Sport

Bolt eyes ‘special’ farewell for fans

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 19, 2017    

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While the second staging of the Jamaica National Building Society (JN) Racers Grand Prix is set to be a grand send-off for Usain Bolt, the legendary athlete is hoping to make it a “special” experience for fans at the National Stadium on June 10.

Bolt, who will retire from competition after the IAAF World Championships in London August 4-13, is eyeing a 9.7-second clocking in his final competitive race on local soil at the Grand Prix dubbed “Salute to a Legend”.

At the inaugural meet in 2016, Bolt, who stumbled out of the blocks, recovered to win in 9.88 seconds ahead of Nickel Ashmeade (9.94) and his Racers Track Club teammate Yohan Blake (9.94). Former world record holder Asafa Powell finished fourth in a time of 9.98secs.

However, after getting in a few early runs at the Nitro Athletics series in Melbourne, Australia, in February, the incomparable athlete pointed out that he is ready and raring to go based on the fluency of his training.


“Well I am feeling great based on the fact that I got a few sprints in and come back to training. I am feeling good and coach is happy with the fluency that I have, so that’s a good sign.

“We should be fine, I just want to continue progressing at a nice rate and hopefully stay injury free and it should be good,” Bolt told journalists during the Grand Prix launch at the Jamaica Pegasus last Friday.

“For me it is just to put down a really fast time, I haven’t really ran a fast time early in the season so for me to run a 9.7 would be very good and I think that would be sufficient enough to mean something good,” he added.

Though the meet is some 80-odd days away, Bolt, regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time, is already overwhelmed with mixed emotions –and understandably so, after bringing 15 years of glory, pride and joy to the global track and field arena.

“It was not an easy road as you know; if you had watched I am Bolt you would have seen that it has been a rough couple of years. I had to push really hard to get to the level that I am with the support of a lot of people; my friends, parents, management team….a lot of people that really supported me,” Bolt noted.

He continued: “I am looking forward to the Racers Grand Prix; it is my last competition on home soil which I am really excited about. I am not really an emotional person, but I know it is going to be an emotional moment to compete in the stadium where it all began for me.

“So it’s a very big moment and I hope everybody comes out and support me to give me that energy to run even faster.

“Just watching the video (highlight of career) gave me goose bumps and I am just thinking about the career overall. Hopefully Jamaica come out and support and it will be a big crowd, so it would feel more memorable when I leave the stadium.”

Bolt, 30, the triple world record holder in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay, has been instrumental in putting the Racers Track Club on the global map. But, in all his modesty he attributed his success to coach and Racers Track Club president Glen Mills.

Mills, the chief architect of the Grand Prix, also received commendation from the decorated athlete for bringing some of the world’s finest athletes to Jamaica’s shores.

“I am very happy and proud of my coach because he has built this meet; it has always been one of his dreams to have a national meet, so for me this is his dream come true and he is building. We at Racers are trying to make it bigger and better and if I can in any way help also I will.

“So thanks to coach for making this a salute event for me. To me he is a legend in my book, he is a massive reason why I am where I am today because he really stuck by me through all the hard times I put him through,” said Bolt.

Among those set to join the tribute to Bolt are Kenya’s 800m world record holder David Rudisha; Mo Farah, the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history, and South Africa’s 400m world record holder Wayde Van Neikerk.

Americans Tori Bowie, Christian Taylor, Dalilah Muhammad, Jenna Prandini and Francena McCorory and Blessings Okabare of Nigeria, as well as Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson will also grace the meet.

Jamaica’s own stars Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Warren Weir, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Javon Francis and World Sprint hurdles champion Danielle Williams will also be on show.

Bolt, in commenting on Van Neikerk, the 24-year-old sensation, who is the first individual to break 10 seconds for 100 metres, 20 seconds for 200 metres, and 44 seconds for 400 metres, believes the South African has the ability to get close to his 200m record.

“I don’t know (about records) but just knowing him, I know he is a very determined person and he trains really hard. By just hanging around him and having conversations, [him] running the 100m (record) no, but for the 200m there is a possibility that if he gets the speed up then anything is possible.” the iconic sprinter ended.

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