Tom Degun: Up close and personal with the world’s fastest man
By Tom Degun - 21 July 2009
Seeing the iconic Usain Bolt for the first time is an experience that I will not soon forget. The fastest man on the planet was ironically five minutes late today for the 11:00am press conference in London to publicise his appearance in the Aviva London Grand Prix on Friday, but that did not appear to bother the assembled media in the slightest. On the contrary, there was a clear buzz of excitement when it was announced that the triple Olympic gold medallist was making his way to the room.
Having never encountered an athlete approaching Bolt’s calibre, I was hugely excited as the room fell deathly quiet and all heads turned backwards towards the door. As I too turned, I caught my first sight of the great man.
Bolt strolled lazily through the crowd but still effortlessly seemed to emit an aura of greatness that perhaps only comes with being a sporting superstar. I felt as if I had just encountered royalty. The first thing I noticed about Bolt - following the jolt of excitement I felt at first seeing him - was that he was extremely tall and towered above everyone around him which only acted to increase his majesty.
I quickly realised that the Jamaican was a very relaxed individual.
Bolt looked very casual in a black polo shirt and jeans and his expression, as he found his seat, was one of boredom rather than nerves at facing the assembled media. As his great feats were listed and admiring looks were cast upon him, Bolt appeared as though he would rather be at home sleeping than answering questions on his undoubted greatness. As he began to speak, his low, deep voice echoed clearly around the room and grabbed the immediate attention of everyone in it.
Bolt, I thought, was the complete package. He was tall and dark, he walked and spoke with authority and his credentials as a sprinter are unparalleled. The only thing in Bolt’s appearance that betrayed his tender aged of 22 were his eyes which innocently darted around the rooms like those of an impatient child. Bolt is seemingly far more at home on the track destroying his rivals than he is in front of a room packed with journalists.
As Bolt began to answer questions, I became quickly aware that he was a rather humorous person. He mentioned how his beloved Manchester United were “the greatest team in the world” but added that he will not be leaving athletics for football anytime soon. “I’m definitely not a striker” he explained, “I’m not too bad in midfield or defence but I’m no striker”.
When hearing from Bolt in person, one becomes aware of his supreme self-confidence. Bolt laughed heartily when one journalist asked if he was running scared of rival sprinter Tyson Gay and it was clear he was genuinely amused. Bolt, you realise after listening to him, fears no one and after smashing the 100 and 200 metres world records at the Beijing Olympics, this is hardly surprising.
Bolt talks about himself not with arrogance, but with the confidence that comes from being a great champion. While he respects his rivals, he does not fear them and concentrates only on his own form. He spoke of his hopes to run the 100 metres in a time of 9.54sec and when you hear it come from his own mouth, he makes you believe that he may go on to achieve the impossible. As I sat there looking at Bolt and feeling his self-confidence radiating out of him, I knew that there was only one man that I would be betting on when the Jamaican is in the blocks.
Following the press conference, I knew I would regret it if I did not at least shake the hand of the superstar who I had just gained a renewed admiration for. I walked nervously up to Bolt - realising just how big he is when you are standing right beside him - and asked if we could take a picture together in the “Usain Bolt pose”.
He smiled kindly at me and said it would be no problem at all. After the flash went off, I gratefully shook the enormous hand of Usain Bolt. I knew that I had just gained a fantastic souvenir that would always remind me of my encounter with the world’s fastest man.
Tom Degun recently gradudated with a first-class degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Bedfordshire
An awso picture brome report and i like the
By lukeb degun
21 July 2009 at 18:04pm
wikid man give me a mention yh jokes coooll
By Jamie bradbourn
21 July 2009 at 18:34pm
You are a good writer.
By ODayne Richards
22 July 2009 at 00:19am
Average at best
By Johnny Adams
22 July 2009 at 15:33pm
A fantastic read and very well written
By Sam Drake
22 July 2009 at 22:10pm
A very entertaining and well written article, good luck in your career!
By Rhiannon Harris
23 July 2009 at 11:38am
Any chance these are your mates?
29 July 2009 at 15:03pm
Now THAT was an experience that I am sure you will always treasure! Good for you, bro.
By Jomo Ekpebu
11 August 2009 at 13:27pm
Quality, well written article Douglas.
18 August 2009 at 12:40pm