Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive, but his career will have to come to an end eventually. That end could have come on Friday night, with the men’s 4x100m race at the Rio Olympics. The 29-year-old Bolt, who has nine Olympic gold medals to his name, has been talking about retiring since at least 2013, but there have been signs that he might consider running in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Here’s a look at what Bolt has said about retirement and his post-running plans.
1. Bolt Said in 2013 That He Wants to Retire After the Rio Olympics, but Still Wants to Run in 2017
Since at least 2013, Bolt has publicly said that the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be his last games. He first said he was planning retirement right after Rio, but he will said he will still participate in the 2017 track season.
“I am definitely reconsidering [retiring after 2016]. I think my fans have voiced their concern about me retiring,” Bolt told the U.K. Press Association. “They think I should carry on and so do my sponsors. I have discussed it with my coach and he says it is possible. We will see what happens but it’s on the cards that I will extend it by one more year.”
Bolt would be almost 34 by the time Tokyo rolls around. In 2013, Bolt said that if he won at the Rio Olympics, he would have accomplished everything he set out to do. Bolt won the 100m and 200m individual sprints in Rio, becoming the first person ever to win three track medals in at least one event. He is also the only person ever to win consecutive medals in the two events. Bolt and the Jamaican team also won Gold in the 4x100m relay.
2. Bolt’s Coach, Glen Mills, Doesn’t Want Bolt to Think More Than a Year Ahead
In July, Bolt Rio2016.com that his coach, Glen Mills, thinks he could still run at the 2020 Games.
“My coach always says ‘Usain you can always go on to the 2020 Olympics if you want.’ So this is why he tells me to stop talking about retirement and just take it a year at a time,” Bolt said.
In the same interview, Bolt said that fans often tell him that the sport needs him, but he doesn’t think that way. “There are a lot of athletes stepping up,” he said.
3. Bolt Wanted to Go Out by Breaking His 200m World Record
Bolt found a way to be disappointed when winning a gold medal. In Rio, he failed to break his own 200m world record, finishing the race in 19.78 seconds. Any other athlete would have loved that result, especially since silver medalist Andre De Grasse finished far behind him in 20.02 seconds. Bolt set the world record in 2009 with a 19.19-second run. That year, he also set the 100m record at 9.58.
“I wanted to run a faster time,” Bolt told the Independent. “I knew it was going to be hard to break the record, but when I came out of the corner my legs decided, ‘Listen, we’re not going to go any faster’. I wasn’t fully happy, but I’m happy that I got the gold medal.”
Even with Bolt competing at the World Championships in London next year, it’s likely the last time he will ever run the 200m. He only plans on running in the 100m and 4x100m next year.
4. Puma Says They Will Still Continue to Sponsor Bolt Even After Retirement
Bolt is the biggest star that Puma has an endorsement deal with and it will not end when Bolt ends.
“Usain will mean just as much to us whether he continues sprinting or not,” Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden told the Wall Street Journal in July. He decides for himself how long he wants to compete.”
Bolt wouldn’t be the first athlete to remain with a brand even after retirement. The most famous example is Nike’s relationship with Michael Jordan, which continues 13 years after his retirement. The Jordan Brand earned $2.8 billion in revenue, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Puma and Bolt have a relationship dating back to 2001, when he was only 15. Since then, he’s become an 11-time World Champion and now has nine Olympic gold medals.
5. Bolt Believes He Proved to the World What Track Stars Can do Without Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Bolt has never been suspended for doping during his career. When he retires, one of his legacies will be proving that you can become the fastest man alive without using PEDs.
“I’ve proven to the world you can do it clean. I’ve made the sport exciting, made people want to watch it, I’ve put the sport on a different level,” Bolt told the Independent in Rio.
Back in 2013, after Jamaica’s Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay of the U.S. failed doping tests, Bolt told the Independent that he is clean.
“I was made to inspire people and made to run. I was given a gift and that’s what I do. I know I’m clean so I’m just going to continue running and using my talent,” he said at the time.
When a complete ban of Russian athletes at the Rio games was being considered, Bolt told the British media that he was in support of it.
“If they feel like banning the whole team is the right action, then I am all for it,” Bolt said. “Rules are rules and doping violations in track and field are getting really bad, so thumbs up.”
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