Here’s an open letter to Mr. Bolt:
I just wanted to go on record at this time with my real feelings about you. I am puzzled at your own reticence in styling yourself a living legend…and as for Mr. Rogge’s insistence that you are a mere icon and not a legend…Ha! He is simply in awe of your natural talent and is fearful that you could smother it with youthful vanity (remember his issues with your chest thumping in Beijing?) and he needs you to continue your legendary performances which are the main attraction at this year’s Games. He really needs you to fill stadia in the next Games.
Listen, Usain: you became a legend in my eyes when you smashed the WR in both the 100 and the 200m. And it is not just the fact that you did it, but it is how you do what you do! I am ashamed to admit that I had to ask who came third in the recent 1,2,3 Men’s 200m sweep in London 2012. You see, my eyes were on you and you alone from the beginning of the race to the end. That’s how it always is, Sir. I think I literally stop breathing every single time I see you run a corner. It starts with you slowly uncurling your totally unsuitable sprinting frame (yeah right!) in such an ungainly manner from the blocks, so infuriatingly slowly and then…you become like this massive anti-gravity Transformer who just defies the laws of inertia on the turn and then you simply expand into an even more massive unbeatable machine for the last 40 or so meters of your race. Such power, such long strides and such speed!
Yes, Asafa Powell started this whole sub 10 attack on the 100m. But I don’t watch the races because of Asafa. I don’t dream about what he will do next. You see, for me, I have to insist that it is not just about the speed. Again, it is how you do it that sets you far apart from men who you beat by mere seconds. Your antics before and after your race speak to a facet of your own personality that I find absolutely charming. You are a fun-loving person! And since one of my own personal mantras is: “I eschew unhappiness and unhappy people”, I am totally charmed by your joie de vivre. It’s natural, it’s infectious and it reminds us that it is possible to achieve fantastic outcomes without looking like or behaving like the destiny of the universe rests on what I am about to do here and now.
Don’t think I don’t see you acknowledging the young people who are tasked with carting your basket of gear off the track before the race starts. Nobody taught you to do that! Don’t think I’ve forgotten how you prodded Asafa to certain victory in that 4 x100m relay. Don’t think we don’t realize how you’ve deliberately and genuinely motivated young Blake and Weir. You whispered something to Weir at the start of the now historic Mens 200m in London 2012, didn’t you, when you saw this awesome young man buckling at bit before the start of the race. He ended up with a bronze medal from an awesome field of runners… It is not lost on me, Usain how you have the press eating out of hands. You actually stop and talk to them and you recently took away a camera and literally turned the tables on them. Did somebody suggest to you that this would be a charming gesture, sure to endear you more to the press and your adoring public? Methinks NOT. You see, Usain St. Leo Bolt…you are a Natural. My children are sick of me saying: “Bolt is such a Superstar.” It’s how you do what you do. You win races in outstanding fashion, you frustrate top athletes who run out their heart strings to beat you only to be relegated to 3rd and 5th and 6thwith tears in the eyes and a mixture of despondency and awe in their hearts. You charm children and princes. You quietly help people…I recall your donations to the earthquake stricken people of China and your quiet donation to Sam Albert to help her finance her own Olympic journey.
And I think it is because your success has not been handed to you on platter, that I am in even more awe of you. I love Glen Mills for taking you and working with you when you just did not know how to deal with your twisted spine and resultant repeated hamstring injuries. Without that early intervention, there would be no Usain Bolt, Superstar. You accepted the guidance and the rest, as they say, is history.
I love it that you train right here on the rock.
I love it that you make no secret of the fact that winning is what you do. You are competitive in a manner not seen in many athletes.
I love it that you live your own life.
I love it that you have made and will make so much money.
Yes, when Blake beat you at the National trials some weeks ago, I was worried. I really was. I wanted to see more of your utterly disrespectful victories! It wasn’t until I saw you in the 100m semis in London that I truly relaxed and hugged my family and shouted: “HE’S BACK! HE’S GOT THIS!!!!!!”
I’m going to share my personal fantasy where you are concerned: (hushed tones) I get goose bumps when I think about you running the 400m flats. Usain! You and the 400m…picture it…feel it….see it! My other country man, Kirani James (I’m Grenadian too you know) is a formidable athlete too, but there’s enough room for both of you. Yes, yes, yes…I know training for what I consider to be the Ultimate Sprint is horribly hard and I know you would rather party. But here’s the thing: I am hoping that you will soon, naturally, temper your partying and just decide to mash down the 400m. Note I did not say “stop your partying”.
Juliet Cuthbert recently made the point that many athletes go the college route and we college grads all know what it means to put the P in Party. You opted not to go the college route, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to place the P, now does it! All I ask is that you remember MODERATION. Take care of yourself. Protect your body, Usain. Asafa seems to be a better motor car driver than you. Let him do the driving. Hahahaha! Hold your family close. Our families have the knack of keeping us grounded. Guard your mind and heart and keep moving forward.
Good luck to you and the team in the relay finals later today. I feel that something great is afoot. I’ll be going with my daughter to Half Way Tree to watch the race with the thousands of others that will bring traffic to a standstill this afternoon.
Oh! We will both celebrate birthdays on August 21 week after next. Happy Birthday when it comes! I expect to be living it up with my family and Mickey Mouse.
With a full and grateful heart , I remain one of your millions of fans across the globe.