By Laura Dowrich-Phillips
The TT Guardian
24 Oct 2010
Up until the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Ato Boldon’s name was still being uttered, as track and field pundits reminisced about the glory days when he bested Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks and Barbados’s Obadele Thompson to a record-breaking 9.88 seconds in the 100m event. In his heyday, Boldon was an undeniable force, bringing glory to Trinidad and Tobago as he clocked record sub-10s and bagged precious hardware at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. Retired since 2004, the now 36-year-old is enjoying a new chapter in his life as a broadcaster, businessman and devoted father. He may be a little grayer but Boldon is still sprinting toward personal success. Laura Dowrich-Phillips spoke to this month’s Distinguished Gentleman.
LDP: What are you up to these days Ato?
AB: I have two shows that I am working on bringing to television next year. One is a reality show called The Move. You can check it out on Watchthemove.com. The other is a magazine type show. Both centre on track and field. I am also involved in the oil industry. I am the co-owner of Energex Corporation. We work with energy suppliers, end users and government agencies.
LDP: From track and field to oil?
AB: My business partner got me involved. I don’t like to be in things everyone is involved in and this is not the kind of thing you see athletes doing.
LDP: But you are still involved with track and field…
AB: I am still very involved, my real passion is still track and field and my day job is track and field broadcasting. I have conquered the US track and field broadcast market with CBS, ESPN, NBC, Universal Sports and every major network in the US.
LDP: Do you ever miss running?
AB: I do not, maybe I would have if I felt like I had left certain things undone. I had a Hall of Fame career, I left a good legacy and I am still involved with people like Richard Thompson. I still get to go to all the meets and watch the best events and be a part of history; it’s my voice recording history. I don’t miss the competing.
LDP: How do you feel about the international talent on the tracks today?
AB: I feel blessed to be in the same era, in the booth, while we have a Usain Bolt with a once in a lifetime sort of talent.
LDP: And the talent coming out of Trinidad and Tobago?
AB: I enjoy watching the fact that when it was me, it was just me and since my time we have seen Bovell in swimming, field events have come a long way, women have done a lot better. My track and field job was to leave it better than I found it. Are we where I think we should be? No, and we have strides to make.
LDP: Let’s talk about your personal life, what’s going on there?
AB: The good thing is because I am not a national athlete I have on purpose kept my personal life private. But I am in a relationship and I have two daughters aged 18 and three.
LDP: That’s a big gap between them. How does that feel to be raising two children so far apart in ages?
AB: It’s like two different lives. When Bri came, I was 18 and starting my career but when Lea came around I was done with my career and wanting another child. I am a lot more stable now. Bri missed out on me being around the way I am now. Now I get to be around but we have a very good relationship. My regret was that she did not get a lot of me.
LDP: What’s the most important lesson you are teaching your girls?
AB: I would like to think it’s leading by example when it comes to choosing a profession. When I was chasing my dream in track and field, very few thought it was a credible career choice. I think you should pursue your dream. The lesson is don’t be limited by other people’s expectations of you.
LDP: Do you consider yourself to be a distinguished gentleman?
AB: Yeah. I have grey hair now, I got grey in my late 20s and I get teased about it but this is how I look now.
LDP: How have you managed to avoid the public dramas that usually pursue high profile athletes?
AB: I have always had a good team around me in terms of friends, in terms of management and because I had that, they understood the pitfalls of public life, particularly in T&T. When I was an active athlete there was a limit to how long I could stay in T&T, it was 10 days. When people ask for my advice I tell them you have to be aware every time you are in a public situation because you never ever know.
LDP:Any last words?
AB: I just did a deal to bring a new product, a health drink product, to T&T. We are launching it for Carnival, it’s called Vemma. Maybe it’s my Caribbean heritage but I am always looking for something that is exciting that I could get involved in.