Usain Bolt’s Coach Calls Out Track Sport for Not Capitalizing on Bolt Comparing to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods’ Impact: “Continue to Miss the Boat”

Published 06/02/2022, 8:00 AM EDT
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men’s 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The biggest star in track and field was undoubtedly Usain Bolt. Whether the world knew anything about the sport or not everyone knew the name Usain Bolt. However, even with Bolt dominating headlines for his over-a-decade-long career, track and field remains an unpopular sport outside the Olympics.

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And perhaps, Bolt’s popularity could have been utilized better by the sport to launch itself into the mainstream. Coach, Glen Mills, the man behind Bolt’s countless achievements, has a similar opinion.

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Coach Mills talks about star-driven sports

When an athlete performs leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors, it’s natural that their popularity shoots beyond that of the whole sport. We have seen this happen many times in history, with Michael Jordan and basketball, Tiger Woods and golf, and especially with Usain Bolt and track. Often, the star’s fame lends to the popularization of the sport itself as well.

Glen Mills thinks that there was a lot of potential with Bolt’s stardom that wasn’t realized. “One of the things I will lament is that both locally and internationally, with a star performer of Bolt’s level, the sport did not capitalize on it in the way it should,” Mills told the Jamaica Observer.

He commented on how other sports benefitted from their superstars and continue to do so. “When I look at the impact of the advent of Tiger Woods, it’s clear that golf made the most of his popularity. You look at what the NBA became after Michael Jordan and how they have grown with their superstars, and we could go on,” he added.

It has been a long debate on how track and field continues to miss out on their viewership. Many international events by World Athletics, are not even televised. One theory behind this unpopularity is that the sport hasn’t solidified its identity as an amateur, professional or Olympic sport.

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Mills claimed, “Track and field in its semi-amateurism continue to miss the boat and it is time for track and field to become a fully professional sport.” 

Usain Bolt, his impact and popularity

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Bolt has a total of eight Olympic and eleven World Championships gold medals. Moreover, he has set unbeatable world records in the 100m and 200m, which gave him the moniker of the Fastest Man Alive. His legacy lies not just in his medal tally, but also in his ability to inspire countless youngsters.

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 27: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after winning gold in the Men’s 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Bolt has been consistently faster than his competitors. His 6 foot 5 inches height put him at a disadvantage of a slow start. However, he had the upper hand later on in the race, and he used it to its full potential. He dominated on the track, and the world watched him, mesmerized. He is the only athlete to achieve the triple in three consecutive Olympics.

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Bolt was not only a fantastic sprinter, but his personality made the sport joyful. His dance routines after his races and his signature pose, “the Lightning Bolt” became famous in popular culture. He knew how to play the audience, and his little shows made him incredibly likable. If utilized effectively, Bolt’s popularity could have had many long-term advantages for the presentation and viewership of track and field.

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Mansi Jain

377 articles

Mansi Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from the University of Delhi and has also previously interned for HT Media. She is always one mention of Yuzuru Hanyu away from delivering an hour-long speech about the athlete's legacy.

Edited By: Simar Singh Wadhwa

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