t mean it was not emotional.
“It’s just really sad that I have to walk away now,” he said.
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