The true story behind Usain Bolt’s Segway accident
Cameramen understandably have trouble keeping up with Usain Bolt during his victory laps.
He is, after all, the world’s fastest man.
An innovative cameraman, Song Tao of China’s CCTV, decided to try riding a Segway to trail Bolt at the 2015 World Championships. It seemed like a great idea. Tao was able to glide around the track, capturing the moment while Bolt celebrated his 200m victory, without breaking a sweat.
It nearly went very wrong, however. With his eyes trained on Bolt, Tao did not notice that his Segway was drifting towards a raised camera track. He lost control and went crashing into the sprinter.
The video has since gone viral. Fortunately, Bolt quickly jumped back up to his feet and continued to celebrate.
Justin Gatlin, who claimed the 200m silver medal, was celebrating on a different part of the track. He was unaware of the crash until Bolt mentioned it in an interview.
“I hadn’t seen it,” Gatlin recalled recently. “I just kind of laughed along with him.”
A television reporter finally showed Gatlin a replay of the crash. He was relieved to learn that Bolt had only sustained a couple of minor cuts.
“He took a real spill,” Gatlin said. “That could have been really bad.”
In the post-race press conference, Bolt proved that he had a sense of humor about the accident.
“The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off,” Bolt said, with Gatlin sitting to his right.
Gatlin, without missing a beat, responded, “I want my money back. He didn’t complete the job.”
The two sprinters continued to laugh about the accident after the press conference.
“If I would have paid him to hit you with a Segway, he would have done it before we ran,” Gatlin told Bolt. “Not after.”
When Gatlin checked Twitter, he saw dozens of Internet memes of the crash. In one meme, Gatlin is holding a video game remote control to dictate the movement of the Segway. In another, the Segway crashes into Bolt during the race, allowing Gatlin to cross the finish line first. But in Gatlin’s favorite image, his face is superimposed directly on the body of the cameraman.
“It’s all in good fun,” Gatlin said.