Heading into Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season, sprint king Usain Bolt pledged his support to Royal Challengers Bangalore and needless to say, RCB captain Virat Kohli and star player AB de Villiers were quick to welcome the Jamaican icon on board.
Usain Bolt, who won eight Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career and still holds the 100m and 200m sprint world records, on Thursday, tweeted out a photo of himself in a Royal Challengers Bangalore jersey.
The accompanying message read, “Challengers, just letting you know, I’m still the fastest cat around.” He also tagged both India captain Virat Kohli and South African ace AB de Villiers – both RCB players - in his tweet.
Virat Kohli responded to Usain Bolt’s post and said, “No doubt and that's why we've got you on our team now.”
ABD, too, slipped in a quirky response, saying, “We know whom to call when we need a few extra runs!”
The RCB team handle also noted that RCB’s red and black suited Bolt, who is mostly associated with the green, yellow and black – Jamaica’s team colours.
It’s to be noted that Usain Bolt, Virat Kohli and ABD are all PUMA athletes and the sports apparel giants also sponsor RCB.
Despite the marketing connotations, though, Usain Bolt taking an interest in cricket comes as little surprise.
Usain Bolt - a lifelong cricket fan
Born in Jamaica in the 80s, Usain Bolt grew up watching some of West Indies’ finest, including Michael Holding, Sir Vivian Richards and others.
Cricket was an intrinsic part of Bolt’s household too. With his father being a huge fan of the sport, Bolt played cricket throughout his school days and was, in fact, quite good at it.
“I had two options - cricket or athletics. My dad said because of the system in Jamaica, it would be better to take up athletics. He said, 'You just have to run fast in athletics while it's tougher to get into the national (cricket) team',” Usain Bolt had said during an interview with AFP.
His father’s advice worked out well for him as he went on to become the undisputed king of the sprinting world. But even so, his connect with cricket stayed strong.
Usain Bolt is known to participate in the occasional cricket matches whenever he gets the time.
In 2009, when he was at the peak of his sprinting career, Usain Bolt made headlines after uprooting the stumps of Chris Gayle - his close friend and West Indian cricket’s modern-day posterboy – during a charity match.
Five years later, Usain Bolt featured in an exhibition match in Bengaluru with India’s 2011 World Cup-winning hero Yuvraj Singh in the opposition team.
He famously scored a match-winning 19-ball 45 in tune with the typical Caribbean flair.