It was an insanely Usain Bolt day!
Bengaluru: He is used to sprinting his way into people’s hearts in less than 10 seconds but Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, spent almost the entire day in the city, in his first-ever visit to India, leaving his legion of fans enthralled. From wooing school kids, to sending his female fan following into a tizzy, to winning a cricket contest and living up the Bengaluru party life, the showman did it all.
As thick clouds enveloped the M. Chinnaswamy stadium and threatened to open up on Tuesday, one voice thundered, “I’m the winner. I’m a born winner.” Calling his Indian visit a dream come true, Bolt said, “The energy is great here and I really enjoyed myself.” What came next wasn’t surprising “And you guys have a lot of traffic!” Bolt, who always blurs the line between confidence and arrogance, had the paparazzi following his every step from the moment he touched down till the night when he ended up at a popular club in the city. The Jamaican, who feels that a race against a cheetah as opposed to a super car would be cooler is bluntly honest: “I live to inspire.” Oozing natural charisma and an enviable sense of humour he had the city virtually eating out of his hands.
It was an insanely Usain day!
‘Give me a big stage, a fight, a challenge, and something happens I get real. I walk an inch taller, I move a split second faster. Put me on the big stage and I perform.’ Living true to the words in his autobiography, sprint legend Usain Bolt performed and how! The air of expectancy around ITC Gardenia Hotel in Bengaluru bordered on the surreal. A smattering of running enthusiasts, track and field athletes and journalists had gathered to meet the fastest man on the planet for most of them a chance of a lifetime.
Steps matching the beat of his rap song ‘Faster than Lightning’ incidentally also the title of his autobiography and with psychedelic lights announcing his arrival, the Jamaican star walked on stage and immediately struck his signature pose. There was no mistaking the identity of the man, although several in the audience had to pinch themselves and say, “Yeah its real”. Perform, he sure did. Dark clouds over the city on Tuesday afternoon were in sharp contrast to the bright humour and the ‘electrifying’ charisma which the legend oozed in the packed hall.
As much as his exploits on the track holds one’s attention, hand the mike to the man and he is thoroughly captivating. Some may think he’s cocky, when he makes statements like, “It is pretty (his 100 metres world record) much out of reach. I think I will put it like that.” But when he finishes talking and you break out in a bout of laughter, you know it’s the confidence in his ability that makes him what he is. As his audience sat spellbound, with laughter and applause reverberating the packed room, one thing became clear: Put him on a track or a stage, he’s a performer yet to find his match.
On his world record:
It is pretty much out of reach. I think I will put it like that. I am not bragging. As an athlete I have seen world records being broken. If you want to be great you have to work hard to get there. So for me I want to push barriers, so if you want to be great as me you have to work extra hard to get there. That’s the way I got there so that’s why my record will stand that long and I think it is going to stay there for awhile.
On memories of his first record:
My first record was in New York and it was the first time I was competing against Tyson Gay. For me going to the race it was all about the competition because I live for competition. When I went there I wasn’t thinking of records I went there to win and I remember after I won I was celebrating and I heard the announcer say it was a new world record and I was like ‘What’?
On the record which is up for challenge:
The 200 metres, definitely. I think there is room for improvement there over the years. I think it is a lot more technical. In the coming years I have to really work towards trying to run faster in the 200M and I think while pushing myself to the 200M will help me to attack 100M also.
On his favourite race:
Greatest memory for me was when I was 15. I was running in the world juniors in front of my home crowd in Jamaica. When I won, for me that was one of the greatest moments of my life, the energy was different. So that is my greatest race moment.
On slowing done at the finish in the 100M at Beijing:
My coach always wants me to do my best. When he said why I didn’t run the maximum, I said, ‘Listen. I saw I was going to win and I was just happy. I wasn’t thinking about anything else I was just happy.’
On life after the 2016 Rio Olympics:
I will do one more season after Rio and I have always said I want to try and play football. So I might try it out. Not sure how good I’ll be, but we will see.
On the joy of representing Jamaica:
It is brilliant to represent the country. Any athlete in the world lives to play for their country. No matter how much you run for yourself when it’s time to represent your country it’s an honour. I am always happy to put on the Jamaica colours any day. I live for that and I really enjoy it.
On the man who has the best chance to beat Bolt:
Normally, I would say nobody, but you never know. It’s hard to pick one because there are so many great competitors I compete with. My coach always says Justin Gatlin is a great competitor and I know that Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake are great.
On his love for music:
I am really into music. Over the years I have always danced and I used to go to the clubs and I really got into DJ-ing. I got all the equipments and I practice at home when I have time and I go to the club sometimes and if there is a DJ I will spin a little bit. It is just that music is a part of my life. I’m a good dancer, but there is room for improvement.
On the possibility of turning to movies:
I don’t know, maybe not because, all my life I lived for sport. I never really thought about doing anything else but sport. But you never know what the future holds.