Published August 10, 2012
Usain Bolt has already done more than any other sprinter in history, with four gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters and the unprecedented achievement of back-to-back Olympic titles in each on his resume. But Bolt will only turn 26 later in August. Could his Olympic career really be over after London, as he hinted after winning the 200 on Tuesday?
Usain Bolt is asked about Rio in 2016: "I think I've had my time. ... I've made myself a legend and I'm just going to enjoy it." — Nicole Auerbach (@nicoleauerbach) August 9, 2012
Bolt has dominated both distances since 2008, when he burst onto the scene in Beijing and set world records in both individual events while winning gold medals. He's only lost once between two Olympics and two World Championships since, and only because of a disqualification for a false start.
But Bolt could go from self-proclaimed legend to the unquestioned best in history with a similarly dominant performance in Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Olympics, where he would theoretically be bidding to become the first man to win gold three times in the 100m and bidding to do the same in the 200m, and could match Carl Lewis's nine golds in track events -- surely, a nice shot across the bow at a legend who has already peeved Bolt.
No man has ever even won three medals in sprint events without hurdles (Edwin Moses won three medals in the 400m hurdles), so Bolt would be heading into uncharted territory by even attempting it.
Bolt isn't quite set up for that yet, as he will need to earn a sixth medal at these Olympics by competing for Jamaica in the 4 x 100m relay. By helping the favored team repeat, though, Bolt would give himself a flawless Olympic record and he'd have the chance to make it an otherworldly one.
And, heck, he'll only be 29 or 30 when Rio rolls around, and 33 or 34 when the 2020 Games are held. If Bolt really wants to leave his eternal shadow behind the Olympic flame, he's got the time to do it.