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Usain Bolt Tries to Race into History – Again

Usain Bolt, the Jamaican track superstar who ran his way into spectator’s hearts and onto their television sets during last summer’s 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, has announced he wants to become the first track star to earn $10 million a year in prize money, appearance fees and endorsements.

Bolt, 22, was the winner of three gold medals in Beijing in the 100, 200 and 4x100 meter relay. Each race was also a world record, as Bolt put up times of 9.69 seconds at 100 meters, 19.30 at 200, and 37.10 in the 4x100 relay.

As reported by the New York Times, Bolt’s London-based agent, Ricky Simms, said that track stars do not earn as much as top stars in more visible professional sports, such as soccer and golf.

“David Beckham, Tiger Woods, he’s go to look at that being his target,” Simms said.

Bolt, has already signed a $1.5 million a year contract with the shoe company Puma, and has endorsements for Gatorade and Digicel, a Caribbean mobile phone company. Cummulatively, Bolt’s income could rise above $3 million for 2009.

Bolt is not satisfied with this amount, however. Bolt will begin asking for $200,000 in race performance fees, which is double that of what some other stars earn.

“My main goal is to be a legend in my sport,” Bolt said.

In order to do so, Bolt knows that he needs to continue putting up top performances and times.

Sponsor appearances, post-Olympic celebrating and other distractions prevented Bolt from staying on track with his early-season training. He ran a slow 9.93 wind-aided 100 last month in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and left the competition “infuriated.”

“You have to stay on top every year. You can’t be fast this season and the next two not be there,” Bolt said. “I didn’t feel like myself.”

After returning home, Bolt has decided that his drive will continue to push himself to the edge of human performance. Breaking he 9.5 second barrier in the 100 is a goal Bolt’s coaches have begun to talk about. (New York Times)

Bolt understands that he will now be training and racing under far greater pressure and scrutiny since he has become a world phenomenon and star.

Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing has recently come under attack since he was pictured at a party inhaling from a marijuana pipe. Phelps has since been placed under a three month competition suspension and the loss of a commercial deal with Kellog.

“That was stupid,” Bolt said of Phelp’s behavior. Bolt had recently admitted to a German newspaper that as a child, he too had experimented with marijuana, but hopes he can provide a better example for young children and other athletes. (Winnipeg Free Press)

“There is a responsibility for me to help the sport,” Bolt said. “It’s no problem. I will have fun all the time. It’s just going to be me being me.” (New York Times)