Thanks a million!

Bolt, Puma team up in support of Special Olympics Jamaica

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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SPRINT legend Usain Bolt has put his money where his mouth is. And he wants others to follow suit.

After the Usain Bolt Foundation yesterday committed $1 million toward Jamaica's participation at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates in March, he is encouraging other sporting figures and corporate Jamaica to lend support.

Speaking at the Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) offices at Independence Park, Bolt, 32, also announced that at his request, sports goods company Puma, which has a long-standing endorsement deal with the retired Olympian, has agreed to outfit the Jamaica team at the Games.

“I always try my best to play my part because I know how hard it is to not have it. When we got the request to give back to Special Olympics Jamaica it was an easy decision for the foundation to make,” Bolt said during his short speech.

“I urge the private sector to also come on board and give what you can because it something good — for special needs.

“We know as athletes what we go through, especially coming up — not having [running] spikes and the struggles we have to go through. I urge all athletes who can give back to give back, they really need it, and it's [for] Special Olympics so it's a big thing,” Bolt told reporters during an interview after the press conference.

“Me and Puma are like family…when we found out they didn't have any sponsor I was kind of shocked. We called Puma and they said 'not a problem', so they're sending the gear and shoes and spikes and everything so they can look like a proper Jamaica team,” the Jamaican icon continued.

Bolt's manager and friend Nugent Walker did not disclose the value of the Puma deal, but he told the Jamaica Observer that the SOJ entire contingent will be fully outfitted.

SOJ is set to send a 98-member delegation to the Games, which will include 73 athletes, 22 coaches, two officials and one medical staff.

Special Olympics is a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition, in a variety of Olympic-type sports, for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The Jamaicans are set to compete in athletics, bocce, skating, swimming, unified badminton, unified basketball, unified football (men's and women's teams), and unified volleyball (men's and women's teams) at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Games.

The Jamaican team raked in 29 medals at the 2015 Summer Games in Los Angeles, United States. They were also a huge hit at respective Winter Games in South Korea in 2013 and in Austria in 2017.

Bolt has long been a supporter of the Special Olympics movement. As a youth phenom, he was guest speaker at the 2005 SOJ National Games.

Back in March 2015, as a global mega star, Bolt and former NBA star Rick Fox were special guest attendants at the opening of the SOJ multi-purpose court.

Bolt, widely regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time, called time on his athletic career at the end of the IAAF World Championships in 2017. He holds the world record in both the 100m (9.58 seconds) and 200m (19.19 seconds). The Trelawny native is an eight-time Olympic Games champion, and winner of 11 World Championships gold medals.

True to his relaxed and easygoing persona, he encouraged athletes to revel in the opportunity at making the country and their families proud while doing justice to their talent.

“To the athletes… enjoy the experience. I'm sure Abu Dhabi is going to be amazing… I know you guys are going to go there and do the best you can do. Just go out there and make yourself proud and make Jamaica proud;just enjoy it. I enjoyed competing when I did and I know you guys will enjoy it too,” Bolt said.

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