This way to my place: Usain Bolt opens club and restaurant Tracks and Records in Jamaica
Usain Bolt's appetite for medals and fame is now enhanced by his very own eatery
Simon Turnbull - Kingston
Sunday 24 March 2013
Inside the foyer at Tracks and Records, the digits frozen in time spoke for themselves: 9.58 and 19.19. They were mounted on mock trackside clocks, with the legends "World Championships Berlin 2009", "100m WR" and "200m WR" accompanying them.
Lest there be any mistake, this was actually Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, to give the establishment the full title displayed on the wall outside, complete with a logo of the world's fastest man pulling his trademark "To Di World" pose. Inside was a spacious bar and eatery, with lights dimmed and sporting action coming at you from a dozen television screens.
In one corner Papiss Cissé was heading a goal for Newcastle United. In another Andy Murray was playing a tennis match somewhere. On the screen in the far corner the Lightning Bolt was striking in the Olympic 100 metres final in London, taming Yohan "The Beast" Blake in the process.
On our table there was branded "Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records scotch pepper sauce" and "Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records reggae sauce". Such are the dressings of success, the condiment trappings that come with running the 100m in 9.58sec and the 200m in 19.19sec. And with being one of the most celebrated figures on Planet Earth.
"We actually have three in one," said Nick Taylor, the general manager of this suitably chilled-out Bolt hole, which has regular live reggae nights. "It's a joint venture; we have a casino adjoining us and a nightclub called Fiction adjoining that.
"Yes, Usain does come to the nightclub. He enjoys it. He's been to the casino too.
"We've been open two years at Tracks and Records and we've had people from all over – China, India, far away. The tourists who come to Ocho Rios on the north coast make a day trip to Kingston, visit the Bob Marley Museum and come here for lunch.
"So, yeah, what Usain has achieved around the world has boosted the jobs market here. I mean, he's a global brand of his own. And he represents Jamaica proudly."
Carey Dennis of the Jamaica Tourist Board nodded in agreement. "What Usain has done has helped tourism here," he said. "If you look at his effect on the world stage, he has lifted athletics. People are into athletics again, the Diamond League meets and all of that.
"In Jamaica it's the same thing. He's like our Prince Harry or Prince Charles in Jamaica right now. And tourism has certainly got a boost from him, because he trains here. He lives here.
"Years ago our best athletes would go overseas to train, but Usain lives here and trains here. So does Asafa Powell, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Yohan Blake. They are all top athletes. They are all delivering on the world stage. And they all live here.
"And because of the success of our athletics programme a lot of athletes from overseas come to Jamaica to train now. From England we've had Dwain Chambers and Christine Ohuruogu. We just signed a deal the other day with Nigeria for their athletes to come here."
All, like the tourists, naturally make the trip out to Constant Spring Road to taste the atmosphere – and the fare, yams and all – at Bolt's place. When they leave, they can stop at the gift shop by the exit and buy all the sauces, and also Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records Blue Mountain coffee.
"It's not just this place," Dennis added. "Usain has created a lot of employment around the advertising industry in Jamaica. Since he started doing his thing, around 70 per cent more commercials have been shot here, and that creates jobs for camera crews and others. Wherever the locations are going to be, people are going to get paid.
"So, yeah, Usain has done well. And the good thing about it is he parties; he mingles. I have pictures with Usain Bolt. You never see anyone walk up to Usain Bolt and be shoved away.
"He signs autographs. He's good for the sport. He's good for the country. I wish him all the best. He has good people around him and I hope they keep on guiding him properly.
"He's a good guy. You'll see him walking on the road. Other athletes will have bodyguards and entourage and stuff. He'll just walk down the road with his kitbag on his shoulder. You'll see Asafa and Shelly-Ann doing that too. They're just ordinary people. I mean, Jamaicans... we respect our stars but we aren't star-struck."
Or boss-struck. "Usain is exactly the same character that the rest of the world sees on television," Taylor said. "He's very personable. He takes time out with fans. He signs autographs. He shakes hands. He's always smiling.
"I've never once seen him lose his temper. Never. He's always smiling."