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Oral Tracey | Bolt’s telling words

Published:Monday | July 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt during an RJRGLEANER interview on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

There is absolutely no debating that Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen. Bolt developed a reputation, over his glorious career, of making his spikes do the talking. It is therefore hardly surprising that since walking away from the sport in 2017, he has not spoken much, but he did come out recently with words blazing in defence of his former coach at the Racers Track Club, Glen Mills, whom he said was under unfair attack by some of his disgruntled former training mates.

Hidden beneath the emotions of his outburst were some subtle but poignant revelations about Bolt, the man and the character, that set him apart from all others in his chosen craft. It is clear that he is an avid student of his game. He expressed eagerness and a craving even for informal discussions about his sport with his then coach in his downtime, compared to the his stablemates, whom he described as resistant to informal lecture sessions when they were away from the training ground.

The notion that Bolt was lazy and had an unprofessional attitude to training was uniquely contextualised by his overt disgust and amazement that some of his colleagues took off in the middle of the season for an impromptu one-week vacation in Miami. Implicit in his subtle condemnation of these actions is that as lazy as he, Bolt, was said to have been, these guys were not as serious about their careers as he was.


It is evident that Bolt internalised his sprinting to great effect. It seems a plausible explanation of why he was so skilled in handling high-pressure situations. His expressions got even more profound when he pointed to the worrying trend of promising young Jamaican stars, at 18 and 19 years old, gaining multimillion-­dollar equipment-sponsorship deals while still emerging in their careers and its detrimental effect on their development. This is an issue that has been dominating debates and baffling many expert analysts in the field. Yet Bolt so aptly summed up the situation by declaring these youngsters not focused, motivated, or hungry enough to put in the necessary work to become as great as he was.

Another key affirmation from Bolt came in his acknowledgement of the fact that so many of the top star athletes emerging from the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships were physically damaged and in need of almost total reconstruction to make a credible attempt at that elusive transition from junior stars to senior functionaries.

Bolt even went down the controversial road of the Danielle Williams disqualification at the National Championships, and, like with every other subtopic in his rant, he displayed a solid grasp and situational understanding of a nuanced reality of the sport, ­opining that better sense should have prevailed in the case of Williams if the priority was getting Jamaica’s best athletes to represent the country at the upcoming IAAF World Championships.

Bolt, even in his heyday, was never a man who rocked the boat with his utterances, but from this recent rant, which was punctuated with subtle and not-so-subtle insight, it was quite discernible that it was no fluke that he conquered his sport and conquered the world. He fully understood his sport and what was required to be the greatest. He remains the only person in the world to bring that unique perspective. Now that he is retired, and based on the ­profoundness of his recent utterances, I think Bolt should speak more frequently on matters of track and field, and when he speaks, Jamaica should listen keenly.