His record-breaking runs aside, the world probably knows Usain Bolt for his pre-race antics that include the now patented “to the world” archer-like pose with one of his fingers pointed skywards.
Or his cheeky faces to cameras as the field is introduced before a big race, or even his “sweep” dance that he modified from a hugely popular Jamaican dance style.
Bolt on Friday disclosed that his gimmicks simply help him release the pressure on him and win.
In an exclusive interview - his first television interview in Africa - with NTV on Friday, the world’s fastest man disclosed that his showmanship helps him focus on the races ahead.
“I do it because it helps me forget about the race and worry little about if I will get the start right. It just gets my mind away from thinking about the race, because thinking about the race makes me nervous,” Bolt said in the interview in Nairobi on Friday at the start of his African tour.
The world’s fastest man also made it clear that he wants to run even faster.
“My main goal is to become a legend. I have to dominate (sprint running) year after year and break more records,” the owner of the 100m and 200m world record said a few hours after arriving for a four-day tour in support of the Zeitz Foundation, a recently formed non-government organisation supporting sustainable use of the environment.
Bolt broke his own 100m and 200m records he had set at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games with phenomenal times of 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds to establish himself as the undisputed king of sprint running.
The 23-year-old Jamiacan said he had been around at the top level for just two years and he intended to run for many more years to truly achieve greatness in the sport.
Several scientists have said that man was capable of running even faster and a lowering of the record by Bolt is not inconceivable.
Bolt declined to say what races he will compete in when the new season starts, only saying: “I do not make decisions where and when I run. It is up to my coach. He has made me from being injured to the great sprinter I am.”
The sprinter landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport early yesterday morning accompanied by former 110m hurdle record holder, Welshman Collins Jackson, and Zeitz Foundation owner and founder, Jochen Zeitz.
The two sports stars, who are global ambassadors for the foundation, were quietly ushered into one of the airport’s VIP lounges with only selected journalists, including the Nation Media Group team, allowed to capture their arrival.
A battery of other journalists hoping for an interview were left disappointed as Bolt was quickly guided to his car and driven to a city hotel under security.
He later appeared at a press conference during the launch of Zietz Foundation’s “Long Run” initiative in Kenya.
“I know we appeal to the young and I want us to give one voice to the younger generation and pass the message on. We want to make the world a better place,” Bolt said.
Zeitz, who is also the chairman and chief executive officer of Germany-based giant sports apparel company, Puma, said the foundation wanted to do conservation from a commercial perspective.
“I have established the Zeitz Foundation to support creative and innovative enterprises. Sustainability does not need to come at the sacrifice of economic prosperity. Through projects that balance conservation, community, culture and commerce, I hope to encourage a new model for sustainable development,” Zeitz said.
The foundation has set up a presence in Brazil, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand, Sweden and Namibia. Bolt is scheduled to visit Segera in Laikipia today and tomorrow where Zeitz Foundation will run its programme in Kenya.
“This is my first time in Kenya and am looking forward to seeing the animals. I am excited and also worried,” Bolt said with mirth in his eyes.