Athlete of the games: Bolt bowls up to talk Flintoff, being clean and Michael 'Phillips'

World's fastest – and coolest – man declares his love for cricket and says he has nothing to fear from drug testers

He might be the fastest man of all time, and not far off the coolest, but Usain Bolt was slow out of his starting blocks yesterday. As the minutes ticked away at a press conference called by his shoe sponsor at the Cigar and Jazz Wine Bar in downtown Beijing, the attendants spent their time fussing about with the armchairs on the stage.

First there were eight seats, then seven, then eight again, then nine and 10. It was rather like what the rest of the world had been doing behind the Lightning Bolt in the fast lanes of the Bird's Nest: rearranging the deckchairs while their Olympic dreams were sinking fast.

It took 68 minutes for the triple gold medal-winner and triple world record-breaker to finally appear. Playing up to the camera-clicking gallery, he ran through his moves, then flopped into a chair and breezed through every question like it was as routine as a... well, as an Olympic 100m final. Even the googly about the dreaded 'D' word was met with a nonchalant cover drive to the nearest palm tree.

Speaking of which, when it came to a simple query about his sporting heroes there was a corker of a reply for the English element in the audience. "I really love cricket," Bolt replied. "Chris Gayle, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist. I also like Flintoff. I like aggressive players." So there you have it: Andrew Flintoff, by all accounts not the world's fastest at pedalling on a pedalo, with a fully paid-up fan club member who just happens to be the fastest thing on two legs.

Oh, and the googly? "We've been tested a lot," Bolt said, speaking not just for himself but for the all-conquering Jamaican sprint squad (women's 4 x 100m relay apart). "I was tested four times before running here. I had my urine and my blood tested. I was tested after all my competitions too. I've been tested so many times I've lost track. I have no problem with it. We work hard. We're clean. Any time they want to test us, it's fine."

As to the question of when Bolt might be tested on the track – truly tested by his fellow competitors – that is anyone's guess. Judging by the jaw-dropping events of the past week, the cartoonist in the International Herald Tribune had it just about right on Friday when he pictured the young man from Trelawny parish sitting in an armchair beyond the finish line with his gold spikes off and his feet up while his nominal rivals are still running their also-ran race. "What kept you?" he enquires of them.

Slumped in much the same fashion in the Cigar and Jazz Wine Bar, Bolt refuted the suggestion that he had enjoyed an armchair ride en route to his unprecedented haul of three golds (100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay) and three world records (9.69sec, 19.30sec and 37.10sec. "It wasn't easy," he said. "I made it look easy, but it was hard." Yeah, right. But might we see the new king of the track break his records on the post-Games European circuit (he runs at 100m in Zurich on Friday, at 200m in Lausanne on 2 September and then at 100m in Brussels on 5 September)? "I think the 100 will be broken over and over and over," Bolt said. "I think the 200 will be hard to beat."

Michael Phelps might have returned home to Maryland with his Fort Knox collection of eight golds, but it is hard to look past the Lightning Bolt as the show-stealing act of the Games. "I don't compare myself to Michael Phillips," Bolt said, having made a name for himself in Beijing but not quite grasped that of the human swimming machine, seemingly. "I leave it to other people to say who is the ruler of the Olympics."

Would the spring-heeled Jamaican not agree, though, that he happens to be some kind of phenomenon? "I wouldn't say a phenomenon," Bolt replied. "Just a great athlete." With that, the great Freddie Flintoff fan upped from his chair, struck another bow and arrow pose for the cameras and took his leave. A class act to the end.

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?