Jamaica Gleaner / LONDON, England:
Legendary Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey says she is looking to return to the sport and believes Usain Bolt is calling time on his career at the end of next season simply because he has had enough of life as a competitive athlete.
The evergreen sprinter told The Gleaner that she would welcome the opportunity to get involved in coaching or to play an ambassadorial role in advancing and promoting the sport.
Ottey, who won three silver and six bronze medals at the Olympic Games, enjoyed a long career, which saw her setting several records, including most appearances by a track and field athlete at the Olympic Games (seven) with her 14 medals being the most at the World Championships.
“I am in Switzerland, I just moved there two years ago. At the moment, I am not doing anything, but I want to get back involved in the sport. A coach, an ambassador? That is something I would do, but I will see where the opportunity presents itself,” she told The Gleaner on the red carpet for Bolt’s I am Bolt premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London last night.
SHECANRELATE Ottey, 56, who went on to represent Slovenia between 2002 and 2012, added that she can relate to Bolt’s weariness, while sharing her own thoughts on the 100m and 200m world record holder.
“I think he’s had enough. He has won everything and I mean, what else is there to do? But whatever he does in the future, I know he will be successful. I think he will always put his best forward every time,” said Ottey.
“I know what he is going through. I got a bit tired. In the beginning, I was just going out there to run to see how fast I could run and I got to the point where I said I was satisfied and it was time to walk off,” added Ottey, who anchored Slovenia’s 4x100m relay team at the 2012 European Championships at the age of 52.
“For me, just to watch him run is amazing. It’s a pity he has to retire soon, but I am very thankful and very grateful to Usain, he is a legend.”
Ottey, who shared that she plans to travel to Jamaica for next year’s Boys and Girls Athletics Championships noted that she was convinced of Bolt’s special talent when she saw him compete at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, where he won gold in the 200m.
“When he was about 15, I saw him at the Junior World Championships, I thought to myself that this is a star. People tend to forget about his earlier years and they probably recognised him in 2008, but Usain was already born, he was a champion from before that,” said Ottey.
– AndrÈ Lowe
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