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'Relish a good rivalry - it helps push you harder,' says Usain Bolt.
The secrets of my success: Usain Bolt
By Chris Hall
14th August 2010
'Control your aggression.'
In sport, if you're too aggressive, you don't know how it'll end. I'm a calm, laid-back person,' said Usain Bolt.
Born in Trelawny, Jamaica, Usain Bolt, 23, is the world's fastest man, holding the world records for the 100m, 200m and, with his team-mates, the 4x100m relay. As a child, his favoured sports were cricket and football, his pace helping him excel as a bowler and a winger.
True stardom came at the 2008 Olympics, when he became the first sprinter since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win three gold medals at one Games. The following year he broke his own records at the World Championships in Berlin, setting astonishing times of 9.58 and 19.19 seconds in the 100m and 200m respectively.
Be prepared to make sacrifices.
When I was starting out I had to stay at home and maintain my focus rather than going out with my friends. When you're training as hard as you can, you have to try to get your rest in the evenings. It was hard saying, 'I'm going to stay in' while my friends were going to clubs such as Quad or Fiction in Kingston. But you have to do it. I got my own back, though - when I'm not racing I go back there, but now I know the DJs and they let me mess around on the decks at the end of the night.
The biggest motivator in the world is the fear of losing.
I don't want to lose; I'm very competitive. My greatest fear as a professional athlete - in fact, the only fear I've ever had when racing - is the fear of losing. It's always there, and the only way you get over it is by focusing and by working harder and training harder than anyone else.
It's important to have role models.
When I was younger mine were Michael Johnson and Don Quarrie. Johnson was pretty much the best runner in the world, particularly at the 200m - my favourite event - and Quarrie was one of the best Jamaican sprinters in history, so I just wanted to be like them. I still have people I look up to even now. At the moment it's Kevin Durant, the basketball player (he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder). Kevin is a good leader; he's very strong and very determined. Whatever he does, whether he's tired or injured, he works through it, pushes on and challenges his team-mates to do their best.
Learn to be street-smart.
Education is important, but being street-smart is just as useful - to my mind it's what gives me an edge. And it's something that's always come naturally to me. There are a lot of people out there, and to be the best you have to make the most of every advantage. It's about experience, and I've found travelling a lot has really helped.
You need the right people around you.
Building my success has been fairly simple, to be honest, because I have the best team. Yes, I try hard at what I do, but without them it wouldn't work. My family, my friends, my coach - they've all helped me to succeed. In particular, my parents were really supportive. They made sure I got to track meetings and I had everything I needed to train. At the same time, they made sure I trained. You knew what would happen if you didn't behave - my dad was very strict and a real disciplinarian. We feared our dad. He's big, and when we were small he instilled this fear in us.
Enjoy whatever you do.
The best advice I was ever given was to always enjoy the sport. My coach told me that when I was starting out. If you enjoy what you do you can really put your heart into it.
No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement.
Getting a good start in sprinting is very important, and it's something that's hard for me because I'm tall (6ft 5in). It doesn't come naturally, so I've had to practise a lot. Being tall really helps when I get going, as I've got a long stride, but it's not ideal for starting. It took me a while, but I finally got there, and now my start's a lot better.
Control your aggression.
In sport, if you're too aggressive, you don't know how it'll end. Although I'm still competitive on the track, I don't believe in aggression - I don't take those kinds of risks. I'm not that kind of guy. I'm a calm, laid-back person; I prefer to just wait to see what will happen. I don't believe in gambling with any part of my life, and I think that aggression is a gamble.
Never write anyone off.
I can't think of anyone I admire more than my coach, Glen Mills, and what he does that's so great is that he gives everyone a chance. Whereas other people might say, 'You're not going to make it,' he makes sure that everyone has the best chance to succeed. He puts in a lot of effort and work for everyone he coaches and that's the most admirable thing I can think of.
Don't believe your own hype.
My proudest moment was the day I won the 200m gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Jamaica. I was just 15, which made me the youngest world junior gold medallist ever. However, as soon as it was done, it was done. I didn't think about the world record, I didn't wake up and think, 'I'm the fastest man in the world', or anything like that. I got straight back to training.
Make sure your money works for you.
I think regardless of what you do, it's most important to invest wisely. If you don't know what you're doing then hire someone who does. I have a financial adviser, and he and my manager make sure everything's OK. Having said that, I do like to treat myself when I win - and I buy cars in particular. I bought a BMW back in 2008, and last year I bought myself a Nissan Skyline. I crashed the BMW, but I've still got the Skyline.
Relish a good rivalry - it helps push you harder.
I don't really see myself as having big rivals nowadays - although there are a couple of guys out there who are getting close - but there was a guy at high school who beat me in the first year we were together. The next year, I worked harder than ever before.