Some thoughts on Mr. Bolt, by Stuart Weir, Monaco Diary

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Bolt-DeGrasseSFNoNo1-OlyGames16.jpgAndre De Grasse and Usain Bolt, Rio 2016, photo by PhotoRun.net

Stuart Weir flew back from Monaco to cover the last days of IPC World Disability Games in London. Inspired, (he might have slept), Stuart wrote several more stories on Monaco. Here's his piece on Usain Bolt.

Usain_Bolt_-_Monaco_2017_Press_Conference_37737_596f6f3ceb.jpgUsain Bolt, 2017 Monaco Presser, photo from Monaco DL

On Friday in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel, Monaco, Usain Bolt walked past me. I stopped and stared. He has that effect on you. When he jogged up the track in his warm-up, he had to pause to acknowledge the applause. The local newspaper Monaco Matin said that he was like Roger Federer and Michael Jordan. It was a good and appropriate comparison. Borg, McEnroe, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors and Novak Djokovic have been dominant tennis players but none of them had the aura or popularity of Roger Federer. Other NBA stars have impressive stats but the name Michael Jordan is known throughout the world - even in the UK where basketball has little coverage. Similarly Bolt is a hero throughout the world.

He is one of that small group of people on the planet whose name is instantly recognizable. When you say "Bolt" no one asks you - which Bolt you mean. The first name "Usain" equally belongs uniquely to one person.

I felt privileged to be in the stadium in Monaco to see his final Diamond League appearance - just as I feel privileged to have been in the stadium for his 9 Olympic triumphs and his World Championship wins. In a funny way I am pleased to have been there for his false start in Daegu, Korea at the 2011 World Champs.

In an interview in the French paper L'Equipe this week, Bolt's manager, Ricky Simms, said that Usain feels at times like a caged animal. He was spending his week in his hotel suite, not able even to eat meals in the athlete's restaurant in the event hotel because he would not be left in peace to eat. Simms says that in a year or two Bolt wants to return to places like Monaco and walk outside and eat in restaurants like a normal person.

While one understands his desire to hide away on occasions, it is not that he does not engage with the public. Think of his clowning on the blocks seconds before he gets down to work - or his endless patience in allowing selfies after a race - and as he says, he often has to teach people how to take selfies!

DSCN0265.JPGMonaco DL in Bolt frenzy, notice all of the selfies, photo by Stuart Weir

Bolt's legacy will be immense - medals, world records, fifty 100 metre races under 10 seconds. The list could go on. As I reflected on my own special memories of the man who has dominated our sport for nine years, there are a number.

Bolt298.jpgTerezihna and Bolt, Rio 2016, photo courtesy of Rio 2016 Paralympics/Nissan

  • The picture of him running as the Brazilian blind runner Terezinha Guilhermina's guide on a visit to Rio;
  • The time he came into a press conference in London with a bandaid on his arm to show that he had been drug-tested that morning;
  • The time at the Rome Diamond League when I was almost the only one in the mixed zone - waiting for a GB athlete - when Bolt came through and I got an unexpected 1-2-1
  • The press conference when he was asked if it would be bad for the sport if Gatlin beat him in the forthcoming championship. His reply: "I can't answer that question as I was not planning on losing".

Usain_Bolt_-_Monaco_2017_Press_Conference_37733_596f6f3bde.jpgUsain Bolt, speaking with media, Monaco DL Presser, photo by Monaco DL

In Monaco his time was 9.95. Normally that would lead to murmuring about a poor time. On this occasion, he won the race, waved the crowd and no one cared about the time. Where I was sitting it looked as if I might be the only person in the stadium not filming the race on my phone! Usain and everyone else left the stadium happy, having been part of a special moment.

Bolt_UsainWR1919_WCh09.jpgUsain Bolt, WR 19.19, 200 meters, Berlin 2009, photo by PhotoRun.net

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