Monday, August 18, 2008
When Usain Bolt was seen holding up his Theseus II spikes from PUMA, it confirmed once again that Nike and Adidas had been getting b*tch slapped, not only by Li Ning, but by the often-overlooked PUMA brand at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The world's fastest man blew out of the starting block and with 20 meters left, he looked left and looked right to gauge where the competition was and then proceeded to celebrate in a way typically seen only after racers cross the finish line. He had just run a 9.68 unofficial time to be later confirmed as 9.69 by the judges.
As he headed to the finish line, Bolt pounded his chest and began celebrating the win that was billed as the-race-for-the-ages, pitting him against his fellow countryman, Asafa Powell, and Tyson Gay from America. Gay failed to qualify for the final and Powell finished a disappointing fifth in 9.95.
As Bolt circled the National Stadium dancing and blowing kisses to the stunned crowd of 90,000, one could only imagine what the scene was like on the island of Jamaica.
By PUMA having signed Bolt it was more than just a race. It was a show down of brands between Nike which signed Asafa Powell and Adidas which has Tyson Gay. “It was a great allusion to the footwear wars,” says Larry Eder, who runs Running Network, an athletics website.
Due to the Olympic 100m final being a race the world watches, sportswear sales are driven by the race and used as a tool for signing top athletes to a brand. It's a battle between Nike and PUMA to sign the top Jamaican sprinters.
The Jamaican federation was signed to PUMA, but many of it's athletes signed individual deals with Nike. The only athlete that PUMA was able to keep was Bolt, and they have to be ecstatic right about now!