I am so excited to introduce a unique and super interesting, lively, talkative guest—Ato Boldon!

Track & Field fans will recognize Ato since he is one of the fastest humans of all time who competed in the Olympics back in the ‘90s representing Trinidad and Tobago (he also has eight global medals). After retiring from elite competition, Ato transitioned into an amazing and lengthy career in the broadcast booth and he has worked as the lead broadcaster for NBC Track & Field for 17 years. I am not kidding when I say I consider him to be the single best commentator in the world in any sport, and it was actually because of a Track & Field event I attended (the Diamond League Finals in Eugene, Oregon) that I was able to connect with Ato since I happened to bump into him on my flight!

Thanks to that event, I was able to connect with him and interview him about his life and career: growing up in Trinidad and Tobago and later, New York and California, how he never lost a single race to another collegiate athlete, the injury and car accident that cut his athletic career short and how he transitioned into his second, still fulfilling career, the preparation and focus that goes into being a great broadcaster, coaching elite athletes and NFL players, and more!

Keep up with Ato by following him on Instagram and X (Twitter).


Even if you are not a track and field fan, you will enjoy Ato Boldon, one of the world’s most accomplished athlete and sports broadcaster. [00:45]

Ato has an interesting story to tell about his rise into the sport. [04:07]

Some young athletes do not start out with the natural talent or physical features necessary to become champions. [08:34]

It is difficult to know or see what potential there is in a young athlete. [12:24]

Ato’s formative years as an athlete were in the US.  What would his story have been had he stayed in the Caribbean competing with those runners? [16:38]

It is difficult to be a professional in the sport of track and field. The competition with the world’s best is important, even more so than the color of the medal. [20:41]

Sports is about overcoming what life throws at us. [26:47]

How do the athletes’ times from a generation ago compare with today’s? Shoe technology has much to do with the new records. [30:20]

Usain Bolt has a reputation of being lazy in training rather than wisely resting more. What are Ato’s thoughts about Usain? [34:18]

Seven Steps, Drive Phase, are examples of coaching on running form in 1995. [39:07]

Ato’s career took a sudden turn after injuries sustained in an auto accident. He talks about learning to be a broadcaster. [41:32]

What does the future schedule look like for Ato? [58:34]



We appreciate all feedback, and questions for Q&A shows, emailed to podcast@bradventures.com. If you have a moment, please share an episode you like with a quick text message, or leave a review on your podcast app. Thank you!

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B.Rad Podcast:

Brad (00:00:00):
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three world-ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype, hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.

Ato (00:00:38):
Now. How about can you do it with, you know, 5 billion people watching? That’s the challenge at the Olympics, and that’s why.

Brad (00:00:45):
Hey, listeners, I am so excited to introduce a unique and super interesting and super lively, talkative guest. His name is Ato Boldon and track and field fans will recognize him as one of the fastest humans of all time. He competed back in the nineties for Trinidad and Tobago, representing them in three Olympic games. He has eight global medals. In the Atlanta Olympics he went bronze, bronze in the 102 hundred in Sydney. He went bronze, silver. He was world champion at 200 meters, so competing at the highest level, running some of the fastest times in human history. And what’s really cool about Ato is after he retired from elite competition, he transitioned into an amazing and lengthy career in the broadcast booth, where his performances are certainly rivaling what he did on the track. He has been the lead broadcaster for NBC track and field for 17 years.

Brad (00:01:47):
And every broadcast he is full of energy, excitement, true, honest enthusiasm, and has tremendous knowledge about all aspects of track and field that he shares in a beautiful manner with the audience. I’m not kidding when I consider him to be the single best commentator in the world in any sport. So even if you’re not a huge track and field fan and you tune in to listen to Ato throw down his unique style, you are going to enjoy the broadcast tremendously. I was attending the track and field meet in Eugene, Oregon, the Diamond League finals, one of the greatest track and track meets ever. And, uh, who do I bump into on our airplane flight? But the man himself. So I am so excited to get him on this podcast and talk about his journey as a kid growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, and then moving to New York, and then later California and high school, and excelling in sprinting, but certainly not a world leader as a youth.

