He won a historic triple treble at Rio, and plans to retire next year. What’s next for the fastest man alive? He talks doping, partying and his plans to settle down
To run faster than any other human being in history is such an extraordinary concept that you have to wonder what it would do to your sense of self. I wondered a lot about it on my way to Jamaica, and the first glimpse of Usain Bolt appears to confirm my worst fears. He arrives at Kingston’s empty National Stadium in blazing Caribbean sunshine, impossibly tall and lean, and approaches with the body language of a man who would rather be anywhere else.
Just 10 days earlier, the sprinter had achieved the unprecedented feat of a third consecutive triple Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, watched by hundreds of millions of adoring global fans. Photos of his post-victory celebrations in a Rio nightclub, followed by a night in a young Brazilian woman’s bed, were splashed across front pages all over the world, and the party had carried on to London. For more than a week, minibuses shuttled sparkly clubbers in high heels from Mayfair nightspots to his hotel, the paparazzi scarcely able to believe their luck.
The line between self-belief and arrogance is a fine one, and who could blame Bolt if he crossed it? The last time he had to introduce himself with, “Hello, I’m Usain Bolt”, the prime minister was Gordon Brown and we hadn’t heard of Netflix. Bolt hopes he will never need to say the words again, “because I want my legend to live on.” So assured is he of his supremacy that the iconic image from Rio was of the sprinter turning, mid-race, to smile for a camera in the 100m semi-final. Typical Bolt quotes range from, “I never doubt myself” to, “I told you all I was going to be number one, and I did just that” or simply, “I am a legend.” So, after we greet, I ask a question that feels a bit like an experiment, and unlikely to elicit an answer. What is he insecure about?
Usain Bolt and President Obama in Jamaica in 2015.
Usain Bolt and President Obama in Jamaica in 2015. Photograph: DDP USA/Rex/Shutterstock
“What don’t I like about myself?” He looks momentarily surprised, and thinks. “Honestly? My hair. My hairline.” His hairline? “Yes, I don’t know where it’s going!” He rubs his head ruefully. “That’s why I always wear my hair high, mohawk, so it doesn’t show it that much. Every Olympics, I always cut my hair, but then I grow it again. I might try growing a beard, too, to see if that helps.”
And from that moment on he is an utter delight: engaging, funny, thoughtful and surprisingly forthcoming. When we leave the stadium, his best friend, NJ, takes us on a drive around Kingston while Bolt talks about doping, DJing, making money and wanting to play for Manchester United. We end up at his own restaurant, Tracks & Records, and by the time we sit down for lunch, he is cheerfully talking about oral sex.
I Am Bolt: exclusive clip Guardian
The famous mid-race Rio smile during the 100m semi-final turns out, like so many social media sensations, to have been apocryphal. What actually happened, Bolt explains, was this: “I was running, and I was like, all right, I can shut it off now. I looked to my right first, to make sure no one’s catching. Then I remembered NJ saying, ‘Yo, remember [the Canadian sprinter] Andre de Grasse is a late surger.’” Bolt turned to his left to check De Grasse wasn’t catching him. “I saw that I had him covered, and I smiled. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m good, I’m good.’ So that’s why I smiled. But one of the pictures caught me looking straight down the lens of some camera. Then everyone’s like, ‘Yo Usain Bolt!’” He shakes his head, laughing. “It’s crazy.”
Nor is it true, Bolt says, that he is boastful. I know his country well, having lived there, and in fairness to him, self-aggrandisement is something of a national sport among Jamaican men, by whose standards he is relatively restrained. And he is quite correct when he points out, “At the start of my career, I never bragged. Initially, I was like, ‘No, no.’ And I kept on saying no. Then, ‘All right, I’m getting there, I’m getting there.’ But now I’m comfortable saying it. If somebody said, ‘Who are you?’ then, ‘I am the best.’ And that’s a fact. You’re just telling somebody who you are. I feel that if you have done something, it’s not bragging.
