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Roger Federer and Usain Bolt Emerge as Choice of the Champions

Vishwanathan Anand, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Johnson and Lothar Matthaeus are all champions in their respective fields and it made for some riveting listening when all four of them felt that Roger Federer and Usain Bolt are two athletes who inspire them.

Arjit Dabas | News18 Sports

Updated:November 6, 2017, 12:31 PM IST
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Roger Federer and Usain Bolt Emerge as Choice of the Champions
Vishwanathan Anand, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Johnson and Lothar Matthaeus are all champions in their respective fields and it made for some riveting listening when all four of them felt that Roger Federer and Usain Bolt are two athletes who inspire them.
New Delhi: Vishwanathan Anand, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Johnson and Lothar Matthaeus are all champions in their respective fields and it made for some riveting listening when all four of them came together for an event in the Capital.

Their choice for athletes beyond their own sport, who inspire them, was indeed intriguing but at the same time all these elite athletes reached a consensus, and two of the greatest of this generation — Roger Federer and Usain Bolt — were the names that came out on top.

Both these athletes have ruled their respective fields for years and in fact there are many others who are at the top of their respective sport, but these two were the names everyone agreed upon as being the greatest.

"Usain Bolt personified perfection throughout his career. Three different Olympic gold medals in 100m and 200m, it is difficult to do it once, but to repeat it twice is just incredible," said Johnson, the former American sprinter who held the 400m world record for 17-years and won four Olympic Gold medals himself.

Olympics is indeed the pinnacle of sport, the event comes once in four years and you need to be at your peak at the right time. Inches can sometime be the difference between elation and disappointment. Bolt, however has been completely dominant in all his medal winning Olympic performances.

In fact, after his 100m victory in 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Bolt said: "I was slowing down long before the finish and wasn't tired at all. I could have gone back to the start and done it all over again."

Usain Bolt's thoughts on his 100m sprint at the 2008 Olympics, published in his autobiography Usain Bolt 9.58.

Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist too made the same argument regarding Bolt: "To be able to do what he did thrice, is simply remarkable."

Roger Federer makes for an even more intriguing case, the past year has seen kind of a second renaissance for the Swiss — winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon — after coming back from a career threatening knee injury.

"Roger Federer for me, I would have said it last year but this year it has become even more easier for me to say so," Anand, who has been a chess World Champion, remarked on the legend.

Federer's case is even more remarkable, considering how tennis is seen as a physical sport, yet the 36-year-old brings a certain calm and plays with effortless style and grace.

The fact that he has been able to come back from such a serious injury and return in such remarkable fashion, when even the most ardent of Federer fans had given up hope of seeing him lift another grand slam, shows the kind of hunger he possesses.

Johnson makes an important point about hunger and motivation for athletes. "Once it becomes difficult to motivate, then your training suffers and you don't work as hard as you want to, you become susceptible to defeat," the American said, giving insight into an athlete's mind.

Another name that cropped up during the discussion was that of Lewis Hamilton, the champion Formula 1 driver who sealed his fourth drivers Championship in 2017.

Matthaeus, hailing from Germany and an ardent follower of F1 was the one who threw Hamilton's name in the mix, but Johnson was quick with his rebuttal, saying that though Hamilton is a great driver, but the car he drives has a big role to play in his success.

Mercedes remains the top F1 team by some distance and they have won the last 4 constructors championship.

What About Messi, Ronaldo?

While names such as Federer, Bolt, Hamilton are no doubt champions and ambassadors of perfection in their respective fields, two names who were excluded from the list and their exclusion come as a big surprise are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

They remain on the top of the ladder and their remarkable consistency, season after season, has seen them win the last 9 FIFA Awards for the Best Player in the World but the pinnacle of the sport — the FIFA World Cup remains missing from their trophy cabinet.

One key reason for this might well be that football remains a team game and a no matter how good you are as an individual, you need 10 other players to succeed.

Meanwhile, athletics and tennis remain sport where an individual has more control over the outcome and is not as depended on the team.

"In World Cup you need a good team, little things make a lot of difference. More than individuals, you need a team to win the World Cup. Germany, if you see, might not have superstars like Messi or Ronaldo but they always have a superior team," Matthaeus, who was captain of the 1990 World Cup winning Germany team, opined.

The case for sporting greatness is more often than not debatable but if they was to be a criteria for what makes one great and what doesn't, then respect of fellow champion athletes will certainly be one of the more important criteria.

Federer and Bolt have certainly managed to tick that box and emerge as champion of champions!

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| Edited by: Baidurjo Bhose
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