The universe of digital sports memorabilia keeps expanding, and with it more iconic sports heroes are getting into the game. So, it’s no surprise that sprinting legend Usain Bolt is too.
Today it was announced that Bolt, who won eight events in three consecutive Olympic Games, has joined Autograph, the digital media and NFT platform co-founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
Bolt will be a member of the Los Angeles-based firm’s advisory board, and one which boasts an already long list of sports luminaries such as Tiger Woods, Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Derek Jeter, Simone Biles and Wayne Gretzky.
In partnering with the world’s most influential NFT maker, Bolt says he hopes to help usher in a new era of digital collecting.
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“When Tom (Brady) and everybody at Autograph approached my team, I was happy, because I know this is the way things are going and that everything is going online,” Bolt said via Zoom, from Germany, where he had just landed to meet with fans and sign autographs.
Starting next week, Bolt’s first set of NFT collectibles will go up for sale online. Prices of the first set of items will range from $12 to $100, while editions signed by the eight-time Olympic gold medalist will start at $250.
The NFTs drop as part of what Autograph calls its “Preseason Access Collection,”marketed in a way to give Bolt’s fan base a first taste.
NFT products, like the ones that have been put out by best-in-the-game superstars like Woods and Brady and influential favorites that include Andy Murray and Julian Edelman, use blockchain, to give the owner a secure and unique ownership in a piece. Some consumer tech experts liken the NFT, which stands for non-fungible token, as something more akin to a sports experience versus a physical and tangible thing that one can own.
Related story: Usain Bolt says being coachable made him a legend
But Bolt thinks that when priced sensibly, NFTs give both the rabid everyday sports fan and the aficionado a chance to own sports related collectibles without travel or the need for to be invited to a haughty private auction.
“It’s sports memorabilia,” Bolt added, “but one that is most easily accessible for fans.”
Bolt’s NFT line will highlight top moments of his career, such as his world record-breaking gold medal performance in the 2008 Summer Olympics 100m sprint, in Beijing, China.
Initial sale dates are October 5 and October 7, and the NFTs will be sold exclusively at Autograph.io and on the DraftKings Marketplace. Autograph said they are expected to sell out within minutes.
Hard work, ‘perfecting form’ led to Bolt the legend
When I asked Bolt about his achievements as an Olympian and his stature as Jamaica’s most famous son, he points out that early on in his career he was “nervous” and felt pressure, wanting to bring home the goods for his country.
“Mentally what helped me was in 2002, when I ran in front of my home crowd in Jamaica. I had one of my roughest races, and I was shaking,” Bolt said.
During a race at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston, Bolt won a gold medal in the 200m sprint in front of a crowd of 36,000 fans. Only 15 at the time, Bolt became the youngest-ever male world junior champion in any event.
“Jamaican fans are demanding, and I knew that. But I told myself, if I could compete in front of them, it would be alright.”
Bolt also stated Monday, and in our previous interview before the Tokyo Olympics, that preparation and satisfying the demands of your coach are essential things for any runner, even the most accomplished.
Bolt said that after a handful of silver medal performances leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, his debut, that he was told to “work harder and put more time in at the gym” by trainers.
Bolt says he worked on “perfecting form” and consulted with coaches to fine-tune his starting position as well.
“(My coach) would pick simple things to work on, like my position in the blocks. If you look at me, you’ll see the front of my left spikes are a little worn off, because I tend to drag my feet,” Bolt said.
The 6-foot-5 Bolt, who is on the tall side, when compared to his sprinting hero, four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson (6’1”), and nine-time gold medalist Carl Lewis (6’2”), shares that he had to make adjustments because of that height and his natural stance.
“Coach said I had to bring my hands closer together instead of out—because of my body position.”
Bolt also says that his work up to Beijing 2008, where he won his first two gold medals, was not the end of his ‘fine-tuning’ process. At both London 2012 and Rio de Janiero 2016, Bolt ran the 100m and 200m sprints as well as the 4x100m relay, taking gold in all three events both times.
“We always worked on small things like that, my position and starts, to try to cut milliseconds off my times, each time I would get ready to compete.”
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