“I’ve al­ways wanted to live in Aus­tralia. It’s sim­i­lar to Ja­maica”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - Usain Bolt is the mo­bile net­work am­bas­sador for Op­tus.

Your re­tire­ment from ath­let­ics has been at­trib­uted to ham­string in­juries and a lack of mo­ti­va­tion. Look­ing back on the de­ci­sion, do you still stand by it? Yeah, def­i­nitely. I’ve had spon­sors of­fer­ing me money to go back, but money never mo­ti­vated me to want to go to the Olympics. I had a dream to be one of the great­est sprint­ers or be among the great­est sports­men of the world. So if I worked to­wards my dream and I was suc­cess­ful, the money would come. But to­wards the end, I didn’t en­joy it like I did when I was start­ing out and win­ning my first gold and sec­ond gold. I knew that if I had to do [the Olympics] for a fourth time, I wouldn’t have got there be­cause I would wake up in the morn­ing and de­cide I didn’t want to go to train­ing. There were times at the end where I’d ask my­self, when I’m ly­ing on the ground dy­ing, like, “Why am I still do­ing this?” When I started ques­tion­ing my­self like that, I knew, “This is it. I need to stop.” Orig­i­nally I wanted to stop af­ter the [2016 Rio de Janeiro] Olympics, but fans pres­sured me a lit­tle bit [to con­tinue on to the 2017 Lon­don World Cham­pi­onships]. I thought, “Let me try to do it for one more sea­son.” It ended not so good [Bolt won a bronze medal], but I did it for the fans be­cause with­out them it wouldn’t be the same for me. You’ve given those fans an­other op­por­tu­nity to cheer you on in your new ca­reer as a soc­cer player for the Cen­tral Coast Mariners in the A-league. It’s some­thing I’ve al­ways wanted to do. I said to my­self, “If I can get the op­por­tu­nity to do it, then do it.” Be­cause for me that’s a chal­lenge – and when I get a chal­lenge, it re-en­er­gises me. I don’t know where I’m go­ing to go so I re­ally can’t set a goal for my­self un­til this first year [is over]. Af­ter this first year I can say, “I feel I can do bet­ter if I can train harder or work more on my skills.” Or I can say, “This is not go­ing to work.” [Laughs] This sea­son is just a test, fail or pass. I’m just here to do my best, to learn as much as pos­si­ble and try to im­prove as quickly as pos­si­ble to get to a level. It’s my per­sonal chal­lenge. And how will you feel if you fail the test? I’m not go­ing to be pleased. But I’ve seen that I’ve im­proved, and if I con­tinue tak­ing part then I will get bet­ter. I never try to think that I’m go­ing to suc­ceed or, if I don’t, what’s go­ing to hap­pen? I’ve al­ways just gone with the flow. If it hap­pens, it hap­pens. I don’t want to put that in the back of my head and think, “Let’s have a back-up plan for if I fail.” The mo­ment you start mak­ing plans for if you fail, then you’re pretty much say­ing to your­self [that] you are go­ing to fail. Of all the coun­tries and clubs you could have cho­sen, why choose Aus­tralia and the Mariners, who are based in Gos­ford on the NSW Cen­tral Coast? I’ve al­ways wanted to live in Aus­tralia. I come here ev­ery year for a va­ca­tion and we chill out. Peo­ple are re­ally nice to me and there aren’t any crazy fans. There are a lot of fans here, but they’re po­lite. It’s sim­i­lar to Ja­maica. I feel slightly nor­mal. I’ve al­ways said when I re­tire I’m go­ing to come here for six months and live. When the op­por­tu­nity came up for Aus­tralia – I got op­por­tu­ni­ties from dif­fer­ent coun­tries – I was like, “Let’s go to Aus­tralia. Be­cause I know Aus­tralia, I know the peo­ple, I know what it’s about and they speak English.” [Laughs] There has been some neg­a­tive feed­back to­wards your de­sire to be a pro­fes­sional soc­cer player. What do you say to those crit­ics? Noth­ing! I’m used to this. You can’t lis­ten to it. I know what I’m ca­pa­ble of, I know what I’m here to do and it’s their [the me­dia’s] job to write the news no mat­ter how hor­ri­ble or bad it is. But if I start play­ing well, they’re go­ing to write dif­fer­ent things, so that’s all I have to do. You re­cently made your de­but as a guest com­men­ta­tor for Op­tus Sport. I’ve never done it be­fore and felt ner­vous and ex­cited, won­der­ing what I should say. Prince Harry will ar­rive in Aus­tralia later

