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Tuesday, September 6, 2011
LONDON 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe believes Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has the same pulling power as legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali.
Bolt impressed once more at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu last week, winning gold in the 200 metres and running a superb anchor leg as a new 4x100m relay world record was set.
His achievements came following his false start and subsequent disqualification in the 100m.
Coe, himself an Olympic legend, has compared the sprinter to former World Boxing champion Ali and the Beatles.
“It was like the return of Beatlemania,” Coe said.
“In Daegu Stadium at the World Championships on Sunday night, I watched a host of kids aged about 11 or 12 screaming with excitement and fighting to get near Usain Bolt after his quite stupendous 200 metres triumph and couldn’t help casting my mind forward to London next year. The Muhammad Ali of athletics is on his way to an Olympic Stadium near you.
“It just reinforced for me how fantastic it could be to have Bolt there. There really is an Ali-like aura about this guy that is now transcending all sports.
“If I was going into schools four years ago talking about the Olympics, they weren’t interested in too many Olympians then - it was Lewis Hamilton, Roger Federer, David Beckham, people like that. Now it’s Usain. He feels more important than any of them and here was a glorious reminder why, all things being equal, he’ll be the iconic figure of our Games.
“No man has ever successfully defended both Olympic 100m and 200m titles; do not bet against Bolt doing it.”