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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Managing Bolt

By John Haughey

Usain Bolt and Ricky Simms
Simms is helping to point Usain Bolt's career in the right direction

Usain Bolt's exploits over the past year have meant an increased workload for his manager Ricky Simms but you won't hear the Donegal native complaining.

The London-based athletics agent is on his way to a meeting concerned with a possible new sponsorship deal for the Jamaican star when he takes time out to speak to BBC Sport Interactive.

"We always had a very big client list and we've been busy for the last couple of years but yes, his success has generated new types of work and new interest," says Simms, the managing director of PACE International.

"We, and a company in Jamaica, jointly deal with all the endorsement and sponsorship issues."

Bolt's manager has had to politely decline requests for the double world record holder to appear on popular BBC shows Top Gear, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, A Question of Sport as well as a visit to a Manchester United home match.

"He's only in the UK for two months of the summer when he's competing.

"If he was based in London, he would be all over British TV but he's based in Jamaica and there are all those local things there that they want him to do in his home country."

The UK interest in the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of 2008 is mirrored by TV stations throughout the globe and he also has received an invitation from Spanish football giants Real Madrid.

"The interest is not at the level of the top footballers or golfers but he has potential if he has another year at that level to break away from athletics and get into being a global star."

His coach Glenn Mills is very happy with him at the moment

Ricky Simms

However, Simms knows full well the danger that over-exposure to commercial opportunities could affect Bolt's performances out on the track.

"He still has to train and be an athlete for four or five years so we're going to try and partner up with three or four major brands and that will be him until 2012.

"He has to take the opportunities now while he has them but it's not the case of going to an opening of an envelope but a longer-term strategy that we're working on."

Six months on from his incredible performances in Beijing, Simms is pleased to report that Bolt's personality "hasn't changed".

"He is very much in demand in Jamaica.

"He gets a lot of invitations but he just has to make sure that he keeps training and keeps performing at this level for a number of years.

"Last year, he was very well-advanced. At this stage, he's probably a little bit behind where he was last year but his coach Glenn Mills is very happy with him."

Bolt's first outing of 2009 will be a low-key meeting in Jamaica on St Valentine's Day but his first serious action of the year will be at the Kingston International meeting in his native land in early May.

Christine Ohuruogu
Christine Ohuruogu will run in this weekend's Irish Indoor Championships

Simms' best-known British client Christine Ohuruogu plans to make her first outdoor appearance of the year at the Kingston meet, although Northern Ireland fans will have the opportunity to see the Olympic, World and Commonwealth 400 metre champion in action this weekend.

Ohuruogu will be the star attraction at the Woodie's DIY Irish Indoor Championships at Belfast's Odyssey Arena.

Simms acknowledges that the publicity which followed Ohuruogu's one-year suspension for three missed drugs tests has adversely affected her profile.

But he has a sensed a softening in attitudes since the Briton ran down Sanya Richard in the closing straight in Beijing.

"We're getting over the hump, if you like.

"She has been great to work with and should get much more credit for the things she has achieved on the track.

"She should really be one of the big, big names of British sport.

"The situation that she had went against her a little bit.

Christine (Ohuruogu) had a hard time in the press but that's happened, that's life

Ricky Simms

"I think it was very misunderstood. Footballers (Rio Ferdinand) had to deal with being asked to do the same thing and there was uproar and he has gone on to captain English since.

"Christine's situation was misconstrued in the press and a lot of people wrote things and they didn't know what they were talking about.

"It wasn't the athletics journalists, more the columnists.

"She had a hard time in the press but that's happened, that's life.

"It created stories. She's got on with it, she's got over it. People have to move from that now and give her the kind of respect that she deserves."

Other Simms' clients include Olympic triple jump silver medallist Phillips Idowu, Nicola Sanders, world steeplechase record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen as well as a host of Kenyans.

Simms will be attending this weekend's event at the Odyssey six weeks after he was home in Donegal along with his German-born partner and fellow PACE director Marion Steininger for the Christmas break.

No Irish athletes are currently on the Donegal man's books although he regularly uses his influence to help arrange international outings for fellow countrymen and woman.

So in an oblique and oblivious way, Usain Bolt may be doing his bit to help Irish athletics.

see also
Bolt sets sights on 400m record
15 Dec 08 |  Athletics
Sprinter Bolt wins Overseas award
14 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Bolt claims 200m gold with record
20 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Bolt surges to gold in new record
16 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Lightning Bolt's Irish connection
20 Aug 08 |  Northern Ireland
Simms follows the McDonald route
19 Feb 09 |  Athletics

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