Tue | May 30, 2023

‘It’s tough’

• Bolt using competition experience to get through difficult time• Gibson McCook Relays patron clears air on parting with business manager

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2023 | 1:20 AMPaul-Andre Walker/Sports Editor
Patron of the Gibson McCook Relays Usain Bolt (left) receives book depicting 40 years of the event’s history from Dr Marion Bullock Ducasse, vice-chairman of the Gibson McCook Relays organising committee, during a sponsors’ luncheon for its 50th anniversary at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

THE USUAL swagger and trademark smile were missing.

Instead, Usain Bolt, the most high-profile name to have come up among a list of Stocks & Securities Ltd (SSL) clients to have allegedly been swindled in a multibillion-dollar fraud case dating back a decade, donned the look he has when crouched in the blocks.

There is strain and concentration, the look he has when it is time to get down to business.

In fact, the double world record holder said as much when asked how he was dealing with the pressure of a situation that has seen his retirement fund of just over US$12 million almost completely wiped out in the biggest financial scandal since the sector’s meltdown in the 1990s.

“For me, it’s tough enuh,” said Bolt, before going on to detail how he is handling the situation.

“But I think through the years that I’ve competed I’ve learned to understand and just focus. I’ve put the matter in my lawyer’s hands and tried to focus on my family and not to think about it too much because it’s a stressful situation,” said Bolt.

Responding to another question, Bolt sought to clear the air, regarding his relationship with former business manager, Norman Peart.

One of the early revelations from the case of suspected fraud was that Bolt and long-time business manager, Peart, had parted ways prior to the former track star learning he had been fleeced.

According to Peart, in an interview with Radio Jamaica Sports, the two had parted amicably in late 2022.

However, Bolt, after a chuckle, delivered a contrastingly stone-faced response, saying the parting of the ways was anything but.

“It’s simple. He was fired,” said Bolt, before saying he would say no more on the advice of his lawyers.

“It was not amicable. He was fired from the job,” the sprint legend reiterated.

Another suggestion going around on social media was that Bolt’s loss of investment would put the fastman in financial straits.

While admitting that the blow has not been small, the first real smile came from Bolt at hearing the suggestion he was without funds.

“No, I’m not broke,” Bolt laughed.

“But it has definitely put a damper on me. This was for my future. Everybody knows I have three kids. I’m still looking after my parents, and I still want to live very well,” he said, more seriously.

Bolt was speaking to the media at the end of a Gibson McCook Relays sponsors’ luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday where the six feet four inches tall superstar was named patron.

“We are thrilled and delighted that the alumnus par excellence, Dr The Honourable Usain Bolt, has consented to be our patron for this year’s renewal and its week of celebration, February 19-25. We also would like to thank his legendary coach, Honourable Glen Mills, his managers and agents and also his parents and extended family for producing this national treasure,” said chairman of the Gibson McCook Relays organising committee, Professor Rainford Wilks.

Bolt, the guest speaker, said that while he has been going through a tough time, that was no reason to shirk his responsibilities or duck out on his promises.

“I made a promise to Gibson Relays that I would be here and I am the person that always comes through,” he said.

“For me, it’s always a pleasure competing at Gibson Relays,” said Bolt, reminiscing on the losses he had at William Knibb High School but the many wins at Racers.

“I’ve been there since I have retired and seen the excitement and the energy that the kids put into running at Gibson Relays,” he said.

In ending, Bolt also had very powerful words about continuing to support national events like the Gibson McCook Relays saying:

“No matter what’s going on now, Jamaica is my country and that will never change. I love my country and I will always do everything in my power to uplift it.”