Brad (00:02:48):
But he continued to develop. He went over to UCLA, he had a sensational career where he never lost a race to another collegiate athlete that put him right on the center stage after graduation to his wonderful career on the world stage. It was cut short a little bit early by injury and a terrible automobile accident, but what’s nice is how Ato transitioned into his career as announcer. So he is just gonna take us through this, a really interesting story of how athletes can, you know, compete at the highest level, what it’s like to be an elite track and field athlete in the economic circumstances and the challenges of being in an individual sport, and then transitioning over into the broadcast booth and all the preparation and focus and background research that goes into being a great broadcaster. So, you know, traveling the circuit and, and being around it and being a coach of numerous and elite athletes and including a lot of NFL players, which you’ll talk about a little bit. Ato really connects well with the athletes and it shows, it has broadcast. I think you’re gonna get some interesting insights out of this. So on your marks, get set, go with Ato Boldon.

Brad (00:03:58):
Ato Boldon, I’m so glad to catch up with you. Thank you so much for coming on the B Rad podcast, man. You’re a busy guy.

Ato (00:04:04):
My pleasure to be here. Good thing you caught me in the off season.

Brad (00:04:07):
That’s right. Your schedule is incredible and it’s been so dating all the way back to your days as an athlete, and I think you’ve made such a beautiful transition to become an announcer. And I’ve heard you talk before about how your, your passion is for promoting track and field, and of course, when you’re an elite athlete and a world champion, you’re doing that on a global stage. But now you’ve been able to do this for years and years. So, luckily with my, my tooth pulled today, I might have a little bit of trouble talking, but I have a very good guess for that reason because I know we can wind this guy up. Anyone who’s seen NBC sports can talk, but I’d really love to have you take us through your career as a sprinter starting in Trinidad and Tobago, and then you came to America, you had an amazing career at UCLA, you went pro and we’ll take it all the way up to that, that, uh, graceful transition into the announcing booth.

Ato (00:05:02):
Well, let’s, let me, let me start first by correcting you a little bit, Trinidad and Tobago, so that, oh,

Brad (00:05:08):
Excuse me.

Ato (00:05:08):
We don’t offend our, my, uh, my, my twin, twin island sister. What, you know, I, what’s funny is that if, if you would’ve told people that I grew up with in Trinidad, yeah. You know, by the time I come back here in 97, which is nine, yeah, nine years after I left that I was gonna be the country’s first world champion, they would’ve probably have you, they’d have probably had you fitted for some sort of straight jacket. I had run with very little success back home, but it was really when I, I always say my athletic gifts came late and they did. I was, I was a, I was an undersized kid for a long time, maybe until I got to about 15, 16. I moved to New York, I’m playing soccer and, and get discovered by, by Joseph Trpi in, uh, in Queens, New York.

Ato (00:06:02):
I had always felt like I had the will here to be great, but my body hadn’t caught up with my ambition just yet. So I go to New York, I’m playing soccer at a, at a pretty, pretty good level there. High school soccer in New York is not bad. There’s a lot of immigrant kids. So that, that, that certainly raises the, uh, the, uh, the, the level of play because you have a lot of, a lot of great kids coming from the islands and sort of meshing with the ones who of were already here. But once I sort of discovered that I was any good, in 1990 <laugh>, that was it. In two years I was in the Olympics. Um, and it wasn’t that I was great early, I was good. 90, I was good. I was what, third in the state of New York in the, uh, in the, in the, in the hundred I told you.

