RIO DE JANEIRO: Usain Bolt might be fast now, but you should have seen him when he was a baby, his mother said Friday as the Jamaican superstar plotted his way to more Olympic history.
“After three weeks he was pushing because he was so strong,” Jennifer Bolt told journalists in Rio.
“One day, I left him on the bed and when I came back he was close to falling off, so from here I was saying, ‘What kind of child he is?” she recalled.
By the age of 12, Bolt was the fastest in his school. “He was always on top,” she said.
Bolt’s parents predict the sprinter will deliver in his Olympic swansong. He is gunning to repeat his 2008 and 2012 exploits with a “Treble Treble” of gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
“He’s upbeat because he said it will be his last Olympics and he wants to go out in a glory, so you can expect great things from him,” his father Wellesley Bolt said.
Asked where their son gets his phenomenal athletic prowess — and entertainment value — the Bolts played down their own influence.
“I think this was a natural talent,” Jennifer Bolt, 54, said, although she thought a diet rich in Jamaican yams couldn’t have hurt.
“I don’t know if it’s really a secret, but I know it’s good,” she said.
But “probably the dance moves is from me,” joked Wellesley Bolt, 60.
– Bringing the fun –
When Bolt hangs up his sprint spikes, athletics will not just lose an all-time Olympic legend but also a world class entertainer.
“I would like him to be ambassador of track and field because he will put a little more fun into the sport,” Jennifer Bolt said. “Without him it will be really boring.”
Whatever comes next for the Bolts, they are likely to keep changes in their lives to a minimum.
The parents live in the same modest house in their hometown of Trelawny and Bolt senior still runs his local store there.
“I need something to occupy my time, so I don’t get lazy, so I still go to the shop,” he said.
“We are proud of him but we don’t think it is fair for us to be acting over the rest of the people in the community, so we decided to stay there. I operate the shop mainly to give away what’s in there!”
Although Bolt himself is one of the world’s most famous celebrities and attracts crowds wherever he goes, he too has kept his very fast feet close to the ground, his parent say.
Since he broke out in 2008 “I haven’t seen any difference in him because from the beginning…, I think his personality is just the same,” Jennifer Bolt said.
Modest, perhaps, but also bursting with confidence as track events get underway in Rio.
“He said to us, ‘Mom, you know, if I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be here, because you know I’m not in the losing team,'” she said.