Aug 06, 2012 at 06:25pm IST

Longevity will shape Bolt's legend: Lewis

New Delhi: Two-time Olympic 100m champion Carl Lewis believes Usain Bolt's true legend will only be determined if he keeps on being the best in the world. In what was billed as the greatest 100m race ever, on Monday Bolt pulled away from countryman and training partner Yohan Blake and American Justin Gatlin with a final few powerful strides, crossing the finish line in 9.63 seconds — an Olympic record.

Lewis, who won 10 Olympic medals including nine gold, praised Bolt's performance at the 2012 London Olympics but said that the Jamaican’s legacy would only be enhance if he continued to excel at the highest level. "He was an Olympic champion last night. He repeats and he's tremendous and he's the second person to do it and congratulations," he told CNN-IBN. Last night was an amazing race. I mean everyone is running fast now so it’s kind of hard to extrapolate in between, but yeah it was a tremendous race as we saw.

"The thing for me, what I really admire about anyone, is longevity. We still have to have the longevity and dominance through the era because for me performance-wise, you really have to put longevity in," said Lewis. "I'm really not trying to take anything away from his [Bolt's] performance because it was tremendous, but you've got to see the consistency over a period of time because as of now it's just a four-year period and you really have to see a continuous dominance. We'll see.

Longevity will shape Bolt's legend: Lewis

The two-time Olympic 100m champion Lewis believes Usain Bolt's true legend will only be determined if he keeps on being the best in the world.

"You know, time and history defines it. We can't define it when we're in it. You have to be able to look back on it. And that's the great thing about Jesse Owens; because here we are 76 years later and we're still talking about Jesse Owens."

Lewis, who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, shed light on the 100m race as well as Bolt's technique with the precision of a champion. "The reality is everyone talks about who's first and last off the blocks but the reality is that the 100m is a tactical race. It's a race. It's not a dry race or a rough race – its one race," he said. "In a 100m race the average person can only run 10m full speed. Therefore you're slowing down 90 per cent of the race, not speeding up.

"So therefore at the end after about 60 or 70m everyone is slowing down so its who slows down the least is who moves away in the end. And what Usain is doing is he's slowing down less than the other athletes so it isn't a matter of coming out slow and catching people it is a matter of running his own race and the other people fading back to him.

"Every single person in the 100m is slowing down at the end of the race and every race that I ran, every race that Usain runs, every race every single 100m man runs, they are slowing down at the end. The matter is who is slowing down the least. I've always seen people on the television and it just makes me cringe because they just don't really know what the truth is. That's the truth," said Lewis.