Ato (00:06:54):
Excuse me. And then, um, by the next year I was third in the state of California, which that’s a big <laugh>. That’s a big difference. I had moved out to California and then, you know, after to UCLA and, and, and the rest is, they say’s history. But I think my passion for track and field is in part because of how global it is. I think as somebody who was an immigrant and discovered the, the, the sport here, I think it’s sort of harken back to, yeah, there’s a big wide world out there. I mean, I, I love NFL football as much as anybody else go Niners, undefeated five and oh, um, <laugh>, but nothing, nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than, uh, more than track and field. I think, in part because I know what it can mean.

Ato (00:07:44):
I mean, look at a, look at a look at a country like Barbados, right? Barbados is just to the north and east of, of Trinidad, Tobago. They have a young lady called Sade Williams, who now has won two consecutive 400 meter hurdle, uh, 202 consecutive, 400 meter medals, um, at the World Championships. They are her country’s first two medals ever. They’re gonna write textbooks about her and, and, and, you know, oh, but it’s only, no, it’s like she went from very, very good junior athlete to, you know, where she is now. And it’s like, I always kind of had this sense of being able to represent my country. Um, and I think that’s what kept me in it. ’cause it wasn’t always easy, particularly making that transition from, from world Junior Champion to who are you at, you know, in the pro reqs.

Brad (00:08:34):
That’s an interesting comment about your childhood that you, you didn’t have immediate success because there’s a common notion that when you are looking at the profound genetic gifts required to have that potential to, to one day be world champion, I would assume on the playground when you’re seven or eight or 12, that you’re torching everyone <laugh>, you know, without the training or the coaching or the components that come in later to get you down from, you know, the raw gifts that you see. What’s the, the, the story, the tale of two high jumpers that David Epstein tells,, Donald Thomas, where they, they took him off the basketball court, right? Took him out to the track in his high tops, and he jumps seven feet the first time he sees a bar. You would assume that’s certainly the case for a hundred meter sprinter. If, if no other athlete

Ato (00:09:22):
You would, if you saw the hill on which I grew up, <laugh>, um, <laugh>, which, which, which seems like as steep a hill as, as, as anybody grew up on up, you would think. Okay, so there’s some conditioning here. Um, I used to run up and down that hill as though it was flat. And I go back there now, I mean, I am 50 this year, but <laugh>, I go back there now and I go, geez, I mean, not run up at 20, 30, 40%. It was a flat out spread. And I think to myself, how many times did you run up this very long, very steep hill as it, it’s almost like you see those goats that are born on the side of a cliff and you’re holding your breath ’cause you go, huh? But to the goat, that’s the only life it knows.

Ato (00:10:11):
Mm-Hmm. So I, you know, I feel like I was being conditioned to potentially be this great athlete one day because it was in there. But like I said, I had to wait because it was, I mean, I, I think it’s right across some old video the other day where I was sort of fooling around with the camcorder the last day of my senior year, and I stepped on the scale. I think I can, what I can make out is that it says 160 because I graduated high school at about 5 ‘8,” 160. So I was, I was pretty small. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But the, but, but to go back to, to sort of your point, it’s not like there weren’t flashes of it. I remember a neighbor coming to my father and saying your son has the potential to be a world beating sprinter. And my father, his head back and laugh like, ah, <laugh>, like, there’s no way, dude.

Ato (00:11:10):
Like, what? Like, I want some of what you’ve been drinking this morning. And of course, you know, uh, Andre Walker, my, uh, my, my ex neighbor in Trinidad, he, you know, he looks tell the tale and he tells anybody, well, listen. It’s like, I saw that first because he looked out of his window, must have been doing something sink. And he looks outside and he goes, look at this little kid just now, mind you, it didn’t, maybe it didn’t look like, you know, the, the fastest man in the world yet. But he clearly, he had some track and field background. He looked outta his window and said, look at this kid just, and I was playing soccer. I was just, you know, like, just having a little, what we call small goal in the Caribbean. We just set up, you know, the little, the little mm-Hmm. Bows on each side. And every, we get a little ball. Sometimes it’s a tennis ball, depending on, on, on what we have. And, he just saw me going back and forth up and down and thought, Ooh, yeah, there, there is something that I am seeing. I don’t know what it is. Yeah. And my dad, my dad thought that was hilarious. Of course, you know, we, we have both lived to sort of mock my father for not, for not believing in me immediately

Brad (00:12:12):
Jumping on the train. If he were a typical overbearing, USA parent, they, they would’ve, you know, signed you up right away and sent you up G Academy or something.

