Usain Bolt feeds his newly adopted cheetah (Elias Makori) © Copyright
General News 4 November 2009 – Nairobi, Kenya

Bolt on Kenyan tour: World’s fastest man adopts world’s fastest animal

Nairobi, KenyaIt’s a pity that track and field is in the off-season. Otherwise the world could have witnessed yet another 100 metres record that would make the current 9.58 seconds look like a hand-timed high school mark.

By his own admission, Jamaican sprint king and World 100m and 200m record holder, Usain Bolt, is scared of wildlife. The 23-year old found himself face to face with his adversaries in his first tour of Africa that concluded on Tuesday when an irate elephant almost charged at his game drive truck at the Segera Ranch in Laikipia, central Kenya.

Bolt, former World 110m Hurdles World record holder Colin Jackson and Jochen Zeitz, founder of the Zeitz Foundation and Puma chief executive, were in Kenya as part of the official launch of the Zeitz Foundation and “The Long Run” initiative to conserve the environment.

During their four-day visit to Kenya and to Segera, one of the nine Long Run destinations, they experienced Kenya’s rich heritage and environment culminating in Bolt and Jackson being made honorary Maasi warriors, and Bolt given the name “Lloingwany” – meaning “warrior of warriors” – before he adopted a cub cheetah that was aptly named “Lightning Bolt.”

With cheetahs clocking speeds of up to 112 kilometres-per-hour in the wild, Bolt had finally come up against formidable opposition!

Segera is part of the global alliance of nine Long Run destinations around the world that are committed to become ecologically and socially responsible Global Ecosphere Retreats and to protect the integrity of local ecosystems and the cultures and people living within them.

The Long Run initiative intends to provide and build sustainable, mostly tourism driven enterprises, community development and cultural stewardship.

As the inaugural initiative by the Zeitz Foundation, The Long Run is a practical approach to a sustainable way of living and is endorsed by Bolt and Jackson, who both act as for the Zeitz Foundation in order to support its aims and spread its message.

At Segera, Bolt and Jackson enjoyed a game drive that brought them close to groups of elephants and giraffes and dozens of zebra.

“Seeing these animals in their natural environment is an amazing experience,” said Jackson. “The tranquillity of the place is something very special and it’s an honour to be a part of The Long Run to ensure that it is protected and continues to exist in this state.”

Bolt ‘s tour drive party was confronted by a bull elephant which approached their tour truck.

“It was really scary,” Bolt said. “I thought he wanted to charge at us but all he wanted was for us to back off.”

“But the game drive was wonderful and I really enjoyed it. We will go for another one because I did not see any lions or leopards. I definitely hope to come back soon,” he said.

Later on, in a ceremony with 12 local Maasai, the two athletes were made honorary Maasai morans, or “warriors”, and received the traditional Shuka dress and stick. Both proudly participated in the traditional dancing and chatted with the moran about their culture.

A group of local school children joined them on Sunday to watch the movie “Home” at Segera Ranch.

Jochen Zeitz, Founder of the Zeitz Foundation, said “It means a lot to me to see these children here at Segera and to introduce them to this wonderful movie from Yann-Arthus Bertrand. Its message is so important and we will continue to communicate it beyond today’s event.”

On Monday this week, Bolt, Jackson and Zeitz had an audience with Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and senior ministers, who warmly welcomed the party to Kenya and encouraged them to enjoy the wonderful sights and wildlife that Kenya has to offer.

At a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Bolt fittingly adopted a cheetah, the fastest animal on land, and Jackson adopted an eland antelope.

At the ceremony, Zeitz was also made an Honorary Warden of Kenya and a Trustee of the Kenya Wildlife Service Endowment Fund.

A game drive in Nairobi National Park concluded the day.

Jackson commented, “It has been an impressive trip. I have been to other African countries but I have never seen so many elephants. My only regret is that it has been too short, and I am certain I will be back soon.”

Elias Makori and the Zeitz Foundation for the IAAF