CAPE TOWN – After he won gold in the 100m at the Youth Olympics, there was a video going around on Twitter of Luke Davids, comparing him to Usain Bolt.
It wasn’t just about the incredible 10.15 time he ran – although it was wind-assisted – but about the mannerisms that the 17-year-old had picked up from the great Jamaican champion.
The video, posted by the official @Olympics account, showed how Davids did all the little pre-race gestures that Bolt used to do, and even the uncanny similarity of making a slow start and then racing past his main opponent.
The Bolt comparison continued after the victory in Buenos Aires, with Davids raising his index finger to indicate that he is number one.
“What I like about him is his confidence and mental strength. Basically, if you are mentally strong, it will be much easier for you to be at rest,” Davids told IOL Sport about Bolt at the Green Point Athletics Stadium on Tuesday.
“That’s something I would like to take forward in my career – be confident and always mentally strong and not crack (under pressure).”
And there’s another Bolt link, involving chicken, for the youngster from Belhar. There was a famous story of Bolt’s incredible success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics being due to him having consumed 1 000 chicken nuggets from McDonald’s, as he didn’t want to eat the local cuisine.
When a Olympic Legend inspires the Youth. 🥇 #Athletics #BuenosAires2018 #YouthOlympics #GameChangers
Watch the @YouthOlympics LIVE on the @OlympicChannel 👉 https://t.co/aLCNEe0MBV@usainbolt @iaaforg pic.twitter.com/5xd6Xmqc9k
Guess how Davids was convinced to take up athletics seriously? Yes, chicken. “At the age of seven, I was at Parow West Primary. I used to play rugby, and one of the sports teachers saw that I was quick when running with the ball,” he said.
“Then he bribed me with KFC and told me that if I would run this event, there would be something coming next week and he would give me this. And I was like ‘Whoa!’ – and that time KFC was still a lot of chips and big chicken, so I didn’t think twice and I just took it.
“So I was training, and the day came and I ran – I left all the kids behind! I was like, ‘I love this feeling’ and people cheer for me. And basically, that’s where it began for me.”
His mother, Celeste Davids, is a policewoman at Bishop Lavis station, and while she is excited about the gold medal won in Argentina, she has insisted that her son complete school and go on to study – Luke is in Grade 10 at Parow High School.
“There have been obstacles that we’ve overcome (living in Belhar). I am a policewoman and I work with this thing every day. I’m stationed at Bishop Lavis – it’s a relatively gang-infested area. We’ve got kids as young as 11 and 12 years old running with guns,” she said.
“What disappoints me most as a mom is that us as mothers need to take ownership of our kids. It’s entirely up to you as a family and as a parent. Luke was raised, I won’t say strict, but with a firm hand. He’s always been taught to have discipline, to remain humble, and to always have respect. And so far, he’s been doing well.
“Luke knows what’s most important for me is education – he’s got to finish school and go study. Then with regards to his athletics, he must be the best he can be.”
Luke spoke about the thousands of friend requests on Facebook and followers on Instagram that he has received since his golden moment, and it is all a bit overwhelming.
But his mother says the fame hasn’t gotten to her son. Next up for Luke is going back to school on Wednesday, and he will hit the books next year too.
Watch out for him on the world stage in 2020 again, where he will hope to raise the South African flag in triumph again at the junior world athletics championships.