“I’ve al­ways just gone with the flow”

With a haul of gold medals and ac­co­lades to his name, sprinter Usain Bolt has been dubbed the Great­est Ath­lete in the World. Then, af­ter re­tir­ing last year, he shocked every­one by de­cid­ing to rein­vent him­self as a soc­cer player… based in Aus­tralia. Here,

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

You’ve run so many races. Do you re­mem­ber your first one? My first race was at an in­ter-school sports day, and there was a guy faster than me. I re­mem­ber the coach said, “All right, if you beat this guy, I’ll give you a boxed lunch.” For me grow­ing up, we didn’t have [much] so to get a boxed lunch was a big deal. I wanted it. That’s where it started. Run­ning was just fun for me be­cause I was al­ways win­ning. It was when I got to the end of high school, when I started talk­ing to my agent and my man­ager, and they started ex­plain­ing to me, “Lis­ten, this could be a ca­reer” – that’s when I re­ally started say­ing, “Oh my god, this could ac­tu­ally be good.” I thought it was just fun be­cause I was good at it. Did it ever get “not fun”? At the end! [Laughs] At the end. [Bolt re­tired in 2017.] But it was al­ways hard. When I started out, I wasn’t fo­cused. I didn’t have a goal, I didn’t have a dream of be­ing one of the great­est. All I wanted to do was help my par­ents fi­nan­cially. I was never think­ing big; I was think­ing small. The more I learnt of the sport, the more I got into it. I thought, “I want to be good at this, so I’m go­ing to hone my craft and get bet­ter.” The rest is his­tory. You were a star out­side the class­room. What about in­side the class­room? I was [in­ter­ested in] his­tory and lit­er­a­ture be­cause I was good at work­ing things out and un­der­stand­ing what the au­thor was say­ing. I hated Romeo And Juliet, though. You hated Romeo And Juliet? I couldn’t get through the book. [Af­fect­ing a whis­pery lilt] “Thou art, winds of win­ter.” I’m like, “What?” It was too much, I couldn’t get through it. I know the whole story is ro­man­tic and ev­ery­thing – that’s cool. But to read the book and to get into it… I just couldn’t. You’ve moved to Aus­tralia to kick­start your soc­cer ca­reer, and this Christ­mas will be your first here. How will you spend it? I have no idea what I’ll be do­ing… I’ll prob­a­bly do some­thing with the team or with one of the guys’ fam­i­lies. You must miss your own fam­ily – par­tic­u­larly at Christ­mas – do you speak to them of­ten? Your role with Op­tus must help when it comes to keep­ing in touch. This will be the first time, I think, I’ve been out­side of Ja­maica at Christ­mas. But my fam­ily un­der­stands that work comes first at times. I’ll call them and talk to them, be­cause when Christ­mas is over in Aus­tralia it just be­gins in Ja­maica [laughs]. What home-cooked meal of your mother Jen­nifer’s are you des­per­ately miss­ing the most right now? [Ex­ag­ger­ated sigh] My mum is not a mas­sive cooker… Are you a bet­ter cook than your mum? I can’t cook! [But] that’s why I can’t cook! Be­cause my mum will do any­thing else; she’ll clean, iron, she’s good at fix­ing stuff. She cooks be­cause she has to feed us – but she’s not re­ally a fan of cook­ing, you know what I mean? You still live per­ma­nently in Kingston, Ja­maica, and most of your fam­ily is there, too. What was your child­hood like? My child­hood was just free. I was al­ways into sports. I was play­ing foot­ball and there was cricket and run­ning; it’s just some­thing that we do. We en­joy our­selves. We would eat from fruit trees in the sum­mer. I’m from a small com­mu­nity where ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­body. All of us got along and it was just fun. I would never change any­thing from my child­hood. You’ve suf­fered sco­l­io­sis [cur­va­ture of the spine] since you were a child. How did that af­fect your run­ning and does it still af­fect you? It won’t go away. It’s one thing I have learnt that has caused a lot of in­juries through­out my ca­reer, but if I do my core work, which I’m work­ing a lot on now, and as long as I keep it in check, I’ll be fine.track and field is much more ex­plo­sive so I don’t re­ally have to worry that much about it. It’s not as dam­ag­ing in foot­ball as it would be in track. You loved cricket so much as a kid that you wanted to be a crick­eter. But your coach said track was where you should be. Do you think you’ll ever have a crack at cricket pro­fes­sion­ally? Nah. Cricket is like foot­ball – if you don’t prac­tise, you kind of lose it. I’m still OK, I un­der­stand how the game is, how to get bet­ter, what to do if I want to con­tinue.

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