Bolt in Rio: ‘This will be my last Olympics. … I’m excited now that it’s getting closer’

By Stephen Wade


(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

RIO DE JANEIRO _ Usain Bolt walked into a small gym at the base of Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira favela on Thursday, took three shots on the basketball court _ at least one from 3-point range _ and made all three.

That bodes well for next year’s Olympics, where the six-time gold-medal sprinter will try to add three more in Rio. He won three in 2008 in Beijing and three more in London in 2012.

“This will be my last Olympics, but I am definitely looking forward to it,” Bolt said, ushered away quickly into black car. “I’m excited now that it’s getting closer. I’m looking forward to being here and competing. Yes definitely.”

Bolt is in Rio to promote an event over the weekend, and made a 30-minute visit to the Mangueira sports complex. Many couldn’t believe it when they were told Bolt _ the world’s fastest man _ was dropping by a slum that’s visible from Rio’s famous Maracana stadium.

Leaving the basketball court, Bolt posed for selfies, took his own video and even ran a 20-meter race on the track with several young girls. A few kids at the complex’s small football field climbed a chain link fence to have a look.

Bolt seemed to enjoy himself, raised his arms a few times in mock gestures of triumph and took time to look at the selfies of others.

“It was really great,” said Camile Vitoria Santana Melo, a 12-year-old who ran alongside Bolt. “I wasn’t expecting it. I came here today to practice. I was very happy, very excited when I saw him.”

There are more than 1,000 favelas in Rio. Many are lawless tin and cinderblock settlements dug in atop the city’s hills, home to Rio’s poor and much of its crime.

“This is going to a learning moment for me in the future,” Camile added, dressed in green shorts and a white top. “Wow, it was great. I would like to speak to him more, chat longer.”


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