- Former Olympic champion tips Canadian sprinter to succeed Usain Bolt
- Linford Christie won 100m gold at Barcelona Olympics in 1992
(CNN)How do you replace the irreplaceable?
Ever since Usain Bolt nonchalantly galloped to 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at Beijing 2008, he has been untouchable -- barring injury -- at the top of world sprinting.
The one blot on his near-perfect record came after a false start at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu.
As the 30-year-old heads towards the exit -- Bolt says he will retire in 2017 -- athletics' lingering concern now lies in finding a new hero -- somebody to fill the Jamaican's size 13 spikes.
One former Olympic 100m champion thinks he knows the man.
"Judging from Rio, I think Andre De Grasse," Linford Christie, who won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games, told CNN.
"He was third in the 100m and second in the 200m — he's my tip. He's young, and if he keeps doing what he's doing then hopefully he'll improve."
The 21-year-old Canadian set personal bests in both sprints (9.91 seconds in the 100m and 19.80 seconds in the 200m) in Rio and famously joked with Bolt when they crossed the line together in the 200m semifinals.
"It was a great experience," De Grasse said when he arrived back on Canadian soil, Wednesday.
"I got to race against him on the biggest world stage."
While crowds may lament Bolt's impending departure, Christie believes it will give sprinting a new lease of life.
"I think some of the sprinters are rubbing their hands together," the 56-year-old said.
"Sometimes when you get a guy like Usain Bolt, or anyone that's been dominant as much as he has, then it does stagnate the guys behind because they start thinking 'what can we do to beat him?' And when you can't beat him, then they settle for second place."
'Better than Bolt'
Christie, who still holds the British 100m record with a time of 9.87 seconds, believes that Bolt's world records will also be challenged.
"Once Bolt retires then you'll see sprinting move on again because any one of eight people can win and that's how it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
"But Bolt, he killed that and of course no one can beat him and the youngsters will now realize they've got a chance -- it's all about trying to see who will be the next number one.
"I hope we see someone like him in our lifetime again -- it means the sport has progressed and that kids don't want to be like Usain Bolt, they want to be better than -- that's the aim for the next generation."