Ready to race Usain Bolt
A young athlete from Morrinsville has been challenged to a race by the world’s fastest man – and she plans to hold him to it.
Kristie Baillie, one of New Zealand's leading sprinters, was selected to take part in a coaching clinic with Usain Bolt on Monday.
The 21-year-old had the chance to run with and learn from the man himself.
"The experience was kind of, a bit mind blowing,‘‘ she told the Times.
"He was relaxed, chilled out and quite funny. Everyone was being a bit cheeky and trying to get him to laugh. He’s not really too intimidating, just a lot of fun. It was very special. I’m pretty fortunate to have had that experience."
Working on the group’s block starts, Bolt told the young track star that because starts were not too important for her event (the 400m), he would race her instead.
"We only had about an hour with him so we didn’t get to race, but I said I would hold him to it one day,’’ she said.
Baillie was one of eight track and field athletes chosen by Athletics New Zealand for the clinic run by Frucor - the New Zealand distributor of sponsor Gatorade, who brough Bolt to the country.
"It’s rare to have the chance to get close to such a world-class athlete and all those involved will benefit greatly from the experience,” Athletics New Zealand chief executive Scott Newman said.Baillie agreed, and with dreams of the 2016 Olympics in sight, said meeting Bolt was one of the most exciting experiences she’d had.
"He watched what we did and gave us all individual feedback and pointers in how to improve which was quite cool. I think a lot of people had heard it all before but coming from Bolt, they start to pay attention,’’ she said.
"He’s definitely inspiring. He’s the fastest man on the planet, he’s just a legend, and to be in that close proximity with someone like that was just amazing.’