BEIJING (AP) – IOC president Jacques Rogge criticized Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt on Thursday for showing a lack of respect to other competitors after his record-breaking gold medal performances in the 100 and 200 meters.
“That’s not the way we perceive being a champion,” Rogge said.
The International Olympic Committee chief hailed Bolt’s stunning achievements in the two sprints, comparing him to American great Jesse Owens, but said Bolt should have cut out the look-at-me flaunting and acknowledged the other athletes.
“I have no problem with him doing a show,” Rogge said in an interview with three international news agency reporters. “I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters.”
Having built a huge lead in Saturday’s 100 final, Bolt slowed, glanced around with arms outstretched and pounded his chest before crossing the finish line in a world record time of 9.69 seconds.
“I understand the joy,” Rogge said. “He might have interpreted that in another way, but the way it was perceived was ‘catch me if you can.’ You don’t do that. But he’ll learn. He’s still a young man.”
Bolt, who turned 22 on Thursday, stormed to another one-sided victory Wednesday night in the 200, breaking Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old record of 19.32 seconds and lowering the mark to 19.30.
Bolt made little effort to congratulate the other runners as he wrapped himself in a Jamaican flag and set off on a solo victory lap. Swaying to the reggae music on the stadium loudspeakers, he walked barefoot around the track, putting his face inches from a TV camera, raising an index finger and yelling, “I am No. 1! I am No. 1!”
“He still has to mature,” Rogge said. “I would love him to show more respect for his competitors. That’s not the way we perceive being a champion. But he will learn in time. He should shake hands with his competitors and not ignore them. He’ll learn that sooner or later. But (he’s) a great athlete, of course.”
*****from Jim Modlin, courtesy of nbcolympics.com*****