It is one thing for the casual track fan to doubt Jamaican’s Usain Bolt’s chances of repeating gold in the 100 meter reace. But when it comes from a nine-time gold medalist, well, it carries just a little more weight.
So, when Carl Lewis, one of the greatest Olympic track heroes of all time speaks, it’s heavy. But his reasoning had little to do with Bolt’s skills as it did the dynamics of being on top.
“The reason it hasn’t been done is because it’s hard to stay at that level for a long period of time,” Lewis said to the Indo Asian News Service. “People are always trying to beat you when you are a champion.”
That has already played out in recent weeks. Yohan Blake, a friend and countryman, defeated Bolt in the Jamaican Olympic Trials in both the 100 and 200, which are considered Bolt’s strongest events. So, Lewis wonders what impact being beaten has on him.
“Blake has beaten Bolt two years in a row now after the World Championships in 2011 and we don’t know what Bolt’s head is like when he loses,” Lewis said.
Lewis is the only man in Olympic history to repeat as gold medalist in the 100. But even that achievement is somewhat skewed. Lewis won the 100 as part of his epic four-gold performance in 1984 in Los Angeles when he was one of the overall stars of the Games. In 1988 in Seoul, Korea, Lewis came in second behind Canada’s Ben Johnson, who blistered the field.
However, Johnson tested positive for an anabolic steroid and had his first-place finish revoked. As the second-place finisher, Lewis was granted the gold retroactively, giving him, technically, back-to-back golds in the 100. As for the 200 meter race, no man has ever repeated as Olympic champion.
Blake and Justin Gatlin as legitimate challengers to Bolt, Lewis does not envision him standing at the gold medal stand when it is all over.