the bolt 3

August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

His masseur, Everald Edwards, is waiting by the side of the track. Bolt stretches for a moment and then flops onto the massage couch, swapping patois with NJ — who has shadowed him since he woke up — and smiling at the cameras as his shoes and socks are removed and his muscles are caressed with warming oils. He warms up with a series of 60-metre shuffles down the track and stretches again until finally he is ready for work. He sits on the track, removes his socks and trainers, and NJ hands him his (size 13) racing shoes — brilliant white spikes with a black stripe, gold trimming and golden brown soles.

Gregory Little, an assistant coach at Racers Track Club, is standing by with a clipboard and stopwatch. He has four other athletes scattered around the track but all eyes are on Bolt as he jogs to the 150-metre mark, settles into a crouch and opens the throttle. It is the first time I’ve seen Bolt live and I’m reminded of a thoroughbred racehorse — such grace and power and cadence — as he moves through the gears and crosses the line in 16.8 seconds. Then he takes off his shirt, walks back down the track and does it again.

Ricky Simms, the 37-year-old director of the Pace Sports Management agency, based in Teddington, London, watches from the sideline. Nine years ago, Simms was at a Golden League meeting in Monaco, when a buzz went around about a 15-year-old Jamaican who had just won the 200 metres at the World Junior Championships in Kingston. “Everyone was talking about him,” Simms recalls. “It was ‘Wow! You want to see this kid. He’s just amazing.’”

A year later, they had their first meeting, over dinner in Paris, and in 2004, when Bolt turned professional, Simms was chosen as his “Jerry Maguire” — his dedicated sports agent. The relationship got off to the perfect start in March that year when Bolt broke the world junior record for the 200 metres. There were five months to go until the Athens Olympics and Bolt moved his training base to Teddington for the summer. “Our initial role with him was performance and anything to do with his athletics,” Simms explains. “I remember thinking, ‘We have to impress this kid from Jamaica and make sure that he is treated well and has good lanes.’ So I went to his room [one night before a race] and said, ‘Look, you’re in lane four, here are the guys [outside of you],’ and he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘I’m just giving you your lane draw.’ He said, ‘What do I want to know that for?’ It didn’t matter to him.

“And he would never be in his room. He would always be in the hotel lobby, talking to people. He was like, ‘Let’s play a video game. Let’s hang out.’ Also, he didn’t really change his time zones. He would stay up very late playing video games and then sleep all day. There was an innocence about it that he had.”

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