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Bolt set to cash in with race fees, gold bars

While Usain Bolt racks up the gold medals in Beijing, European track meet organizers are polishing the gold bars in anticipation of new records by the sport's newest superstar.
The 22-year-old Jamaican sprinter is set to compete at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich next week, where he can collect a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold and prize money worth a combined US$93,000 (euro63,000) if he breaks his 100-meter world record of 9.69 seconds.
After that, Bolt is staying in Switzerland to run the 200 at the Sept. 2 Athletissima meet in Lausanne, where he can net another gold bar worth around US$27,000 (euro18,300) if he improves on his newly minted 19.30 mark.
By dominating the Olympic sprint events with devastating ease, Bolt has quickly become the new darling of international meet organizers. Aside from increased bonuses, he can also expect to receive significantly higher appearance fees.
"In the contract, with the two world records, maybe we can pay $30,000 more," Athletissima spokesman Pierre-Andre Pasche said Thursday. "For us it is very important. He is the superstar of the Olympic Games and we expect to fill all the stadium with people coming to see Usain Bolt."
Some 14,000 are expected in Lausanne for the meet, and Zurich's 25,000-seat Letzigrund stadium is sold out for Bolt's first competition after the Olympics.
Weltklasse meet director Patrick Magyar said it may not take long for Bolt to break his 100 mark _ which he set in Saturday's final despite showboating for the last 20 meters.
"I still think he has the potential to improve the 100 by quite a bit to get it to the same level he is running the 200," Magyar said. "There is, of course, a very nice bonus available if you run a world record in Zurich."
Weltklasse said it is offering a US$50,000 (euro34,000) record bonus on top of US$16,000 (euro10,900) for winning a race. A Swiss bank sponsor has promised the gold bars.
Long recognized for fast times, the Zurich track is expected to run even quicker since being resurfaced during stadium renovations last year. The synthetic rubber surface was poured into place rather than rolled out like a carpet to ensure consistency and energy efficiency.
"I think Zurich is probably the most advanced track there is in the world," Magyar said. "It needs time to settle in so we expect the track to be in better condition for the athletes than last year."
Bolt is slated for a rematch with Olympic runner-up Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago and Walter Dix of the United States, who won the bronze medal. The 100-meter record has been equaled or broken on three previous occasions at the meet.
In 1960, Armin Hary of West Germany clocked the first 10.0 time, while Carl Lewis in 1988 equaled the 9.93 mark he shared with fellow American Calvin Smith. Two years ago, Bolt's Jamaican rival Asafa Powell ran 9.77 for the third time.
Bolt ran the 200 at Weltklasse last year, clocking 20.19 to finish second behind Xavier Carter of the United States.
He was also beaten at the 2007 Athletissima, where his 20.11 run trailed far behind American Tyson Gay's time of 19.78.
Pasche said Bolt has missed the meet just once since debuting in 2003 but has never won there. World record or not, that streak seems sure to end.


Updated : 2021-05-12 20:34 GMT+08:00