Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | Bolt's perfect farewell

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Usain St Leo Bolt has never failed to be a prime time focus of attention. Call him superstar, superman, super hero or just simply a legend, his athletic achievements, awesome presence and antics, to boot, to which the less gifted can only aspire, have attracted the cameras and microphones of the world. The accrued exposure attached to the excitement and ecstasy within his adoring fanbase has catapulted his image far beyond the global sporting cohort. This product of a Christian background, maintained by caring parents, Wellesley and Jennifer, rigid in discipline and decency, has assumed an image that can aptly be described as "larger than life."

There is a highly predictable result to all this adulation and acclaim. The only 'triple trebler' in sprinting competition at the prestigious Olympic Games, has his every move tracked with precision. The nature of this mirrors the inner workings of the Hublot watch brand, for which, alongside fellow sporting greats, Pele, Kobe Bryant and JosÈ Mourinho, he has been appointed an ambassador. Even his private life (can someone of his stature have such a thing?) has been placed under intense, intrusive and intimately-revealing post Rio scrutiny.

 

When to quit

 

With all these front page issues surrounding the life of the previously secluded country lad, that of when to call time on his illustrious career, could not escape. That crucial decision for a top-of-the-line athlete, was always going to take centre stage at some point. There is a culture endemic to the country's track and field and sport in general. Call it unacceptable, for lack of a harsher word. It suggests that "time to go" decisions are to be made by other than the individual in question.

Foster's Fairplay is of the firm view that packing it all in, should reside in the province of the athlete along with his or her handlers. Too often, it comes and in many cases, distastefully so, from administrators and others looking on. Few around at the time can forget the case with the outstanding and most successful at the time, Olympic sprinter, Donald Quarrie. Coincidentally, with Hurricane Matthew heading in Jamaica's direction, although prayers for a reprieve are ongoing, it was Gilbert time, approaching the Seoul Olympics in 1988, when DQ, as he was affectionately known, was denied a sixth Olympic moment. The Montreal 1976 100m/200m silver and gold medallist, respectively, had achieved the qualifying mark and placed second in the longer distance, at the trials, but was forced to return to his Los Angeles, California residence without the joy and splendour of hitting that career-ending six.

 

London goodbye

 

It is now Bolt's time to drop the departure bomb. Once again, he is handling the limelight, in consonance with the showman image that he has adopted. In dramatic style, he is carefully selecting his exit date. The seemingly favourite option is the 2017 London World Championships, where the Jamaican backdrop will be huge - a most fitting stage to say goodbye. One senses that the world's most elite does not envisage any threat to his supremacy, although there is the suggestion that only one sprint would be attempted. Although not specified, this might very well be the half-lap race. This so, as there is a lingering career dream, still not fulfilled - the prospect of putting the 200m world record to rest, with a mind-boggling 18 point. To even contemplate that feat is scary for lesser mortals. A famous quote from the sports aficionados when fantastic times from the big man in upcoming events are discussed, sometimes trashed by the non-believers, is "Remember, this is Bolt."

There is even talk of taking some time away from the sport, recharge his batteries, rebore his cylinders, and return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A recent quote attributed to him while going through a particularly rigorous gym routine in his Rio preparations, is instructive. "Why am I doing this?" That self-uttered thought alone should snuff out any flicker of taking on the best in the world in another four years, while on the doorstep of age 34.

Leaving the sport, which his presence has graced with a splendidly enhanced and redecorated image, must be solely the prerogative of Usain Bolt. With no qualification to so rule, Foster's Fairplay suggests: Let London 2017 be the grand farewell.

Thank you, Usain.

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