“A little fresh, different from Jamaica”

NOS Sports

  • Edwin Cornelison

    NOS Sport Reporter

  • Edwin Cornelison

    NOS Sport Reporter

Sprint Bolt icon visits Dutch youth: ‘Children’s education is the most important’

For the photographers, Usain Bolt is taking his starting position, only to stand up a bit. “Old man,” he says, laughing. As the world record holder in the 100 and 200 metres, Bolt is still known as the fastest man on earth. But the 36-year-old Jamaican has since retired from athletics and is now using part of his time to get kids to exercise.

That is why Bolt has come to Utrecht, where, on the initiative of the Youth Fund for Sports and Culture, funds are raised for children who are not well off at home and therefore cannot afford the contribution of a sports association.

“So you’ve been talking about two or three kids in a class in recent years,” says Monique Max, director of the Youth Fund. “And these days there are more and more, because of inflation and rising energy costs.” The fund exists to help financially needy families.

Previously, not everyone knew where to find the Youth Fund for support. “There is often shame on the part of parents, who do not dare to ask for help. Everyone wants to be able to do what they want. Moreover, not many people knew that such help was available.” Bolt’s arrival in Utrecht should change that.

I miss the competition, but now the pressure is faint and I can relax more.

Usain Bolt

When the eight-time Olympic champion approaches, relaxed gait, he wears a black and white hoodie, with a hoodie. The canteen manager just served him a home-cooked meal, she says, not without pride. “I was told he likes spicy Jamaican food. But I don’t like rice and beans. So I had a delicious chicken marinated in pasta and fresh vegetables,” he said. It was great, it was good food. “

She watches with amusement as Bolt moves along the Overvecht athletics track. “He’s got that walk that Jamaicans have more. Like: reggae on your ears and we’re slowly moving to the beach. Then you wouldn’t say he’s the fastest guy in the world. That’s really cool.”

“My life is more interesting now”

Bolt remains the sporting legend, having run his last race five years ago. Jamaican life now looks very different. “I’m busier than ever. I travel a lot. At home I have three kids, and that also takes a lot of work. And I’m producing music. It’s a new chapter. My life is more exciting now.”

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Sure, an icon like Bolt is constantly reminded of his past. “I do not mind. Trace and scrutinize It made me what I am. “And while he’s now enjoying his freedom, there are definitely things he’s missing.” I miss the competition. I noticed this when I watched the world championships. But on the other hand, the stress has now stopped and I can relax more.”

A role in athletics

He is still interested in his sport. In fact, he loves to play a role in it. “Personally, I am still waiting for the president of the IAAF to give me a chance. I know the impact it has had on athletics, and I can still help the sport move forward. Visiting countries, talking to children, encouraging them to exercise, giving clinics to improve it. I would like to do it” .

Bolt also occupies such a role on a cloudy afternoon in Utrecht that a group of children – most of whom are already active in athletics clubs – are ready to take on him. He has since taken off the hoodie. Bolt trembles and laughs. “It’s a bit cold. I was expecting it to happen in Europe. This is very different from Jamaica.”

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He does not need to convince his young opponents of the importance of sports. Enthusiastically, Bolt’s thoughts go back to his childhood. “I played many different sports when I grew up in Jamaica. We played soccer in the streets with whatever we encountered. Sometimes we would pick oranges from trees and play soccer with them. We always found a way to exercise.”

financial worries

So Bolt would like to see children from families with financial problems who are able to participate in sports. “They develop all kinds of skills and learn how to deal with winning and losing. Sport is very important.”

Bolt is now at the starting line, the group of children directly behind him. From the speakers: three, two, one. he goes!’. The fastest man on earth leaves the victory to twelve-year-old Samuel Mulder. He can’t believe his luck. “Hilarious. I really like it. I couldn’t believe it.”

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