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Big bucks for blitzing Bolt
- Updated: May 8, 2009
Organisers of the inaugural Festival of Excellence are holding their breath that the world’s fastest man recovers from a car crash and can run in Toronto on June 11.
They are also reportedly not going to be holding on to their cash, allegedly offering Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt a $250,000 appearance fee to compete in the track and field exhibition at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.
Bolt was injured last week after his BMW skidded off a rain-soaked highway in his Jamaica and crashed in a ditch. He underwent treatment on his left foot, which had been pierced with thorns when he exited the vehicle, and he has yet to return to the track.
Bolt’s agent has given assurances that his client will be healthy enough to compete in the June 11 Toronto meet – he is also expected to race in Manchester, England in two weeks – but organisers are still taking precautions.
“I wanted to write Jamaica to say, ‘Cancel his driver’s licence,’ ” joked Bruce Kidd, the dean of the physical education and health at the University of Toronto.
“We’re on pins and needles, obviously. We wish him well . . . we didn’t think that he would get into a driving accident, so it’s a worry. Until the end of (the month), we’re going to be worrying about a long list of things that can go wrong, as most sports entrepreneurs do.”
“His races drew audiences far beyond the traditional track and field audience,” Kidd said of Bolt, who won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and set world records in the 100 and 200 metres.
“It’s extraordinary to see that kind of energy under control running hard. It just takes your breath away . . . you’ll remember that for the rest of your life. You’ll tell your grandkids that you were there.”