BEIJING - Crowd-pleaser David Beckham applauded Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt on Saturday for his showmanship in smashing three world records.
"He`s so talented. It`s great, if you`re that good," the English footballer and flagbearer for London`s 2012 Olympics said of Bolt`s exploits, including a 100 metre victory when he slowed down to thump his chest in celebration before finishing.
Jamaica`s Usain Bolt (L) celebrates next to teammate Asafa Powell after they won the men`s 4*100m Relay final at the National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 22, 2008. [Agencies]
"If you`ve got the confidence he`s got ... it`s right. It`s such a big stage, the whole world`s watching you. So if at the end of the day you can perform like many people have performed over here, and especially him, you can gloat, it`s good to see."
The comments by Beckham were the latest backing for Bolt after International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge accused him of lacking respect for other athletes.
The former England soccer national captain, who has also faced criticism for his image-conscious style, flew into China to feature in a special segment of Sunday`s closing ceremony in Beijing where there will be a symbolic handover to London.
Beckham, who played a key role in London`s winning Olympics bid, will kick a ball into the crowd at the Bird`s Nest stadium from a red double-decker bus.
Watching the sun go down from a hotel balcony overlooking
Tiananmen Square, he was full of praise for the Beijing Olympics and promised the English version would be successful too.
"Obviously, I think that China can be very proud of what they`ve done for these Games. We have seen what the Chinese have done, and I`m sure we`ll better them, without a doubt."
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder, now playing for LA Galaxy, will be joined during London`s eight-minute slot in the Games finale by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Leona Lewis.
"Obviously being an East End boy, I`m very proud that I was involved in it in the first place, bringing it back to England, and regenerating so much interest," Beckham said.
"Because of the success of this Games so far, not just obviously Great Britain but the success of the actual Games ... it`s sort of hyping 2012 up which is going to be great."
Britain have their best gold medal haul in a century.
Beckham said he was delighted for the Chinese that all the pre-Games attention on politics quickly dissipated.
"There was obviously a lot of negativity leading up to the competition. But everyone knew that once the Games actually started, that would disappear and the success of the teams and the athletes would take over," he said.
"Politically, I`m not even going to comment on that. But at the end of the day, it`s such a special people. Chinese people deserve a great event and they`ve had that."
Singer Lewis, also from the east of London where the Games will be based, said the Olympics should help poor areas of the capital.
"I`m just so proud that it`s coming to London and I can`t wait for it to regenerate the area for people to get more opportunities that they need," she said.