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Ato Boldon

Ato Boldon from the 1995 UCLA Track & Field media guide

In recent weeks, Ato Boldon has shared his thoughts on Team USA’s 4X100 relay team selection and has given advice to current athletes about money and planning for retirement.

4X100 Relay Team Selection:

  •  Rule 1 running the 4×100 is a privilege not a right. No camp, no run, no like the rules, sit in the stands.
  • Rule 2 Pat Henry is in charge.
  • Rule 3 is managers/agents stay the $%&* out of practice/discussions. What YOUR client “wants to run” means nothing.
  • Rule 4 for the next 3 years no collegians and no newbies. Look at the drops/miscues since 1988 and the experience level of those involved.
  • Rule 5: camp is 3 deep at every leg, and no switching. You train/practice with dif runners, but everyone is grouped by the leg u run.
  • Rule 6: see rule #3. Start there and the US may not win the next 3 years but the stick will actually travel 400m around an oval.

 Advice to current athletes:

  • 10. Save some of all that free gear you constantly give away. It will end.
  • 9. No one ever remembers the pain, but medals are forever. Push! No pro track athlete ever died from a workout. Post-career regret sucks.
  • 8. No one from that shoe company you love so much loves you. Romance with no finance is a nuisance. The more in love you are, the less you make.
  • 7. The competitors you think you hate so much now will be your friends when you are retired. Dont take it that seriously. Compete without hate.
  • 6. Figure out what job you will do next, in early or mid-career, not post career. Few get to decide when they retire, most get forced out.
  • 5. One day you’ll awake and won’t be fast anymore. Does your career define your whole life or existence? It shouldn’t! Have a life so you dont have to go get one after.
  • 4. Make use of the best thing about being a track athlete – the travel. Years in exotic locales, but all you know is hotels and McDonald’s is pointless. Get outside, take pictures, learn something. Experience other lands.
  • 3. Your career is infinitely more fun with a good training group. Choose your training group wisely. Chances are if you hate your career after, it’s because you hated your training partners, bounced around to several, or had none.
  • 2. Europe can be wild and crazy and fun… and it can also shorten your career drastically if you are incapable of not acting a damn fool there. Euro “wine and men/women” have prematurely ended many a promising career.
  • 1. Save your money like your life depends on it (it does) and make it earn more while you are earning a lot of it. And yes, get a pro to do this. “Your cousin who’s good with money” doesn’t count.

Both lists were very insightful and show that Boldon is a wise and thoughtful person.

But who exactly is Ato Boldon?

He was born on December 30, 1973 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. As a teenager he moved to New York City, where, while playing soccer, he was discovered by head track coach Joe Trupiano at Jamaica High School in Queens. In his first season of running track he ran 10.83 in the 100 meters, 21.44 in the 200 meters, and 48.52 in the 400 meters. He later moved to San Jose, California and attended Piedmont Hills High School. In his senior year he ran 10.57 in the 100 and 21.07 in the 200, and placed third at the 1991 California State Meet in the 200 meters.

In 1992, at the age of eighteen, Boldon represented his home country, Trinidad and Tobago, at the Barcelona Olympics. He ran the 100 and 200 meters but did not advance out of the first round in either event. However, later that same summer he made history as the first athlete to win gold medals in both the 100 meters and 200 meters at the World Junior Championships.

After high school he attended San Jose City College and in 1993 won the California Junior College state championship in the 100 and 200 meters, earning the meets Most Valuable Performer award. That same year we competed in the 100 and 200 meters at the World Championships in Stuttgart. By 1995 he was competing as a member of the UCLA Bruins track & field team. At the beginning of the summer he was the NCAA Champion in the 200 meters and by the end of the summer he was the World Championships bronze medalist in the 100 meters. This began a string of successes that lasted for the next six years.

–          1996 NCAA record of 9.90 seconds (100 meters) that stood until 2008.

–          1996 Olympic two-time bronze medalist (100 meters and 200 meters).

–          1997 World Championship gold medalist (200 meters).

–          2000 Olympic silver medalist (100 meters) and bronze medalist (200 meters).

–          2001 World Championship silver medalist (4X100 relay) and bronze medalist (100 meters).

–          PR’s of 9.86 (100 meters) and 19.77 (200 meters).

All told Boldon won eight medals at the Olympics and World Championships between 1995 and 2001, medaling at five out of the six major international championships during that period.

In 2004, after representing Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics for the fourth time, Bolden retired from the sport.

This does not mean that Boldon has slowed down in his pursuits. From 2006-2007 he was a member of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago. Also in 2006 he produced and directed a film entitled Once In A Lifetime: Boldon in Bahrain which documented his voyage with fellow fans and Trinidad and Tobago nationals to Bahrain, where the country’s soccer team defeated Bahrain 1–0 and became the smallest country to ever qualify for the FIF World Cup. He is now a television broadcast analyst for track and field, and can be seen and heard offering insights during track & field meet coverage for CBS, NBC, and ESPN.

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One Response to 'Ato Boldon'

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  1. Tomas said,

    Great post Andy. Boldon’s forthright commentary in the last Olympics was about one of the only listenable things in that coverage. He really studies the sport and knows who’s had a good year or a bad one, and what “potential” really looks like. I hadn’t known a lot of the details in this post.


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