Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Oral Tracey: Usain Bolt should pay me (lol)

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Bolt

When Usain Bolt accused me of calling him a 'sell-out' who 'sold out' to Justin Gatlin in that infamous 200 metres final at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki I reacted with dismay, knowing that I had never, called, and would never call Bolt a sell-out.

For the record, I want to here and now categorically deny calling Bolt a sell-out.

Desperate attempts are still being made to find the relevant commentary aired on August 11, 2005, the day of that fateful race, to verify that what I did say was that Bolt's decision to jog the last 70 or 80 metres of that race was an act of cowardice, and he should have stopped if he was injured instead of walking to the line.

I maintain to this day that it was a reasonable criticism of Bolt's performance on that particular occasion, an opinion that many Jamaicans somehow equate with writing off the then emerging sprinter.

There is, however, a fundamental difference between writing off an athlete and being critical of a specific performance by that athlete.

Absolutely no one is beyond criticism, which in and of itself when merited is not necessarily a bad thing. It is how the individual responds to criticism that determines the effect of that criticism.

I remember being confronted personally by Bolt about the particular incident in question. I remember telling him that my critique of him was not meant to tear him down, but

to make him a better and stronger athlete and that those harsh words seemed to have done him well.

 

PIVOTAL ROLE

In all fairness, some unique and significant credit should be given for the pivotal role I played in the success story of Bolt. The mere fact that those stinging words resonated with him through the ebbs and flows of his now mega successful career suggests that those words helped to motivate, if not inspire, the now greatest sprinter of all time to the lofty heights he has attained.

Criticism tends to spark the fire of excellence, and Bolt has risen above many challenges, including some moments worthy of criticism, to be now blazing a furnace of excellence. Even his exploits at last year's World Championships in Beijing when the odds were stacked against him because of poor form and injuries, with the debate raging as to whether he would be able to overcome the challenge of a then marauding Gatlin, Bolt must have been well aware that in my capacity as his 'main motivator', I was early and emphatic in my prediction that he would lose to Gatlin in that 100-metre final.

It is also reasonable to assume that Bolt, and the innate champion in him, must have drawn some motivation from that swirling sentiment, which helped him to put in that extra work needed to overcome the odds and prove the critics wrong in the emphatic way he did.

During the last decade spanning the 2005 World Championships, through the thick and thin and ups and downs up to the 2015 Beijing World Championships, I genuinely believe that my motivational role in the building of Bolt the athlete and Bolt the brand has been immeasurable.

In my retort to Bolt's recent accusations, I suggested publicly that I was preparing an invoice to be delivered for my services. The big man subsequently responded on Twitter that he was looking forward to receiving that invoice. The tabulation continues, and the invoice will be delivered as I look forward to the day when l will be finally and adequately compensated.