Considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain St. Leo Bolt is known as the fastest man in the world with eight Olympic gold medals, and holds the world record for the 100 meter race. After beating his own personal best, Usain Bolt has officially retired and is dedicating his life to his entrepreneurial projects and philanthropy. By leveraging his fame and achievements, Bolt works tirelessly to elevate Jamaica as a country to support the next generation of young Jamaican athletes and underprivileged youth though his namesake Usain Bolt Foundation. This year the Board of Directors at the American Friends of Jamaica has recognized Usain Bolt’s philanthropic impact and achievements for Jamaica and will be awarding Bolt with the prestigious International Humanitarian Award at their annual Hummingbird Gala in New York City.
In addition to running his charitable foundation, Bolt also has a clothing line with Puma, a line of signature watches with Hublot, a restaurant chain named ‘Tracks and Records’, and recently launched the Bolt Mobility electric scooters- an alternative to urban transportation. Expanding rapidly around the world, this dockless scooter is currently available in select cities in the US, Japan, Germany and Australia. Life after retirement hasn’t slowed down a bit for the fastest man in the world and here Resident Magazine speaks to the incredible Usain Bolt about his philanthropic and entrepreneurial endeavors and what is next on the horizon.
As you have transitioned from athlete to philanthropist tell us about the Usain Bolt Foundation and its achievements?
As I grew up during hard times, I saw how other kids who lived predominantly in the rural areas were suffering and recognized what they needed most. This is who I focused my charity towards.
I know it’s not always easy but I try to find ways and means to give back as much as possible. We’ve developed athletics and sports programs in these overlooked rural areas and built a lot of playgrounds to enhance their lives through educational and cultural development to effect a positive change.
In Jamaica we are working on better facilities. I think the young athletes are not as driven as the ones that I grew up with. That’s why I still try to keep connected to the sport to push these young athletes.
What has been your most successful project?
My contribution to the Walkers Place of Safety, an orphanage in Kingston that was destroyed by a fire, helped rebuild a state-of-the-art facility for the children.
Do you have the right resources and partnerships to achieve your goals?
It’s always good to have new partners and we work a lot with UNICEF in Jamaica who has been an integral part of helping us.
How can foreign organizations support the Usain Bolt Foundation?
It’s all about getting the commitment to figure out ways they can help. I encourage people and corporations to visit Jamaica and and see the rough times people have so they can then decide how they want to help and contribute.
How do you feel about being honored this fall at the American Friends of Jamaica Gala?
For me it’s always a pleasure when people recognize the work you I have done and all of the hard work and dedication you I have put in to building Jamaica.
How have you been received as a spokesperson for Jamaica?
People around the world, especially Jamaicans, have told me that I’ve really been a good brand for the country. When they have travelled abroad, the people they have encountered said, “Oh you’re from Usain Bolt’s country.”
What lies in your future?
Continuing my work. My goal hasn’t really changed in trying to develop my brand and help as many people as I possibly can. I have a big project coming up to bring over 500 computers to rural schools. One thing I have been privy to is that I’ve been exposed to the world, and a lot of people don’t understand how to dream big. They only know what’s in their immediate environment, but once they have access to the internet they can see what’s out there and be exposed to different things they can achieve.
What do you see is the fast track to the next phase?
I don’t rush into anything. One thing I’ve learned is that you always need to do your research and make sure everything is concrete, and take your time to process it and figure out the good and the bad. Currently, we are just working on what we have and things in the pipeline.
What advice would you give to people that you have inspired?
With the internet and Instagram I can easily communicate with my fans. I’m always happy when people message me to thank me for inspiring them to work hard. My advice is to never give up, no matter how many injuries or setbacks. Because no matter what you do, it’s not going to be an easy journey, it’s going to be tough. Throughout my track and field career, I kept on pushing and focused on trying to be as great as possible.
What motivated you to beat your own world records?
I always try to push boundaries. Growing up here, it was a small part of the world. I always set goals and it’s important to have a great team around you that has the same goals. You have to want great things for yourself. I wanted bigger things for myself and wanted to learn the sport. I never limit myself. Anything is possible. Don’t think limits. I would train harder and push. I would give my all at competitions. But now I’m officially retired.
How do you focus your energy during a competition?
It’s all about the preparation, I try to always be confident, calm and relaxed. The preparation I put behind the scenes that no one sees makes it easy for me to focus my energy.
Which athletes have really inspired you?
Many athletes have inspired me from my field such as Olympian sprinters Michael Johnson, Don Quarrie, Herb McKenley, and basketball player Kevin Garnett.
Are there any songs that inspire you?
I just love music in general, but especially reggae. I always feel the energy and vibe that would get me going and motivated.
What are your favorite things about living in Jamaica?
It’s just the people, they are very relaxed and chill. A lot of people come up to me and you never know what kind of conversation you will spark here and whom you will meet, but it’s all about the conversation.
How does your public personae differ than who you really are?
I think a lot of people see me as a showman but I’m actually very relaxed and chill and pretty lazy. But you would never guess that.
The AFJ is a registered 501 c 3 non profit organization in New York that supports tax deductible donations to fund projects and foundations in Jamaica.
Produced by Colin Thompson
Barber: Paul Tyndale
Shot on location at The AC Hotel Kingston, Jamaica