When women throw themselves at you, it’s always going to be hard to say no
“The one thing that always annoys me is when [American sprinter and great rival] Justin Gatlin always says, ‘Oh, I’m going to beat Usain Bolt, blah, blah, blah.’ I’m like, why don’t interviewers ask him, why should we believe you? I really want an interviewer, one day, to ask him that question – to say, ‘You guys have got up 10 times, you’ve won one of them. Give me a good reason why we should write that Gatlin’s going to beat Usain Bolt?’ People should call you out on it. But if you are actually the best, then I feel as long as you don’t overdo it, it’s fine.”
Bolt’s parents brought him up to be what Jamaicans call “mannersable”, and he is very careful to remain so. “It’s one thing my parents would be really upset and hate about me, if I changed and stopped having respect. My parents would be crazy.” He becomes boyishly bashful when recalling meeting President Obama on a state visit to Jamaica. “Nervousness just overcame me, and I was talking, but my sentences didn’t make sense. I was so shocked when he said, ‘Let’s do the pose.’ I’ve never gotten into the position that quickly!”
We drive in an air-conditioned 4×4 through the scruffy muddle of downtown Kingston. Bolt is dressed casually but flawlessly – turquoise polo top, black designer jeans, immaculate trainers – but says, “I’m not really a fashion person. I just like to look good. Sometimes I go on the road in shorts and people look at me” – he adopts a horrified voice – “‘What are you wearing?’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to dress up to just come get food. It makes no sense. It’s a waste of my energy.’”
Bolt’s voice is usually the deep baritone we hear in TV interviews, but can leap to a comic falsetto squeal when he jokes around, particularly when he breaks into patois to talk to NJ. On the whole, however, he thinks the world has a pretty good idea of who he really is. There’s just one thing he wants everyone to understand, which is why he let a film crew follow him for more than a year leading up to Rio, for a feature-length documentary, I Am Bolt.
Usain Bolt’s famous smile during the 100m semi-final in Rio.
Bolt’s famous ‘smile’ during the 100m semi-final in Rio. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
“Everybody says winning’s easy for me,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Why would you say that?’ Yes, it looks easy. But it’s not. There’s a lot of work and dedication. It’s rough. I want people to understand that what they see on the track is because I work so hard to get there.”
I have seen only 18 minutes of the film, and it was certainly eye-opening. We see Bolt run dragging a weight that looks like a lawn roller strapped to his waist, and hear him talk about training until he vomits. We meet his parents in the impoverished rural community where he grew up, and also his coach, Glen Mills, a formidably hardboiled character whom Hollywood should cast as a boxing trainer if they ever make another Rocky film. Having coached Bolt for 12 years, Mills is the reason the sprinter always looks as if he’s having the time of his life when he lines up beside a row of tense, anxious rivals before a race. “My coach is always telling me, ‘Never start thinking about defeat at any point. The moment you start thinking about defeat, you’ve already lost the race.’”
The one big failure of Bolt’s career came in 2011, when he false-started in the world championship 100m final and was disqualified. Never a strong starter out of the blocks, “that season was the worst I’ve ever had when it comes to starts. So it was bothering me. And coach is always telling me, ‘You’ll be fine. When you get there, it will come together, don’t worry, don’t worry.’ But it was hard for me not to worry, and when I got there, I wasn’t being myself. I was serious. I was so focused, I was just like one of the other guys. Then I messed up.
Usain Bolt’s false start in the 100m final at the 2011 world championship.
Bolt’s false start in the 100m final at the 2011 world championship. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
“So, no matter how much pressure is on, I never think about it, because it starts creeping in and plays with your mind. That’s why I clown around before a race. I’m relaxed, I enjoy myself. And it works. My coach is very smart.”
