Usain Bolt @ Mt.SAC, by Jon Sutherland, note by Larry Eder

Usain [email protected], 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

One of those days. That is how yesterday started. I had to find a writer, the right writer, to cover a Speed Clinic that was being sponsored by PUMA and presented by their top athlete, Usain Bolt. A clinic being done by the best sprinter in the world!  How many athletes would want to go to that?

Friends at PUMA had told us about the clinic, and we were pretty excited. This was on ordinary speed clinic! I was unable to change my schedule around, so I needed to find a writer.  I needed to find a writer who would be able to cover the speed clinic as a valuable coaching tool, but also who understands the rock n roll nature of an athlete such as Usain Bolt: I needed someone special. 

After a few hours of panic, I hunted up Jon Sutherland. Jon has built a life around running and music: he has not missed a day of running in over 40 years, and he has spent his life, as a journalist, writing about musicians and athletes. Jon is a track & cross country coach at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California.  About six foot four, with long gray hair, Jon looks like a runner and in fact, went out for his run as I was sending him background info for the story.

Jon has that distance runner look, while at the same time, he looks like a bass player in a metal band. His favorite band is Thin Lizzy.  We joked that there are many similarities between both groups, athletes want to be musicians and musicians want to be athletes. Jon would surely understand the attraction of Usain Bolt.

Jon headed over for the clinic, which, while planned for crowd of two hundred, had a crowd of six hundred. " It was getting crazy, " noted a PUMA staffer.  The news had gotten out. It was all over the twitter world. PUMA knew Usain Bolt would pull a crowd, but it was not only the athletes, but the media. Usain, Sutherland told us, " took it all in stride.

Jon Sutherland called me Tuesday night, and noted that "Usain was great, he is part comic and part athlete. The crowd loved him." He also noted that Usain was pretty forthcoming on the interviews from news media. Watch for that story later....

We know one thing. Those six hundred high school, junior high and college athletes got one of those experiences of their life being that close to Usain Bolt, who kept the crowd laughing and learning about track & field! 

This is Jon's piece on Usain Bolt and the Speed Clinic, we hope that you enjoy it! (Special thanks to Kristina Fields/PUMA and Danielle Klebenow/PUMA for the photography).

We hope that you enjoy it. Make sure to pass it around!

55.jpgMaking track real, Usain Bolt , 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                During his decompression after the 2011 track season Usain Bolt visited Mt. Sac in Walnut, CA for a Puma speed clinic. Clad in all black and wearing a UB cap he was in his typical jovial mood enjoying the crowd and entertaining them just as he does the millions who love every step he takes."It's hot here!" he said addressing the adoring young runners who crowded around the track to get a close look of their hero. "Hotter than Jamaica; how do you do it?"

18.jpgBolt-A-Mania, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                The fastest man in the world's visit to the Southern California mecca for track and field, was one part specific training and work out tips, one part stand-up comedy with a some serious journalistic inquires about Bolt's plans for 2012.

76.jpgConverting one sprinter at a time, Usain Bolt, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                The sprinters in attendance were very responsive to his tips. "I warm up for about 30-35 minutes. I'm fast you know! Doesn't take me that long," Bolt said with a chuckle. "I like to do a few sixty meter strides, stretch, and then my drills." He asked the sprinters from Mt. Sac to demonstrate high knees, skips, and when he wasn't satisfied with a bounding drill he did it in his black jeans and seemed to stay in the air twice as long as any of the collegiate competitors.

73.jpgUsain Bolt with the Mt.SAC track & field squad, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                Since he wasn't dressed to get down in the blocks he pointed out what he felt was the most important part of the start as young sprinters took off. "Your first three steps have to be very quick! If you're shorter it's easier, but it's hard for me. Many sprinters focus only on technique.  Your center of gravity has to be right. Your shoulders, knees and toes should all be in a straight line. If you don't do that right something is going to go wrong."
                As one of the young runners came out of the blocks he looked over him like an esteemed university professor and said, "Good look, good look! That's not bad for a freshman." Then he guessed his PR, "10.5?" Someone in the crowd shouted out '10.6' and Usain joked "That's a long way from 9.5 boy!"  The crowd exploded with laughter.

73.1.jpg"Do as I do", Usain Bolt, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA/Danielle Klebanow

                Away from the high volume rock and roll and pumped up cheerleading of a very well done track clinic Bolt faced a few questions. Asked about London in 2012, "I can't say I haven't thought about it but I'm not going to stress. Next year will be good, we'll get back to our normal training, work on our speed endurance, weight training and try not to get too bulky."
                The emergence of his teammate Yohan Blake impressed the track world but not Bolt. "I've been telling everybody for years; Yohan Blake was going to be a great athlete. It's good to see a friend who I know has worked very hard do so well. We train together, we run for the same country. It's a wonderful feeling. I'm looking forward to competing against him."

78.jpgTalk, Talk, Usain Bolt, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                Will the world see the first sub 19.0 200M? He had a quizzical look on his face but defused the question easily, "I think anything is possible. You run hard, train hard, learn new techniques," then he added, "I'd need lane five or six, I'm too tall for lane three!"

184.jpgAutograph time, Usain Bolt, 27 September 2011,
photo by PUMA
/Danielle Klebanow

                What's next for the superstar of track, "I'm going to Las Vegas, everybody says I have to see it."

Look out Sin City, there's never been anyone like him.
                                                                                                                                                                -Jon Sutherland

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