Thursday, 11 November 2010

‘MY LIFE SO FAR’: USAIN BOLT offers revelations on his speed, the party life and a death in the family, in candid new memoir

THE BOY WHO WOULD BE (SPRINT) KING: It’s safe to conclude that if there’s anything you ever desired to know about The World’s Fastest Human, Usain Bolt, it can probably be found in his newly-released autobiography, 9.58 My Story (Ian Randle), an honest and breezily appealing tome that finds the 24-year-old ace sprinter waxing nostalgic and dishing on everything from his rise to stardom to coping with criticism and pressure to surviving a near-death experience or two. They say you’re to avoid memoirs written by persons under the age of 30, but Bolt’s first book earns an exception for its startling candour and unflinching report of the track superstar’s eventful life so far. Here are some of my favourite bits:

He hails from an authentic Jamaican family…
“The first prize I won was a cup for a primary school race in grade four, and many more followed, although Mom had an amazing ability to break them as soon as I’d brought them home. There are a few still on display in the house, but I don’t know how they’ve survived. Everyone in my family breaks things – glasses, tea-cups, plates. If it can be smashed, it gets smashed, so now they drink out of plastic cups and eat off plastic plates just to be on the safe side.”

He, too, has lost a loved one…
“Grandad died when I was nine – in an accident that happened right in front of me. He was on his way through the kitchen door to get wood for the fire and slipped on the wet dirt floor, banging his head as he landed. He didn’t move, and I went to the next house to get help, but there was nothing they could do for him. He had suffered a heart attack. It was a terrible time for our family but didn’t mean much to me because I was so young. When we went to the funeral my mom and sisters were crying, but I didn’t. I stood around at the graveside watching him being buried, then went off to play. You don’t understand what death is at that age.”

He survived a near-death experience…
“I almost drowned once. There were some concrete slabs in the [river] water, and we would swim from one to the other, but one time we were having a backstroke race, and I misjudged where I was. When I went to stand up where I thought the concrete deck was, there was nothing. It was the weirdest sensation as I quickly sank and began to freak out as water rushed into my mouth and up my nose. Fortunately I’d watched a TV programme only the week before which said that if you think you’re drowning, the worst thing you can do is panic. Somehow I remembered it and managed to stop trying to breathe, went right down to the bottom, pushed off and came back to the surface. I can’t describe the relief as I gulped in the fresh air. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t seen that programme. I didn’t go back to the river for a good two months after that and have been wary of water ever since. I might fool around in the swimming pool at my house or splash around on the beach, but that’s about it.”

Staying true to himself…
“If there were gold medals for partying I’d have won every year from 2003, when I moved to Kingston at the age of 17, until I was 20. For a country boy the attractions of the big city were irresistible… I have no regrets – it made me who I am. I have to relax and enjoy life to get the best out of myself. If I did everything by the book I’d be a very dull boy, and I’m sure it would have a negative effect on my running.”

How fast can he really go?
“I do believe there is a limit to how fast the human body can run, and I don’t see how the 100M record can ever go below 9.4. It is impossible to run 9.2; the body isn’t made to go that fast, no matter how hard you train, how good a shape you’re in or how good your technique… I was 24 in August 2010, and Coach says it will be at least two more years before I peak, maybe three. I’m nowhere near finished yet.”

He’s always looking (way) ahead…
“There is one promise I can make about the future – the 2016 Olympics in Brazil will be my last major competition. I won’t be the type of athlete who obstinately keeps on going in a vain attempt to defy the passage of time. I don’t know what exactly I’ll do when I retire. Leave it to me to find something very interesting.”

To order your copy of Usain Bolt’s book, 9.58: My Story, click HERE.

No comments:

Post a comment