Young basketballers meet Usain Bolt

By Denise Montgomery

Up and coming Breakers basketballers got the chance to meet athletics superstar Usain Bolt on his whirlwind visit this afternoon, when he stopped in at the ANBL double champs' training centre on the North Shore.

Tai Webster, captain of the Westlake Boys High basketball team which won the National Secondary School Basketball champs over the weekend, had another highlight when he got to meet the charismatic Jamaican. It's been an exciting year for Webster - named in the Tall Blacks, scoring a US scholarship and captaining his team to the schools title.



Westlake team-mate Jack Salt, 16, also got in the picture, making it a great 48 hours for the teenager. Salt had been named, along with Webster, in the national schools' tournament team as one of the best players over the championships week in Nelson.

The youngster dwarfed the sprinter - Salt is 2.05m (6ft 7") while Bolt is 1.95m (6ft 5").

Salt told The Aucklander it was a great experience.

"It was great meeting him and hearing him talk about how he enjoyed his greeting [the haka] into New Zealand.

"It was also fun doing some shooting with him, watching him do a few dunks."

Bolt was presented with a Breakers shirt before taking part in some drills with Breakers players, and mixing and mingling with their families.

The athlete known for his cricketing skills as well as his speed, wasn't so crash-hot at basketball under pressure. He missed his first seven free throws before deciding that dunking the ball would be easier.

The reigning 100m and 200m Olympic champion was in town for less than 24 hours as part of a promotional tour with Gatorade and earlier spent time at the company's plant in south Auckland.

Bolt said a haka performed by workers at the Frucor factory was an experience.

"It was different, it was good. It gave me the chills, the energy they had. I would love to do something like that. I would love to learn," Bolt said.

As well as time with the Breakers, Bolt spent almost an hour in a coaching session with eight young track athletes at the Millennium Institute, giving them tips and taking part in a few races, before being whisked away in a chopper.


- The Aucklander

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