this week for the In­vic­tus Games. You lost a race to him once… He cheated! [Laughs] When­ever we meet up, we’re al­ways cool and we al­ways laugh. Is it true that you for­mally adopted an aban­doned chee­tah cub and named it Light­ning Bolt? We went to Africa once and went on sa­fari. They said, “We have an­i­mals that you can adopt.” I was like, “Yes! I need to do this.” I found out two years later it was a girl, be­cause ini­tially we were told it was a boy. I was like, “How can you not know that from the start?” You’re an in­spi­ra­tion to young Ja­maicans, and to young ath­letes around the world. How does it feel to be held in such high re­gard? It’s mas­sive. It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing. [Olympic track champ] Michael John­son, [bas­ket­ball greats] Michael Jor­dan, Kevin Gar­nett – all these guys mo­ti­vated me grow­ing up. It never dawned on me un­til I started check­ing my Face­book mes­sages, my In­sta­gram mes­sages – kids and older peo­ple were say­ing, “You re­ally mo­ti­vate me to do great things.” I was like, “Oh my god, I’m a role model.” I try to live the best I can, to prove to peo­ple to work hard and be ded­i­cated. Your In­sta­gram has many videos and posts about your god­son, whom you ob­vi­ously adore. Do you see your­self set­tling down and hav­ing kids one day? Yeah, def­i­nitely. Some­thing I’ve learnt is it’s never a good time to have kids. It took me a while to fig­ure that out. When I started my ca­reer, I was like, “I can’t have a kid now be­cause I work and travel so much.” Then I thought as soon as I re­tire I’m go­ing to have a kid – and then I re­tired and I travel more and now I’m in foot­ball [laughs]. It’s never a good time. You just have to buckle down and do it. It’s in the near fu­ture, so, hope­fully. We’ll see. Your girl­friend of five years, Kasi Ben­nett, is com­ing to stay in Aus­tralia with you. Just putting it out there that there are some very nice wed­ding venues in Aus­tralia… Wow, wow, wow, be cool, be cool [laughs]. You don’t get much down­time, but when you do, what do you like do­ing? I like to stay in­doors. As soon as I fin­ish train­ing, I go home and watch foot­ball or play video games or watch a se­ries - I don’t do re­al­ity TV. I was so happy when Op­tus hooked me up, es­pe­cially with the foot­ball pack­age. They rewired my apart­ment so I could game at high speeds with my friends back home. Your motto is, “Any­thing is pos­si­ble. I don’t think lim­its.” Have they al­ways been words you live by? Not at the start. I grew into it be­cause peo­ple were say­ing, “You can’t do that” or “You can’t run this fast.” And I’m like, “You can’t tell me that. You don’t know what I can do.” [The motto] just came about and I thought, “This is how I’m go­ing to start liv­ing my life.” I’m from Sher­wood Con­tent, in Trelawny in Ja­maica, in a ru­ral area no­body knows. To come up and dom­i­nate and be known world­wide – that’s a story. A lot of peo­ple, when they get dealt a bad hand, go, “I’m not go­ing to make it so I’m not go­ing to even try.” You have to. I al­ways say to peo­ple, “Don’t give up be­cause you never know.” I wanted to win one Olympic gold medal – that was my aim. I wanted to be like Michael John­son and win the 200m Olympic gold medal. And now I have eight! Any­thing is pos­si­ble, so don’t limit your­self.

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