A blazing Southern California sun beat down on the Mt. San Antonio College track on a windless Tuesday, and even for someone accustomed to training in the Caribbean, this was really, really hot, David Leon Moore writes in The Tucson Citizen.
“Hotter than Jamaica,” Usain Bolt said, wiping his brow.
It didn’t help that Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who is the fastest man in the history of track and field, the world recordholder in 100 and 200 meters, wore black jeans, a black polo shirt and a black “UB” baseball cap.
But he was having fun anyway.
“I always have fun with the kids,” said Bolt, who appeared at the college, home of the annual Mt. SAC Relays, to conduct a clinic staged by his shoe sponsor, Puma.
“I really enjoy coming out and trying to teach them a few things and trying to inspire them. For me, it was good to be inspired as an athlete growing up. I enjoy it.”
Bolt, who is making a few more appearances in Los Angeles this week before returning home and enjoying a month or so of a break in training, was relaxed in his role as teacher.
Bolt, who earlier this year repeated as the 200-meter world champion but was disqualified from the 100 because of a false start, certainly caught the irony of him instructing a group of Mt. SAC sprinters in starting techniques.
“I’m sorry about my start at the world championships,” he said sheepishly to the crowd of several hundred people, most of them high school track runners.
Then he jokingly taunted a Mt. SAC freshman sprinter who was asked to provide an example of a start. The start went smoothly enough, and the young runner sped down the track in good form.
“Good look, good look,” Bolt said. “What are you, about a 10.5? Not bad for a freshman. It’s a long way, though, to a 9.5. A long way.”
Bolt’s 100-meter world record is 9.58 seconds.
Bolt, 25, said after the clinic that his strongest advice to young runners is to always have a goal.
“And when you reach it, make another one,” he said. “It feels better when you have to be working hard toward something.
“I wanted to be a legend. Some people say I already am a legend. But I want more.”
Then, smiling, he added, “Maybe I’ll do the long jump or something.”
Does he think his false start at the world championships will cause sprinters to sit in the blocks at next year’s Olympics, resulting in slow times?
“It may play on a few people’s minds,” he said. “But I think that for elite professional athletes, it won’t be any problem. It won’t be that bad.”
What about for him?
“Definitely not. I proved that at the last meet I ran (a 9.76 in the 100 meters, the world’s fastest time of the year, in Brussels). My reaction was really good there.”
At Brussels, his training partner, 21-year-old Jamaican Yohan Blake, ran a shocking 19.26 in the 200 meters, the second-fastest time in history, behind Bolt’s 19.19. What was Bolt’s reaction?
“For me, it was a ‘Wow,’ ” he said. “I never saw that coming, and I’ve seen him running in training. But I talked to my coach, and he said he’s improved a lot. For me, whatever. He’s a great athlete. So good luck.”
Does the time change their relationship?
“Never. For me, you can’t let a time get in the way of a relationship. We’re great friends and great training partners.”
What does he expect from U.S. sprint rival Tyson Gay next year?
“I’ve been listening around, and I think it’s going to be really hard for Tyson. Coming back from a hip injury … I think he’s still in rehab now and will be in rehab for a while. I just think it’s going to be very hard for him to come back next year.”
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