In the film, Mills says Bolt is “not an easy man to coach”. “I don’t think that,” the runner protests, but if you read Bolt’s autobiography, you’ll see what Mills means. As a young boy, Bolt had little interest in athletics and wanted to play cricket instead. He had to be persuaded to take up the 200m and 400m, and was soon running astonishing times, but “wasn’t too keen on training”, he writes, and became lazy. By 12, he was bunking off to play video games instead. At 17, he moved to Kingston, discovered Burger King and nightclubs, and didn’t fancy getting up early; when Mills took the teenager on, he had to be more like a dad than a trainer. In 2007, an exasperated Mills sat Bolt down and told him, “You have to want something. Desire is the key to success.” Bolt thought about it. He knew his mum hated doing laundry by hand, so he decided to knuckle down and earn enough from racing to buy her a washing machine. And that is how, 18 months later, he won three gold medals and broke two world records at the Beijing Olympics.
Bolt has always credited much of his success to his refusal, in his teens, to leave Jamaica for a scholarship place at a big American college. He’d heard that scholarship athletes were subjected to intolerable pressure, and didn’t fancy becoming just another failed contender from the Caribbean who would come home “broken”. He’d also heard it was cold in the States, “with snow and stuff”, and was worried about missing his mum. There is a popular theory that the history of slavery explains Jamaicans’ sprinting prowess – only the very fittest survived the passage from Africa, and their genetic legacy gives Jamaicans the edge – but Bolt puts the nation’s success down to the passion of its fans. Track is to Jamaicans what football is to Brazilians, and their expectations became, after his mother’s washing machine, Bolt’s motivation.
He famously ate 1,000 chicken nuggets in Beijing, having not fancied the look of the local food, but Mills has gradually worked his diet into shape. Bolt now has a cook, and though he still can’t break his bad habit of eating late, in bed, on his coach’s instructions he now confines his midnight snacks to cornflakes. Mills has never been one for congratulations, and after every race offers only technical criticism. Last year he told him, “Listen to me, if you don’t get yourself in the shape which I feel you should be in, I’m not going to Rio. You can go, but I’m not.”
When Bolt crossed the finishing line in the 4x100m relay in Rio, completing his third triple gold, his overwhelming sensation was one of intense relief. “Yes, I’ve done it. It’s so much pressure, and it’s done.” Only later, as congratulations began pouring into his phone, did he “start smiling for no reason. After a couple of days, you’re like, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Oh yes, I’m happy.”
I’m curious to know what he felt before the 100m final, when the crowd booed Gatlin. If Bolt is the darling of the track, the American is the pantomime villain, having twice failed drug tests and served two bans. “I was really shocked. In all the years I’ve been doing track, I’ve never seen somebody get booed at a championship.” Did he feel sorry for him? “A little bit. But then, after all the talking that was going on all season,” and he allows himself a little chuckle, “not that much.” Gatlin later claimed he’d simply shrugged off the booing. Bolt snorts. “You can’t shrug that off.”
Several star Jamaican sprinters have also failed drug tests in recent years, plunging this island of fanatical athletics fans into a turmoil of dismay that might only be equalled in the UK were Sir David Attenborough to be caught mugging a nun. None, however, tested positive for steroids or the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), only for banned substances that could have plausibly, as they claimed, been caused by accidental contamination. Does Bolt think sprinters caught doping with EPO, steroids or – as Gatlin was in the second of his two bans – testosterone should be banned for life? Gatlin has said he did not knowingly take testosterone. Bolt exhales uneasily.
“Oh, it’s a tough question. But if you genuinely go out of your way to cheat, and you know you’re cheating, I think, yes, you should be banned for good. You’re robbing other people of their hard work, and their stress, and their sacrifice that they’ve put out to be the best. If you go out of your way to try to cheat people, when you get caught, all the glory, the fun, the sponsorship you could have gotten, it’s already gone. So I feel like you should be banned for life.”
