Our team met up with spokesman Usain Bolt in Jamaica earlier this year to film a commercial for ENERTOR, our performance insoles that can help anyone break their limits.
Writer Stephen Caldwell was part of the team, and sat down with Usain to talk about his life, his road to Rio and how he broke his limits to reach where he is today. This week, we’re giving you new insight into Bolt and what makes him tick with our series sharing what Caldwell learned from his time with the world’s fastest man.
And now … the final chapter!
After Rio, Usain Bolt plans to compete internationally for at least another year. Then, who knows? He previously said he won’t run in another Olympics, but he’s hinted lately that he might come back for the 2020 Games. He’ll be a still-young 34.
Some have suggested he move to the 400 meters and add that notch to his belt. The world record there is held by American Michael Johnson (43.18, set in 1999), who also had the record in the 200 before Bolt broke it. Bolt, however, is adamant about avoiding the 400 meters – but he doesn’t think Johnson’s record will stand much longer.
“I’m not a fan of the 400 training,” he says with a laugh. “I see what they do in training. … At the pace the 400 guys are going, I really think they’re going to get (the record). They’re really running fast, and I think the competition is really stiff now. So I think in time Michael Johnson will have a problem, but it won’t be with me.”
Before the 2012 Olympics, Johnson visited Jamaica to film a documentary about what makes Bolt so fast. Johnson runs an academy that helps athletes run faster, so he’s a student of running technique and a big fan of Bolt’s. At one point, Johnson is about to end the interview when Bolt stops him and asks a question.
“When you retired,” Bolt says, “did you miss it?”
“I retired because I ran out of goals,” Johnson says. “I didn’t have any more goals. After I did all that I could, I let it go.”
Bolt reflects a second and says, “It doesn’t matter as long as I’m putting my foot up. If I went into business, I would get an office and go in twice a week. I just want to relax. I won’t miss training. Because it’s hard.”
The question, then, is what’s next for Usain Bolt now that his own retirement is just a few laps into the future? How will he satisfy his need to defy limits once he’s off the track?
“I’m going to stay in the sport for sure,” he tells me. “I’m in some discussions about what that will look like. And I’ll have more time to work on my foundation – with kids in Jamaica. Those are the main two things I’ll do when I retire. And I’ll probably do some (television) analyst work, but I’m not really big on that.
“One of the things we’ve talked about developing is a clinic for athletes who are less fortunate and can’t afford medical care. That’s one of the biggest things we have in the pipeline, and I want to put into motion at the end of the season. We’re going to try to find the land and develop it. At the end of the season, we’ll work on that. Kids who are less fortunate get injured and can’t afford care, so we can help. That’s one of my biggest goals.”
Soon he can sit back – feet up – and watch those kids (and countless others around the world) as they take aim at his place in the history books.
Wikipedia has pages for world record progressions in the 100 meters and the 200 meters, and at the bottom of both lists is the same name: Usain Bolt. But look up the list in the 200 and you see greats like Michael Johnson, Pietro Mennea, Tommy Smith, and Jamaican Donald Quarrie. The list for the 100 is star-studded, as well – men like Bob Hays, Jim Hines, Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Jamaican Asafa Powell. How long before Bolt’s name moves up the list, replaced as the kingpin of speed by the next new phenom?
“There will be great athletes in the future,” Bolt tells me. “They are finding new techniques to work out. Overall, people will get faster. So I think someone in the future will beat my records, but you never know. They will create things to help you get better over time. It’s about how the world evolves. That will determine what time and win.”
He doesn’t seem concerned. It’s like everything else in his life: If it’s destine to happen, it will happen.