Years ago, Usain Bolt asked Michael Johnson why Johnson retired near the top of his game after repeating as Olympic 400m champion in Sydney in 2000.
“Listen, I’ve done everything in this sport. I was on top. Why should I continue?” Bolt recalled Johnson telling him.
“So you accomplish everything you want to accomplish,” Bolt continued in an early 2016 interview. “At some point, you just say, listen, let me leave the sport.”
If it was up to Johnson, Bolt wouldn’t have competed at all this year, which culminated in a third-place finish in the world championships 100m (video) and a torn hamstring in the 4x100m relay (video).
“Last year, my advice to him was stop after Rio,” Johnson said while in India this week. “But he left it and went one year too long. That’s very difficult to do when there is not the motivation anymore.”
Still, Johnson said it doesn’t matter that Bolt was beaten in his last races.
“Walk down the street right now, three months after the world championships, and you say to someone, all right, so these are the athletes that were in the 100m final in 2017 in London, which one won?” Johnson said. “If they see Usain Bolt‘s name there, they’re going to say Usain Bolt. … The point I’m making is, he has established such an amazing career that even though that championship didn’t end the way that he wanted it to, he’s still going to have the most amazing record ever in the history of sprinting. So I think he afforded himself the opportunity to have that situation not end it the way that he wanted it to.”
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