Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 15:30 UK

Lightning Bolt's Irish connection

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt set new world records in the 100 and 200 metre finals

He is the fastest man in the world at both 100 and 200 metres and a double Olympic gold medallist.

But the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has relied on Irish support on his way to the top of the world.

His agent is Donegal man Ricky Simms, who hails from Milford and is a graduate of the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

After studying Sports and Leisure Studies and then a PGCE in Physical Education in Northern Ireland, Ricky made the move into sports management.

At the beginning of 2000 he went to work with Sonia O'Sullivan's coach Kim McDonald.

"Unfortunately he died in 2001 and myself and my partner Marion Steininger took over the company after that with Duncan Gaskill.

"Usain was one of the athletes we recruited in 2003, he was just a young 16-year-old kid and he's progressed quite well," he said.

Ricky grew up with a love of athletics in County Donegal.

"I ran for Finn Valley Athletic Club. I was the captain there for many years, I guess I was a good club runner in Ireland. Got a couple of Irish vests at under-23 level and student level but no championships like this," he said.

As for his current job, he says it's a good replacement.

"It's hard work, we work long hours. But when you can't be a professional in the sport yourself, I guess this is the next best thing."

In the five years Ricky has been working with Usain Bolt he has seen him overcome injury and develop into one of the world's greatest sprinters.

"In 2002, when he was 15-years-old, he won the World Junior Championships. He raced more at 200 metres prior to this. This year he got strong enough, he's been in the gym a little bit more and he's been quite successful.

"He's a typical Jamaican, I think, very laid back, very, very laid back. In the warm up area before the 100 metres we were punching each other, rolling on the ground, he was laughing, he loves playing games. He's a young at heart kind of guy," he said.

"He's a happy guy, what you see on the track is real. When you see him serious you know that something is wrong.

"I think he takes all the credit, he's the athlete, he's the one that did it."



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