Bolt gets his track

World 100m and 200m record holder, Usain Bolt (centre), strides away from Minister of Sports Olivia Grange (left) and University of the West Indies (UWI) principal Professor Gordon Shirley (second left) during the opening ceremony for an eight-lane 400m track at the UWI Bowl yesterday.

The track, which is similar in nature and make to the track used at last year’s IAAF World Championship of Athletics in Berlin, Germany, was gifted to Bolt by German track manufacturers BSW Regupol for his outstanding achievements in Berlin and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which he set new world records in his pet events.

The track will play home to Bolt, members of his Racers Track Club, and UWI’s IAAF High Performance Centre.

World and Olympic sprint champion, Usain Bolt, is looking forward to train on the newly laid Regupol Athletic Track at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Bowl.

The track, which was officially handed over to Bolt by Germany’s BSW Regupol Sports

Floors during a colourful ceremony at the Bowl yesterday, will see Bolt and other members of the Racers Track Club, as well as other local athletes, using the facility to prepare for local and international meets.

“The fact that this is the exact replica of the Regupol track that was laid in Berlin for last year’s IAAF World Championships, it should be good to train on,” said Bolt during the ceremony, which was attended by a number of local and overseas dignitaries, IAAF and FIFA officials, and track and field enthusiasts.

“The dream of Racers Track Club and its athletes is to be world class and this should assist us to achieve our goals,” he added.

The track, which took approximately six months to complete, was donated in recognition of Bolt’s outstanding achievements over the past two years – World records in the 100m and 200m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the World Championships.

The managers of Regupol, one of the world’s leading brand names in all-weather tracks, were impressed by Bolt’s performances and realising that he trains mainly on grass, offered to help him set up a training base of world class stature.

“I have been in this business for over 21 years and I’ve seen a lot of gymnasiums, grounds and running tracks built to outstanding standards … such is this track. It’s almost an exact copy of the track in Berlin,” said Regupol managing director, Ulf Poeppe.

“We used the most modern and sophisticated track technology that one can get in these times and I am proud to know that our track will be used at the home of Bolt in the sprint super power of the world, Jamaica,” Poeppe added.

The eight-lane track, which like the one at the Berlin Olympic Stadium is blue, with white lines, is located to the north of the university’s other main sporting facilities, namely, its four football fields, the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground, three tennis courts, a swimming pool and an indoor court.

The university intends to create a Sporting Centre of Excellence, similar to that of the Australian Sports Academy. The newly laid track is a major step in that direction.

The next phase of planned developments include a 6,000-seat mini-stadium with lighting, a football academy – in partnership with the Jamaica Football Federation – and a Caribbean Institute of Sports Medicine.

great things to come

“I would like to thank the visionaries behind the project – university officials, Regupol, the Ministry of Sports, and all those who assisted in making one of our dreams a reality,” said UWI principal, Professor Gordon Shirley.

“This is the start of of great things to come as is relates to UWI, Mona being a centre of sporting excellence in the region, and partnering with national bodies to unearth and develop local talent,” he noted.

Minister of Sports, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who along with Bolt, Shirley, Poeppe, IAAF regional representative, Neville ‘Teddy’ McCook, UWI director of sports, Grace Jackson, and Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, cut the ribbon to officially open the track, said she was pleased at the development.

“I am pleased to see a running track at the region’s highest centre of learning. It has put us in a position to excel even more,” she said.

Mills said the track was a welcome addition.

“I am excited at the possibilities that this has opened to us. Congratulations to UWI. To our local athletes and coaches, this is our training base, so let us use it to continue to dazzle the world,” said Mills.

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