Gold Coast Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie has issued a formal invitation to track superstar Usain Bolt in an effort to lure the Jamaican Olympic legend to make one final appearance before hanging up the spikes.
But Beattie said the organising committee wouldn’t fund any appearance fees for the nine-time Olympic gold medallist, with a cashed-up sponsor the most likely option of convincing Bolt to spent a few days in the Queensland sunshine in 2018.
Beattie, a former Queensland premier, has spoke about Bolt in the past but this is the first time an official invitation has been made. Even a fleeting appearance from Bolt would send the profile of the Games through the roof, especially if it were to be the final time he graced the track.
Bolt confirmed Rio would be his final Olympic Games and he intends to sign off after the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. But he told ESPN in late September that his coach wanted him to keep competing beyond that meeting, leaving the door open for 2018.
“We issue a formal invitation to him. We’d love him to come,” Beattie told Fairfax Media. “But there are complications. One is he’s retiring and, secondly, we can’t pay athletes. But we’d love him to come.”
Even without Bolt and the star Americans, the Gold Coast track meeting would still boast a swag of Olympic champions including South African sensation Wayde van Niekerk, who smashed Michael Johnson’s long-standing 400m record in a brilliant run in Brazil.