Usain Bolt: Mission accomplished
Usain Bolt: Mission accomplished
Usain Bolt is a medal-collecting, record-breaking, money-making machine, and a one-man brand who represents the best his country, Jamaica, has to offer. Now his meteoric rise to the top has been immortalized in I Am Bolt, a documentary that has been released ahead of his retirement next year. “It’s getting harder all the time. I’m tired. People look at me and say, ‘Oh, it’s so easy what he does!’ And I’m like, ‘It’s not! It’s hard!’” Usain Bolt gestures wildly to indicate the amount of energy required to become one of the world’s most successful and charismatic athletes.
Since the age of 10, when his cricket coach advised him to try the track, Usain Bolt hasn’t stopped running. Now, as he moves into his thirties, he is preparing to withdraw from a sport that has turned him into a legend. From 2008, he has dominated the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, and the 4 x 100 meter relay, breaking world records, both in the Olympic Games – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 – and at the World Championships – Berlin 2009, Daegu 2011, Moscow 2013 and Beijing 2015. Of the 21 gold medals that could have been his, Bolt has taken home 20. His only hiccup was the 100 meters in Daegu, Korea, where a false start saw him eliminated from the final.
“I remember I did an interview with Michael Johnson,” says Bolt, “and I said to him why did you retire? And he said to me, ‘I’ve done everything I could in sport so what else could I do? What’s the point?’ And that’s a valid argument. I’ve already achieved my goal. I wanted to be an Olympic champion, so I already got it.”
In London at the end of November for the premiere of I Am Bolt, the 6ft-4in athlete has the unmistakable air of someone on his way out. When he first enters the hotel room, where journalists from all over the world are lining up to see him, he smiles and says hello and takes a photo of his first interviewer with his cell phone. “I like to keep a record of the people I talk to,” he explains.
The new documentary about Bolt’s life was filmed as he trained for the Rio Olympics and examines not only his schedule, but also the man behind the machine, including his professional and personal relationships. Here we are shown the Bolt who finds it hard to get up early and start training. “It’s not as fun as it used to be,” he admits. “The older I get, the less fun it is because you have to sacrifice a lot more. You can’t party as much. I hate doing something I don’t enjoy. I just want to have two days where I don’t have to train, go to bed really late, chill out, be me, feel human.”
But the documentary also shows Bolt preparing for the race, pushing his body to the limit and listening to his trainer Glen Mills, his manager Nugent NJ Walker, his agent Ricky Simms and his masseur Everald Eddie Edwards – his entourage. “Come on, Usain, you have to push yourself,” says Simms in the run up to Rio. “Just three months and after that you can do what you want with your life.”
In Rio, Bolt became the first man ever to have won the Olympic triple – 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m three times. “I want to be remembered as one of the greatest athletes ever in sport, like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan or Pelé. But I also want to be remembered as a laidback, chilled, fun-loving person who inspires others,” says Bolt when asked what legacy he expects to leave the world.
The Jamaican giant will compete for the last time in the World Championships in Athletics in London next August. “There’s a lot of talk over whether I want to retire before someone beats me,” says Usain. “If I worked hard, I’d probably be able to compete at the top level for another two years.”
“This year, my idea is to run for my fans,” Bolt adds. But it’s also about the money. Bolt will, for example, earn $1 million for competing in the three-meet Nitro Athletics exhibition series in Australia next February. Featured at number 32 on the Forbes World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list, he is the top-earning track athlete with an income of $32.5 million. Compared to other sports, such as football, basketball, tennis or golf, track and field is relatively poorly paid. Most of Bolt’s money comes from sponsorships –$30 million in 2016, a third of which was from sportswear company Puma. “I want money to make sure I can do what I want but I am not focused on it,” he says. “Nor on the fame. I think my parents would be really disappointed if I changed or became an idiot.”