Suspicion, inevitably, has circled around Bolt ever since he burst on to the track and smashed the world 100m record. Nobody believed someone 6ft 5in could run that fast; even Bolt’s coach had agreed to let the 200m runner try the 100m only a year before Beijing. With speeds such as his, insinuations of doping were bound to follow.
Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 2015 world championship 200m final.
Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 2015 world championship 200m final. Photograph: Corbis
Bolt couldn’t care less. “I really don’t let things like that bother me. It’s because, over the years, you know that’s going to happen. That’s what they’re going to ask. I’m going to enjoy this, no matter. When you work so hard for what you have done, and it finally comes, it should feel good. I’m not going to let somebody else rob me of that moment. I feel good because I know I’ve done it clean.”
To describe Bolt as a hero in Jamaica doesn’t come close to capturing the fever of national adulation. Vast crowds brought downtown Kingston to a standstill every time he raced in Rio, as thousands filled the streets to roar at giant open-air screens, and angry letters of complaint were written to newspapers after his triumphant return home went uncelebrated by a state reception at Kingston airport. Bolt’s unnoticed arrival was in fact not a slight or an oversight, but a carefully planned national security necessity: in 2008, the official reception for his return from Beijing was mobbed by crowds of thousands and descended into something more like a riot.
If you go out of your way to cheat, and you know you’re cheating, I think, yes, you should be banned for good
It’s therefore a surprise to hear that he can move freely around Kingston and Jamaica, unbothered by intrusive attention. He trains every day in a public gym, and it wouldn’t occur to the local photographers to stake the place out. Private security is a ubiquitous feature of daily life for the uptown rich, “but if you’re a sports star in Jamaica”, Bolt chuckles, “you have nothing to worry about. No one troubles you. You get a lot of love, a lot of respect. No one can even dare think about hurting you, because we’re very proud people, and when you do good for your country, they love you so much, so I have no issue.”
I’d have doubted his word had I not got chatting earlier to a supermarket checkout assistant, who told me he had met Bolt in the store. Did he shop with an entourage or alone, I was curious to know. “Oh, he wasn’t alone. No, he had four or five girls with him. He asked me to get them our strongest alcohol.” The young man grinned. “And he bought a lot.”
Whenever Bolt gets a break in his training schedule, he is easy to find on the dancefloor or behind the decks of a Kingston nightclub called Fiction. His exuberant party reputation only makes Jamaicans love him even more. Why anyone – the Daily Mail, usually – would disapprove baffles Bolt. If he didn’t go out and have fun, he thinks he’d probably go mad.
“One thing I’ve learned about, growing up, I’ve watched superstars and they put on a front. They try to live a certain life, because the media forces you to conform to what they feel is the right way you should live. This is how most people go crazy and start doing drugs and stuff, because of the stress; they smoke weed or probably take cocaine or whatever it is. I don’t want to be that person. Some people always wanted me to stop partying – but no, that’s me. It’s something I enjoy. I’ve always tried to live my life the way I wanted to, so I can be a good role model.”
Usain Bolt with his mother, Jennifer, after the 2015 world championship 100m final.
Bolt with his mother, Jennifer, after the 2015 world championship 100m final. Photograph: Getty Images
His post-Olympic nocturnal shenanigans are the one topic I have been forbidden to ask him about. Fleet Street’s scandalised froth over pictures of a famous man with women who were not his girlfriend is par for the course in this country, but puzzlingly absurd to someone from a dating culture that neither assumes nor aspires to monogamy. As Bolt wrote in his autobiography, “Believe me, the scene is pretty different from the way it is in Europe. In the Caribbean, guys play around a lot.” Bolt and his girlfriend, Kasi Bennett, went on holiday to Bora Bora in September and, before jetting off, his only apparent concern was his abs. Anxious to make sure they looked good on the beach, he hadn’t worked on anything else in the gym since the Olympics. After all Bolt’s extracurricular indiscretions, he and the 26-year-old from Kingston remain very much a couple.
