USAIN BOLT tonight became the first man to win the Olympic Games 100m title three times – and the Jamaican sprint sensation is backed by a strong Donegal team.
At the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange in Rio, Bolt powered away in the final 40 metres to win in 9.81 seconds.
Bolt was 0.08 seconds ahead of American Justin Gatlin, who had flew from the blocks and looked, with 60m gone, to be nailed on.
Then came the blistering 6-foot-5 frame of Bolt to cross the line, beating his chest as he did so, as if to outline the ease – at least in his own mind – with which he won.
Among the 47,000 people in the stadium was a strong representation from Donegal who are part of Bolt’s support and backup team.[adrotate group=”81″]
Bolt’s agent is Milford man Richard Simms, a former Finn Valley ac middle distance runner and a director of Pace Sports Management.
Simms’ company has several athletes competing in Rio, but Bolt is their undoubted blue chip.
Raphoe woman Grainne O’Dea is the Athlete Services Manager at PACE and works closely with Bolt. O’Dea was spotted in the crowd as Bolt was celebrating his famous win, as was Finn Valley man and athletics photographer Kieran Carlin.
Another Finn Valley man, Enda Doherty, was also captured in the mix. From Lurgybrack, Letterkenny, Doherty is a Global assistant manager with Adidas.
Raphoe woman O’Dea is a former athletics scholarship athlete at the University of Mobile, Alabama and is also aligned with Finn Valley AC.
Her brother, Darren, also works for PACE’s athlete services department on a consultancy basis, although he is not in Rio.
Simms himself competed at 800m and 1,500m level and won a couple of Irish vests at U23 level.
“I started working with people at the top of the world I quickly realised what a gap there was, so I decided that it was time to hang up the spikes and do something that I could be successful at,” he said of his transition into the management side.[adrotate group=”38″]
He met Kim McDonald, Sonia O’Sullivan’s former coach, and went to work for his management company in 2000. Not long after, McDonald died and Simms, along with his partner Marion Steininger and Duncan Gaskell took over Pace Sports Management.
Simms said: “We are in the fortunate position of being at the top of our game, so it’s a case of the athletes coming looking for us. We aren’t really recruiting and haven’t done in the last few years.
“There are always one or two talented athletes for us to take a look at.”
Ricky Simms (left) and Grainne O’Dea (second right) with group including Usain Bolt