For professional athletes, winning prize money isn’t the only source of income that comes their way. Instead, sponsors play a major role in offering a livelihood to athletes. When it comes to track and field, the biggest name sponsors are always eager to collaborate with is undoubtedly Usain Bolt. The world’s fastest man has been a steady face of apparel giant Puma’s advertisements since 2002, but it seems like Fred Kerley is also hoping to get on the same train.

Only weeks ago, Kerley claimed that Bolt’s 100m sprint world record would soon fall to him. While that plan didn’t work out well, Kerley seems to be eyeing to match the Jamaican in other domains. While Nike or Adidas have always been the choice of gear for American runners, Kerley has eyes for a European giant instead.

Fred Kerley’s latest unprecedented attempt to branch out


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A recent post on X by Ctius Mag founded Chris Chavez reported that Kerely will be parting ways with his sponsor ASIC after a year of working together. “Just heard back from a spokesperson for ASICS after Fred Kerley’s appearance at the New York City Grand Prix wearing competitor spikes,” reports Chavez’s post. The decision was made official by a statement by ASICS as well: “ASICS and Fred Kerley have mutually parted ways and he is no longer an ASICS sponsored athlete. We wish him the best in his career.

The three-time world champion runner Kerley joined hands with ASICS last year after his deal with Nike expired. ASICS has always been a name that was popular with distance runners. However, in recent times, sprinters have also become fond of ASICS spikes, and Kerley looked like the latest name to put his eggs in the ASICS basket. While the deal drew much attention from track fans, it looks like the sprinter and the apparel manufacturers have run into a roadblock.

Kerley was also slated to run in the men’s 100m race at the NYC Grad Prix. However, during the warmups, Fred was observed to slip twice from his starting block, which evidently irked him enough to decide to pull out of the tournament. His disappointment with the event organizers couldn’t be kept hidden and the Olympic medalist was “furious“.

What’s next for Kerley?

The forfeit adds to the long list of tournaments that Kerley has opted out of this year, including the Oslo and Stockholm Diamond Leagues. With the Olympic Trials looming at the end of the month, this would probably be the right time for Fred to focus on last-minute preparations. Despite the coming weeks being the last lap for the Olympics, Fred is yet to make his next move official. However, speculation was given a boost after Kerley later shared a video of himself training in Puma spikes.

On the other hand, Puma also hasn’t issued an official statement announcing Kerley’s signing. However, considering how Fred Kerley’s move to ASICS, which came right after Marcell Jacobs’ signing, was considered a significant move for the manufacturer of the spikes, the dust might need more time to settle.

Troubles with sponsors can make or break athletes, and Usain Bolt himself can attest to that.

A wobbly start to Bolt’s sponsorship deal

Puma signed the Jamaican icon back in 2002 when he was still a young runner awaiting his shot to greatness. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Bolt didn’t perform well, and that led Puma’s head honchos to consider letting him go. The whole issue was revealed in 2013 by Puma’s CEO Jochen Zeitz in an interview with CNBC. “Well, he’s a young guy, but he doesn’t really want to train as a hard as he should. He has all the potential but he does get injured. If he doesn’t practice he’s never going to be great,” Zeitz said was the general perception about Usain at Puma.

However, the decision to retain him came as a special move from the higher levels of the brand, and Bolt returned the favor by winning a total of 8 gold medals in the next three Olympic Games. Bolt won all of his Olympic golds wearing Puma spikes, solidifying the brand as one of the top choices for the world’s leading sprinting stars.


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Puma never left Bolt’s side, and Fred can bank on a similar experience

On the other hand, Puma’s support of Bolt remained unwavering even when the former world champion faced tumultuous financial problems. When Usain’s ambitious project Bolt Mobility tanked, Puma wasn’t even considering ditching him from its roster. Moreover, when news broke of Bolt being the target of a scam, which siphoned off $12 million from his retirement fund, Puma made sure the brand was seen standing firm in his corner to help him navigate the financial fiasco without dealing with too many blows.

Puma’s decision to continue sponsoring Bolt despite his retirement has faced heavy criticism, however, it has always seemed that the top brass refuse to break the collaboration that started almost two decades ago, and saw both Usain and Puma grow together.


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Puma is a brand that’s known for giving rising stars the platform to shine. In 2022, the brand signed Abby Steiner, winner of the US Outdoor Championship women’s 200m race of that year. “Abby Steiner is one of the most exciting upcoming stars in track and field,” said a spokesperson of Puma referring to the signing of the NCAA record holder in the 200m sprint.

With Kerley being spotted wearing Puma spikes at the New York Grand Prix, it remains to be seen if he follows Bolt’s legacy and receives backing from the same camp that stood firm in the corner of the Jamaican legend for years, even after the latter retires from professional running.