Diamond League: No Bolt yet

From The Times July 22, 2009

Usain Bolt holds out over Diamond League contract

Rick Broadbent

Usain Bolt has still to begin negotiations about his Diamond League contract, less than a month before the 14-city series is officially launched in Berlin.

The success of the revamped calendar may depend on the triple Olympic champion agreeing to a deal, and he holds all the aces.

“He’s the first name that any promoter would want at his meeting,” Ricky Simms, Bolt’s agent, said. However, Team Bolt have yet to sit down with the IAAF, the world governing body, to discuss his central contract.

The idea is that the world’s best athletes will sign up to a set number of races, but initial publicity in March met with scepticism from some agents, who suggested that their athletes could end up out of pocket.

Certainly, the prize money is less attractive, with a jackpot prize of an $80,000 diamond for the most consistent athletes in each of the nominated disciplines compared with the $1million (about £609,000) jackpot, offered by the existing Golden League.

Organisers believe that the Diamond League, which starts next May, will lead to more head-to-head competitions between the top athletes, but one agent said: “That’s just not going to happen.” The new league is due to be launched at the World Championships in Berlin, one city not included on the calendar, next month.

Bolt, meanwhile, said that he is only at 85 per cent fitness after a car crash in April. As he prepared to run the 100metres and the 4x100 metres relay in the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace this weekend, he said: “I need to do some work on my speed endurance because I wasn’t able to do much of that after my car accident. I lost about a month of training.”

It did not look that way last Friday when the Jamaican clocked 9.79sec in Paris, but he said a sprint double in Berlin would be hard. “The 100 should be all right, but the 200 will be more challenging if I don’t get into the shape I want to be,” he said. “I’m not in the best shape of my life.”