Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt labelled the Commonwealth Games as “awesome” on Wednesday after being earlier quoted delivering a staggering slur on his Glasgow experience.
The fastest man in history was reported in The Times to have labelled the Games “a bit s***”, when speaking on Tuesday, and to have said he was “not really” having fun in Scotland.
“The Olympics were better,” Bolt was quoted as saying.
The six-time Olympic champion denied making the comments, responding on his Twitter feed by saying: “I’m waking up to this nonsense..journalist please don’t create lies to make headlines.”
The Times reporter behind the story, Katie Gibbons, stated on Twitter that the “full conversation” with Bolt would feature in Thursday’s newspaper.
As the Bolt storm engulfed the Games, with denials and statements of defence swirling behind the scenes, Bolt might have been expected to go to ground in the hope it would blow over.
Yet the 27-year-old instead headed to the women’s netball match between Jamaica and New Zealand at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, having previously promised to watch the Reggae Girlz in action.
Taking up a regular seat towards the back of the VIP section, the crowd did not appear immediately aware of his presence as he sat quietly chewing gum and clapping his team.
As Bolt made his way out of the netball hall, with media shouting questions at him regarding his opinion of the Games, he shouted “awesome” in response before security ensured a swift exit.
Commonwealth Games chiefs gave Bolt a VIP welcome to Glasgow on Saturday. For an athlete who will run only in the sprint relay to have a packed-out press conference all to himself must rank as a first.
Such is the nature of Bolt’s status in world sport, though, and his position as easily the highest-profile competitor in Glasgow, organisers will have hoped he would shine a radiant light on the Games, rather than trigger any trouble.
For Bolt to make such disparaging comments as were attributed to him could have been a crushing blow to the Games, even causing long-term damage to the brand.
But Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said he accepted Bolt’s version of events.
Hooper said: “We take Mr Bolt at his word.
“We’re very pleased with how he’s responded and that’s our position.”
Speaking at the daily media briefing, Hooper stressed the Commonwealth Games had its own identity and aims, different to the Olympic Games, and said he was “proud” of its status in the sporting world.
He said: “We’re not trying to be the Olympic Games.
“We’re about the celebration of the Commonwealth, sport and culture within the Commonwealth, and what a fantastic event we are seeing here in Glasgow.
“These Games continue to go from strength to strength.”
He stressed the Games would “evolve positively in Gold Coast in 2018” and added: “We are who we are and proud of it.”