“It’s about different cultures,” he reflects, “and I always say the first world never understands other people in third-world countries. They always feel like, if you’re a superstar, this is how you should live, but that’s not how I was brought up. Wayne Rooney got married when he was 21, but I grew up in Jamaica. When women throw themselves at you, it’s always going to be hard to say no.”
National attitudes towards homosexuality are another big cultural difference. “Initially, for me, it was the worst thing, but then I grew up and I have no problem with gays. I work with a lot of gay people all over the world, especially with [his sponsor] Puma.” But he won’t say Jamaica should legalise homosexuality. “Because it’s dangerous to get involved in the rules. I have no issue with anybody. But it’s the choice of the people, and it’s against the law.”
Another cultural norm has always mystified me. In Jamaica, cunnilingus is an unthinkable taboo, riotously ridiculed in dancehall lyrics and mocked by men who boast, “Mi nah bow down” (I don’t go down). Bolt has been interviewed so many times, he must be bored to death by the same old questions, so I try one I doubt he’ll have been asked before. Does he take a more international view on this matter, or is he a traditional “Mi nah bow down” Jamaican?
His eyes widen. He starts, laughs, and exclaims, “That’s what we all say! I’m like, ‘Yo, that’s just how we’re brought up.’ After time, you get into the world, and you understand that it’s a choice. If you want to do it, it’s your choice. I know a lot of my friends do it.” He grins and shakes his head. “But not me.”
He definitely wants to have children. “For sure. I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to it. NJ has a son now, so I really want a son. But kids take up a lot of time, and track and field is different, so I want to be ready, fully ready, when I decide to have kids.” By 30, most Jamaicans are parents, and Bolt is often asked why he hasn’t yet had children. “But I wasn’t going to just randomly have kids with anybody, because my dad had that problem. I don’t want to have that problem.”
Simone Biles and Boyfriend Jonathan Owens Wear Matching Outfit Colors for Date Night
Simone Biles and NFL boyfriend Jonathan Owens have been the internet craze since they made their relationship public. The two met during the pandemic, and have been inseparable ever since.
The two spent the entire holiday season together, and often take to social media to share glimpses with fans who can’t help but adore them. Recently, they left fans drooling with pictures from their date night.
Simone Biles and Jonathan Owens twin in blue for a dinner date
Simone Biles met Jonathan Owens during the pandemic in 2020. Because of the lockdown soon after they met, the two were able to spend a lot of time together.
With a shared love for bulldogs, the two soon started going out and in August 2020, the lovebirds made their relationship official. Biles clearly is head over heels for Owens. Meanwhile, Owens himself has all the love and admiration for her.
The two spend the entire holiday season together, from Thanksgiving to New Years. They clearly love spending time with each other and can’t bear to stay apart.
On Sunday, the couple was out for a dinner date, wearing matching outfits. The duo looked stunning as they twinned in blue and black.
They took to their social media to post pictures of their date night.
“Just trying to match yo fly,” posted Owens.
While Biles wore a beautiful blue crop top with black leather pants, Owens decided to match her wearing a black t-shirt with a blue imprint and finishing it off with black pants.
Owens admired Biles’ personality
Jonathan Owens has earlier also revealed that he really admired Biles’ personality. Biles is a happy-go-lucky person, even though she has gone through insurmountable odds.
“She’s always happy, giggly, bubbly. If I’ve had a tough day at the office, I wouldn’t want to take that home to her. Her personality, man….,” said Owens.
Owens really admired Biles’ energy and loves to spend time with his girlfriend.
Simone Biles and Jonathan Owens first went public with their relationship in August 2020
The two of them are extremely supportive of each other and encourage each other. Biles is often spotted cheering on Owens during his matches. Meanwhile, Owens also doesn’t fail to reciprocate the same.
Owens was also standing tall with Biles while she went through her struggles, backing up her decision to step down from Tokyo 2020. He really is her pillar of strength.
