A schoolboy runner who got to meet sprint superstar Usain Bolt yesterday said the experience had reinforced his dream of becoming a top track athlete.
Chayse Tanner, 14, from TN Tatem Middle School in Warwick, was speaking after he asked a question about the sports legend’s diet during the Olympics.
The eight-times Olympic gold medal- winner replied: “Which Olympics?”
Chayse said: “I am interested in sprinting. God willing, I will be the next upcoming sprinter.
“I need to work on my diet because my parents are always telling me that I have to eat healthily.
“I was honoured and blessed to meet him — I was really thankful. It definitely gave me motivation.
“If track and field goes well, I would like to keep on with that, but if not I’d like to be a physiotherapist.”
Chayse was at the stadium with fellow TN Tatem pupils and about 60 youngsters from middle and high schools around the island who got the chance to quiz Bolt on the secret of his success.
Bolt told the youngsters if he could change one thing it would be to have taken his sport more seriously at a younger age.
He said: “You shouldn’t regret things in life you should just learn from them,
“The only thing I would say to my younger self is to get serious quicker. All I wanted to do was party and enjoy myself and I didn’t really get serious until a later stage.”
Bolt added: “For me, working hard is everything and never giving up on your dream. I knew I wanted to be one of the best, so I just continued working and continued pushing myself and dedicated my life to the sport.
“It wasn’t an easy road and I had a lot of injuries which gave my career a few false starts, but I’ve always persevered because one thing I believe in is to be the best.”
Telilah Wears, 18, of CedarBridge Academy, said she received “inspiring” advice about the next stage of her training.
She added: “I’ve been doing track and field for a while and I’ve been watching him.
“As I grow older, it will get harder for me to compete with others.
“He said I have to find my weakness and to keep pushing because if I don’t find my weakness, I will never improve myself.”
Sancho Smith, 14, also of TN Tatem, said that Bolt’s track record had inspired him to take up athletics.
He added: “I asked him about some of his setbacks other than his injuries and whether he ever felt like he was overtraining when he was a teenager when it came to track.
“I do 400 metres and 800 metres, high jump, 1,500 metres and potentially a 400-metre hurdle next year at the Carifta games.
“I have been keeping track of him — he actually inspired me to really start track and take it seriously.”
Sancho added: “Seeing him today really helped, even though I was a bit overwhelmed.”
Sanaa Morris, 13, of Somersfield Academy and a runner at 200 and 400 metres, asked Bolt when he decided he wanted to dedicate himself to sport.
She said: “He told me he knew it was his passion when he was young.
“I’ve been looking up to him from the age of 6 and he is really like my inspiration.
“He loves to run, is always determined and so am I. I was really excited and it was a nice opportunity to have.”
Massassi Smith, 14 and also a pupil at TN Tatem, asked the superstar for advice on weight training.
She said: “He said not to do too many weights when you are growing — you just have to work on your core and work on your speed training,”
He added: “I asked him so I can know what to do to get faster and grow. I do 100 metres, 200 metres and long jump. I saw his movie. It was pretty cool to speak to him. I thought ‘Oh, my goodness I am talking to Bolt. I am asking him questions’. It was amazing.”
Bolt said the best advice he was ever given was to learn from failures.
He added: “My coach told me you have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win.
“It didn’t make much sense to me at the time, but when you lose you have to accept it and then figure out how you can win.
“It used to frustrate me when I would lose over the years.
“He said you are not going to win every race, but when you lose how do you deal with that situation? When I got older I realised you have to adjust yourself, figure it out and do better.”
• To celebrate Usain Bolt’s return to Bermuda, Digicel has a limited-time fibre offer. Customers can get 50Mb or 100Mb of fibre internet, and 50 per cent off Variety TV (119 channels). Anyone interested can call 500-5000