So it has been announced that Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history, the living legend of track and field, has once again re-signed with Puma until after the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Bolt, the six-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time World Championship gold medalist, has been with Puma since he was 16 years old and they stuck with him through the disappointments of Athens in 2004 and Helsinki in 2005.
It was in 2007 that Bolt began to show what he was capable of when he copped a pair of silver medals in Osaka – in the 200 metres behind a certain Tyson Gay, and as a member of Jamaica’s relay squad. In hindsight that year was the period of transition for Bolt and Jamaica.
In 2007, Asafa Powell, the 100-metre world record holder, was the man carrying the torch for Jamaica. He had gone into Japan as the favourite to bring home gold in the blue riband event and bring glory to Jamaica, glory that was denied in 2004 when he was also favoured but finished a disappointing fifth in the 100-metre finals.
There was no expectation from Bolt, who had bombed in Athens and finished last Helsinki after suffering a hamstring injury in the finals of the 200m and then also endured incredibly hostile backlash from his home country. As it was Asafa ‘panicked’ and finished third in the 100m and Bolt stepped up and finished second in the deuce. It was as if the gods were telling us that Bolt had begun to surpass Asafa and in 2008 he finally did.
But Bolt didn’t just surpass Asafa in 2008, he blew by him; breaking his world record in New York and then going into Beijing and breaking it again in dramatic fashion beating his chest and celebrating from 20 metres out. What Bolt has done since then, not even Puma could have imagined; nothing but gold medals and world records. The only glitch was Bolt’s false start in Daegu, which denied him the chance to accomplish three straight triples.
In winning and racking up gold medals and world records, Bolt has brought Puma unprecedented levels of exposure. He has transcended sport and social barriers across the world. Commentators in football, basketball, cricket, American football, have all used Bolt as a reference to speed. Bolt has been in demand right across the globe, doing interviews on radio stations all over Europe and the United States, made guest appearances with some of the world’s biggest sports stars and has signed deals with Regupol, Hublot, Gatorade, Samsung, Soul Electronics, Digicel, Nissan, Virgin, Visa, and Xfinity. Through all this he has worn the Puma logo and is known as a Puma athlete.
In 2010, Bolt signed what was then the richest deal in track and field history worth an estimated US$9 million a year. Since then, he has won five world championship gold medals and three more Olympic gold medals. He has also steered clear of any major controversy and continues to be adored globally. It’s safe to say then that Puma had to break the bank to keep him.