Revealed: The Insane Amount of Earnings That Have Propelled Lewis Hamilton’s Net Worth to $300 Million Mark
The thing about athletes like Lewis Hamilton that differentiates them from the rest is that they set such a high standard of results that anything below a win is termed as a disappointment. But in Hamilton’s case this year, everybody seemed to agree that he had one of the best seasons of his career.
And despite not being able to add his eighth and record-breaking championship to his mountain of achievements, the Mercedes driver added a lot of digits to his earnings.
In 2021, Lewis Hamilton earned a massive $70 million from Formula 1 in terms of salary and bonuses. And an additional $12 million from sponsorships.
This meant that the total earnings of $82 million made sure that for the first time in his career, Lewis Hamilton’s estimated net worth crossed over the mark of a quarter of a billion dollars.
Now with a net worth of $300 million, Hamilton is the eighth highest-paid athlete in the world.
Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing first in qualifying Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron
But in 2022, Lewis Hamilton might earn less compared to 2021.
How much will Lewis Hamilton earn in salary in 2022?
In 2021, Lewis Hamilton agreed to a two-year contract extension. This saw him earn a salary of $55 million (excluding bonuses) as reported by Forbes. But in his final year of the contract, the one he is currently on, it is reported that Hamilton’s salary will take a dip.
According to a report, the Mercedes driver will earn $40 million in salary in 2022.
It’s also worth pointing out that the 2021 champion Max Verstappen retains his $25 million paycheck.
The reason for the pay cut in salary of the seven-time world champion could be the fact that he is edging towards the end of his career. But also because of the cost cap that F1 introduced in 2021.
Yet it’s not as if Lewis Hamilton doesn’t have an income flow from outside the sport.
He is undeniably one of the biggest names in the global sports landscape, and his magnanimous achievements have already made sure that he’ll remain an incredibly marketable name for years to come.
Serena Williams’ Daughter Olympia Shows Off Impressive Tennis Backhand Swing: ‘Practice Makes Better’
Serena Williams’ daughter, Olympia Ohanian, showcased her talents on the tennis court in a video posted to her Instagram on Monday
Olympia Ohanian is following in mom Serena Williams’ famous footsteps.
The 4-year-old tiny tot showed off her seriously impressive tennis skills in a new video posted to her Instagram account on Monday, showcasing a swing that rivals tennis players of all age groups.
“Practice makes better,” reads a simple caption accompanying the video, in which Olympia can be seen sporting a black-and-white workout getup while she effortlessly practices her backhand on the court.
“It’s Oracene [Price] all over again!” Williams’ sister, Venus, commented, referring to their mom, who also served as their tennis coach when they were younger.
Olympia’s tennis skills shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering Serena, 40, is one of the most decorated tennis players in the history of the sport, and the mommy-daughter duo spend a considerable amount of time practicing together.
“Honestly, we started because it’s a socially safe sport, and when COVID happened, it was like, we’re just in the house with a 3-year-old, what do we do?” the 23-time Grand Slam winner told PEOPLE of how Olympia got involved with the sport, adding, “There was only one answer, to my dismay.”
Serena shares Olympia with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, whom she wed in a star-studded event at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans in November 2017.
And although Olympia clearly takes her tennis training seriously on and off the court — Serena recently showed fans her daughter’s personal gym equipment in a series of Instagram Stories earlier in January — Olympia also has an ear for music, as evidenced by her incredible piano playing.
“She likes tennis, but I don’t know. Honestly, she likes playing piano,” the fashion designer told Jimmy Kimmel during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last November. “When she was in my belly, I played a lot of piano music.”
“And she’s teaching me! Like, I’m not even kidding,” the tennis pro replied when Kimmel asked if Olympia was taking piano lessons. “I have a baby Mozart, [but] of course every parent thinks they have like, a baby Beethoven or whatever.”