Commonwealth Games: Bolt circus roles into town

By Nik Simon

The Loch Lomond suite in Glasgow's media centre had never experienced anything quite like a Usain Bolt press conference before these Games. Bolt, most probably, had never experienced a press conference quite like the one he faced in the Loch Lomond suite.

Questions ranged from the bizarre to the ridiculous. 'Can I take a selfie with you?' asked one Australian reporter. 'Do you own a kilt? Do you still want to play for Manchester United? What is your opinion on the conflict in Gaza?' And so on.

Some of it was hard to watch but, apart from one roll of the eyes, Bolt remained typically cool and collected. The Jamaican's arrival had triggered the beginning of a circus.

Journalists began queuing outside the 400-seat theatre more than an hour before the scheduled start time as they sniffed out the best vantage points to see the undoubted superstar of these Games.

He rolled up with a two-car entourage and - after changing out of his black leather jacket, shades and baseball cap - took his place on the top table in front of a scrum of photographers.

The snapping of cameras echoed around the auditorium throughout the Jamaican's thirty-minute slot as Bolt faced some probing interrogation about his motivations for competing in the Commonwealth Games.

Some have suggested that Bolt is in Scotland to keep his sponsors happy, but the sprint star insisted the competition has always been among his list of ambitions.

"I have always wanted to compete in these Games," said Bolt.

"The first one in Australia (in 2006) I strained my hamstring and in 2010 in India it was in October, which is a bad time for me."

The hype surrounding Bolt's arrival from the Caribbean will be welcomed with open arms by the organisers. Bolt does not need Glasgow, but Glasgow desperately needs Bolt.

He will spend shy of 20 seconds on track - entering only into the men's 4x100m relay - but his presence alone is enough. Mo Farah's late withdrawal has left Bolt to fly the flag of superstar status alone but, in Bolt's words: "The Games will go on."

He added: "I don't think anyone has dropped on purpose. It happens in the Olympics, it happens in the World Championships. It's one of those things."

The Jamaican fielded one final question - this time about Scottish independence - before reluctantly posing for the selfie with his Australian fan.

His ring-masters stepped in and Bolt was quickly escorted away. Even the original showman, you suspect, was happy for the curtains to draw to a close.

- NZ Herald

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