Usain Bolt told Jamaican Olympians to protect their brands from corporate companies following success in Tokyo.
The legendary sprinter turned music producer is not one to mince words as he warned Jamaican Olympian athletes to “know your worth” as many flocks now after they’ve won but didn’t offer help when it was needed. The Jamaican Olympic team is by far the most impressive of the lot to have entered the Olympics and sweeping the medals list in the events the athletes competed in.
The island of just under three million people finished with a nine-medal haul, pulling in medals for some of the most track and field races despite formidable competition by the United States and countries like Italy and Kenya.
The 2020 Olympic Games is particularly memorable for Jamaica. For the second time in history, the women’s 100-meter sprint was swept by Jamaica with a sweet 1,2,3 haul, and sprinter Elaine Thompson Herah breaking the Olympic record in the same event.
Perhaps the Men’s 110-meter hurdles was a sweet deal for Jamaica as Hansle Parchment powered through to bring home gold for Jamaica. The euphoric wins were celebrated across Jamaica and even by the Chairman of the Sandals group of companies, Adam Stewart, who extended free hotel stays for the Olympians, winning gold.
“‘The Worlds Best’ continues to deserve ‘The Worlds Best.’ We got you,” Stewart said of the Olympians who medaled on his Twitter account as he extended free hotel stays at the Sandals Over Water Bungalows in Montego Bay.
The “Worlds Best” continues to deserve “The Worlds Best”.
Congratulations Shaunae Miller-UIBO on your Gold win in the 400m. Your @SandalsResorts fam has some #VotedWorldsBest Bahamian vacay love for you when you return home. #TeamBahamas pic.twitter.com/B1OxuWdIQw
— Adam Stewart (@AdamStewart) August 6, 2021
You know the deal, “Worlds Best” athletics shall be rewarded with more “Worlds Best” resort vacays! Congratulations ladies, you are all solid GOLD. pic.twitter.com/5meY4bgy69
— Adam Stewart (@AdamStewart) August 6, 2021
?- In addition to no limit VIP stays for our athletes who medaled, my team & I @SandalsResorts will be offering ALL athletes who traveled to the Olympics to represent their Island, in which we have a resort, a complimentary “Worlds Best” vacay. #TeamCaribbean ??????????????
— Adam Stewart (@AdamStewart) August 9, 2021
Stewart also went out of his way as he flew Parchment on his private jet from the Sangster airport in Montego Bay to the AC Hotel in Kingston, where he met with others, including the Sports Minister Babsy Grange.
However, Usain Bolt reacted with caution to athletes.
“A lot of artistes sought support from [corporate] Jamaica in their preparation leading up and heading to Olympic Games and got NO HELP,” said Bolt, an 11-time world champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist.
“Athletes know your Worth/power now that they all want to jump onto your Brand/Image for free,” the world’s fastest man alive said.
Coming from Usian Bolt, this is advice worth its weight in gold as Bolt himself is the highest-paid male athlete with a whopping $31 million income in 2018, according to Forbes. Bolt managed to turn his image into cold hard cash, including his iconic “look at the board sign” when he broke the world record. The sprint legend turn music executive still has more than a dozen sponsors and earns $10 million annually from his Puma deal.
Of course, this warning from Usain Bolt is not new as Bolt was the athlete that ushered in the era of endorsements for Jamaican athletes as that was not a thing common to Jamaica, although it is a commonplace elsewhere.
In fact, Jamaicans are among the lowest income earners when it comes to getting rewards for winning medals at games like the Olympics, and their primary sources of income are from brand deals and endorsements.
The plight of athletes have been ongoing as it is a cry made before by the likes of Asafa Powell, one of the earlier athletes to start Jamaica’s reign of dominance at international track and field competitions.
However, it seems that Usain Bolt’s critique met the eyes of Stewart, who hours later said he was extending the Sandals hospitality to the entire Olympic team to recuperate at the all-inclusive five-star hotel, not only the medalists as was previously invited.
“In addition to the no limit VIP stays for our athletes who medaled, my team & I @SandalsResorts will be offering ALL athtletes who traveled to the Olympics to represent their island, in which we have a resort, a complimentary “Worlds Best” vacay,” Stewart tweeted.
Meanwhile, Jamaicans shared their delight at the announcements, but others were skeptical and urged continued support for the athletes as they continued onto other games in the year.
“Love it and so well-deserved for our athletes. Hope this will lead to future sponsorships and support for our athletes because it is much needed and this is big marketing for Sandals. We know the attention is on our athletes for their outstanding performances in Tokyo but the continued support will be needed as [they] journey on in the season,” one commenter noted to Stewart’s announcement.
“Why not sponsor them before the Olympics not after,” another person commented.
Stewart, on the other hand, noted that he was ecstatic with pride as the rest of Jamaica as he looked on at the performance of the athletes. Speaking at a press conference at the AC Hotel where gold medalist Parchment was hosted, Stewart noted the tenacity of Parchment as his surprise gold came in the midst of a predicted win by American athlete Grant Holloway.
“Clearly you are born with a gift but you had to polish that diamond and get yourself through the stages and I don’t think it’s recognized by everyone every day,” Stewart said.
“We are so proud and we cyah wait to show you guys the way you showed us how you can do your thing, we can’t wait to show you how we’re gonna take care of all our athletes in true fine world class Jamaican hospitality and I just wanna say a huge congratulations from all of us,” Stewart added.
On the other hand, Parchment noted the struggles athletes faced not getting support and urged that more is needed to assist athletes in knowing they have strong support when going out to represent the island.
“It’s tough to be an athlete, it’s tough to go out after months of preparation and not get the results that you wanted so it would be really good for us as a nation to give the support out to everybody and build that team spirit so next time around that we go out there, we will know that the support is strong the support is real and that should give and extra boost to coming closer to not only making the finals but getting on top of the podium,” Parchment said.