Usain Bolt’s parents enjoy vacation in Toronto
Usain Bolt is outgoing and accessible. His easygoing parents, on the other hand, are tranquil and prefer to be out of the spotlight.
While their son was in England last week gearing up for the world championships in Beijing next month, Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt were in Toronto for a quiet vacation, which included trips to Niagara Falls and York University’s athletic stadium to take in some Pan Am track and field action.
They stuck to their plan to spend the week in Toronto while the world’s fastest man was in London competing at the Sainsbury Anniversary Games.
“This trip was scheduled and we didn’t know where Usain was going to be at the time,” said the senior Bolt on his second visit to the city. “We are here to support the Jamaican athletes and just enjoy Toronto.”
For mom, who was on her fifth trip since 2010, this is one of her favourite cities.
“I like Toronto because it’s clean and the scenery at this time of year is so beautiful,” she said.
Norman Peart, Bolt’s Jamaica-based business manager, accompanied the athlete’s parents.
He was introduced to the six-time Olympic and reigning world sprint champion 13 years ago by Margaret Lee, who was the principal at William Knibb Memorial High School at the time.
“I was working at the tax office in Montego Bay,” said Peart, who also was a student-athlete at William Knibb. “She asked if I could come and help with the track team and I told her that I left work around five in the afternoon and it would take me about 45 minutes to get to Trelawny. I turned her down, but she called again, asking if I could come and help out this one particular student who she felt had potential but was underachieving in the classroom and on the track. Being single at the time and without children, I decided to take Usain on as a project and mentor him.”
Before going ahead, Peart contacted Florida resident Alton McDonald – a former math department head who co-ordinated the school’s sports programs for nearly two decades up until 2003 – who assured him that Bolt was likeable and approachable.
“That’s all I wanted to hear,” said Peart, who is also a tax auditor. “I met Usain on a Friday evening at the school field. At the time, it was about helping him with his school work and being a mentor. Before we got started, I told him I wanted to meet his parents. I wanted to know who the head of the home was.”
It didn’t take Peart long to find out.
On his arrival at the Bolt’s residence, the athlete’s father made it very clear he was the boss.
“I was good with that and I let them know I was on board to help their son,” said Peart. “I went to Usain’s home about two to three times a week and sometimes I would pick him up from school. At other times when I arrived at his residence and he was not there as yet, his parents would ask why I was bothering with him, adding ‘this boy nah interested’.”
With the approval of Bolt’s parents, Peart arranged for him to become a professional athlete 12 years ago by signing him with Puma and they both moved to Kingston.
“We were comfortable with the decision for Usain to go to Kingston based on the way he monitored Usain and took an interest in him,” said Wellesley Bolt. “Me and my wife had already said that when Usain needed a manager, we would ask Mr. Peart to take that role.”
A Jamaica College graduate, Peart is busy charting Bolt’s course for the future.
“I am putting things in place so that when he reaches about age 35, he would be fine financially,” he said. “He’s fine right now, but you can’t take things for granted. He has several international contracts and I ensure that he makes the right investments.”
Peart said next year’s Rio Games will be Bolt’s last Olympics and the 2017 world championships in London could be his last international meeting before retirement from the sport.
“That’s the way it looks right now,” he said.
Despite being hampered by injury and competing in just two 100-metre events this season which he won, Peart is confident Bolt will be ready to defend his 100- and 200-metre titles in Beijing. Feeling discomfort in his left leg which restricted his training, Bolt pulled out of the Paris and Lausanne Diamond League meetings earlier this month.
“He has been training all along and his preparation is on schedule,” he said.
The Bolts will be in Beijing to cheer for their son. They were in China’s capital seven years ago when he set world record times of 9.69 and 19.30 secs. in the 100- and 200-metre events respectively and, with Jamaican teammates Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell, set a new world and Olympic record – 37.10 secs – in the 4×100-metre relay.
“That was the first time when I saw him run internationally outside Jamaica and I will never forget the show he put on,” said Bolt’s father. “For me, that has been the highlight of his many accomplishments.”
In addition to his six Olympic gold medals, Bolt is an eight-time world championship winner, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and the holder of the world sprint records – 9.58 and 19.19 secs.