CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: USAIN BOLT
[AN EXTRACT FROM A 16 PAGE FEATURE IN HAYEMAKER BOOKAZINE VOLUME TWO.]
"Nothing's going through my mind at that moment," says the agitated figure in a vest, prowling up and down like a shortsighted man in search of a stray contact lens. “I just try to think about random stuff. I don’t focus on running or the race at that point. I think about what I’m going to do after the race is over. I think about games I might play or a party I might go to. I completely clear my mind of the race.”
Everybody around him is serious – deadly serious – yet the man in question strikes an occasional grin or pose, exposing the whites of his teeth and the bulge of his biceps. While those to his left and right ready themselves for the green mile, this free-spirit is high on the prospect of volts. He wipes his brow, not through nerves, but with a trademark style and swagger not seen round these parts before. Not at this time anyway. This is no time to smile or, God forbid, enjoy what lies ahead. This will be quick and painful. ‘It will all be over in a flash’, the warden might whisper, as he peers out at the line of apprehensive men in coloured jumpsuits. Nobody wants to go last and witness the horror of the men in front. It’s advisable to get it over with quickly. In less than ten seconds it will all be over, like a swift bullet to the brain. They all want to go first in the chair. The man with the gun clears his throat and stares up ahead. Silence.
“When the starter says, ‘On your marks’, that’s when I re-focus,” explains the man smiling his way through death-row. “When you start thinking too much, you only get more nervous. That’s when you start making mistakes. You shouldn’t worry or over-think things too much. The way I look at it is like this – if I’m the fastest man in the world, why should I worry? If I’m fit and ready, and I know I’m fit and ready, then I’m the fastest man in the world.”
He could have been a cricketer, he might one day be a footballer but, for now, Usain Bolt is merely the fastest human being on planet Earth. By the time you read the opening sentences of this piece, the Jamaican icon may well have run 100-metres in spikes, or he may be turning out for Manchester United in studs. Legacy defined in merely 9.58 seconds, the 24-year-old Bolt’s ascent to the position of world’s greatest athlete has been a far longer and strenuous journey, yet he intends to go quicker and do more, as both a track star and sportsman.
The son of a coffee farm labourer and grocery shop owner, Bolt was raised in Trelawny, Jamaica and lived in a house with no running water. Strong of body and mind, Bolt would often have to carry heavy loads of water for miles as a child, in order to supply his family with the necessary survival needs. When not trekking across country to carry water, a young Bolt would spend much of his spare time playing cricket and football with brother Sadeeki and the rest of the children in Sherwood Content.
words: ELLIOT WORSELL
photography: CRESSIDA JADE