Media coverage of sport, as we all know, can sometimes head in directions few expected.

And a Usain Bolt v Kylian Mbappe war of words was as unpredictable as it comes.

This week, the conversation that followed PSG’s victory over Real Sociedad in the last-16 of the Champions League was predicted by no one.

In their second-leg victory over the Spaniards, Mbappe was the star, scoring both of PSG’s goals in a 2-1 victory.

Yet in the aftermath of that win, Mbappe found himself being trolled by none other than Bolt.

The Herald: Kylian Mbappe

The Jamaican is, of course, the fastest man to have ever lived.

Eight Olympic gold medals, 11 world titles and a 100m world record set in 2009 that still stands today.

And, somehow, we ended up in a situation where Bolt was drawn into ridiculing Mbappe’s speed, or lack of it.

The evening of PSG’s victory, BBC Sport, amongst others, posted on social media that Mbappe “clocked an estimated speed of 10.9 seconds over 100m”.

“That's just over a second slower than Usain Bolt's world record,” the post went on to say.

Cue the responses mercilessly tearing into the Frenchman’s pace.

It was quickly pointed out by “helpful” bystanders that in running at that speed, Mbappe would be well behind Bolt in a 100m race. Over 10m behind, in fact.

Even mere club runners can run 10.9 seconds for the 100m, the social media commentary went on to say.

And Bolt himself weighed in on the Frenchman’s time, saying “I was laughing when I saw it. The girls are running faster than that.”

The Herald: Usain Bolt

Bolt is correct, the fastest women in the world are running faster than Mbappe. 

So too, were 5000 men in the world last year alone.

But this is entirely missing the point.

Of course Bolt is faster than Mbappe.

Bolt spent literally decades of his life striving for the perfect 100m race.

Every single thing in training, and most of what he did in the rest of his life too, was focussed solely on being fast.

The result being, he was fast.

Mbappe is not a runner. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that he’s not quite as fast as the greatest sprinter of all time.

Bolt, in particular though, should know the dangers of slagging someone off for being anything less than world class.

Upon retiring from athletics in 2017, the Jamaican, at the age of 30, decided to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer and, specifically, playing for Manchester United.

He had trials with a number of professional teams, including with Borussia Dortmund in 2018, but the offers of contracts were few and far between.

Ultimately, Bolt signed with Central Coast Mariners in Australia’s A-League and the early signs were promising, with the former sprinter scoring twice on his debut.

It was all downhill from there, however, with Bolt leaving the club after just eight weeks, declaring that his sporting career was over.

The thing is, this abject failure to become a professional footballer is absolutely no slight on Bolt.

The number of individuals who aspire to be professional athletes is huge. In every sport, but particularly global sports like football and athletics, there are literally millions of people who dream of making it to the top.

Yet the percentage who actually make it is not just small, it’s miniscule.

Everyone knows someone who says they could have become an athlete if only some stroke of bad luck hadn’t befallen them.

But that’s exactly the point, thinking you could have made it and actually making it are two entirely different things.

Mbappe is not claiming to be a sprinter.

In fact, he’s become embroiled in this furore over whether he’s a fast sprinter or not entirely accidentally. His only crime, it seems, is to have run quite fast chasing after a football.

So this comparison by those with athletics between a fast footballer, who spends only a fraction of his training time on his pure speed, and a sprinter who spent almost his entire life dedicated to running the fastest 100m possible, is entirely pointless.

This snobbery from so many within track and field, which is a sport that has haemorrhaged fans and is desperate for new eyeballs, should be welcoming the connection with one of the best footballers in the world rather than, as the global governing body, World Athletics, did on X and call Mbappe’s time “cute”. 

Bolt is fast, of course he is. So too are thousands of other men and women.

But in so many ways, Mbappe’s speed over 100m is far, far more impressive than their quicker times.

The Frenchman, remember, has so much more in his armoury than pure speed.

Bolt’s foray into the footballing world proved that he has speed and little else. His short stint in the game suggested he would have been well outside of the world’s top 10,000 footballers, never mind the top 5000 as Mbappe is in sprinting terms.

But that’s fine.

It’s ok to be very good at one sport, be it football or track and field and only ok, or even rubbish, at everything else.

In my case, I made it to the Olympics for badminton. I’m entirely relaxed about the fact that I wouldn’t get within touching distance of even an under-16 swimming or cycling or judo team.

Why then, is there this constant need to compare and contrast what are evidently two world-class athletes?

Bolt, a runner, is better at running and Mbappe, a footballer, is better at football.

It’s as simple as that so let’s leave it there, shall we?