Ato (00:12:22):
Whatever’s the opposite of that. That’s what my dad is.

Brad (00:12:24):
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, clearly there’s a genetic gateway to even dream of racing at NCAA division one level or international level. Um, and do you feel like there’s a large number of kids that perhaps have that potential, but of course they never express it, they get diverged to other sports? Or do you, do you really think, wait a second, if you wanna break 10, 0 0, we’re talking about you gotta bring so much to the, to the first day of the track practice that, um, most people are gonna get, get lifted out.

Ato (00:12:58):
Yeah, I, I think that that’s not something that people are com especially not in 2023, I don’t know that people are comfortable saying, look, <laugh> as my old coaches to say, there’s a reason why there’s a hundred thousand seats in the stands and eight lanes that tells you <laugh>, that tells you where, like, those people that make that final, and this is not just in the hundred, but obviously the hundred is, is so specific and event that Yes. Um, in, in his words as well, you are not getting a Clydesdale or a donkey to win the Kentucky Derby. So yes, there is an element of our, it is, it is born within you. And, and for people like me, I can look at a young child, you know, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and tell the parent there’s something there if, if you wanna Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Ato (00:13:54):
There’s a, there’s a, I got into coaching the last eight years or so because of that sort of frustration of, wow, they don’t even know what, they don’t even know what he or she is. And I can see it. And if that, you know, if that kid gets developed the right way, the sky’s the limit. So, yeah. Um, there is a huge genetic component. There’s a huge, um, but I also think it’s genetics plus other factors. I talked about me, you know, growing up on a, on a, on a hill. I, I can I, when I, even, even at 5′ 8″, 1 60, as I said in high school, I could dunk a basketball really comfortably. I didn’t even, I didn’t know I could, it took me moving to a new high school and kind of getting challenged by all the guys who were sick of, you know, like, you know how high school is. The girls were like, oh my God, there’s this new guy. And he is got this accent. He is from like the Caribbean. He’s like, the fastest thing ever. These guys were like, they had had enough of hearing my name and I am not a basketball player. And I was been in, in, you know, I must have been in gym class some like, I, you know, bet you can’t dunk. And I was like, woo. And I grabbed that ball. What

Brad (00:15:12):
Is dunking? Like,

Ato (00:15:15):
I listen, I, I have seen, I saw that basketball group as recently as last week when I was in San Jose. ’cause I, I went by my high school. I went and I looked and I thought, Hmm. It probably, luckily for me, it probably was not 10 feet. I’m looking, I’m looking at it last week and I thought, you know, this thing’s probably been refurbished, you know, a hundred times since then. But I was pretty, if I had to guess on that day that I dunked my first time, it was probably nine foot 10. Which, and, and the extra two inches probably what saved me.

Brad (00:15:47):
Oh, mercy. So you got to UCLA, you had somewhat of a cred ’cause you’re third in the state. So you were a recruit. You’re looking for wonderful things to happen. I’m sure you were pretty focused and motivated by that time. You have a great program with great coaching. It worked out well for you. And maybe you could describe some of that journey. And then also, uh, when we have a chance, ’cause I know we can fill your brain with a lot of things. You’re used to multitasking on the air. Here’s this amazing phenomenon down in the Caribbean where the athletes are developed, homegrown and they pretty much dominate in terms of population comparison. And so I wonder what would’ve happened to the Ato that perhaps stayed on the islands through those formative years as an athlete?

Ato (00:16:38):
Well, the first thing is that I didn’t go directly to UCLA. I actually went to San Jose City College. There’s a great sort of lessons slash story in that. But I’ll try to keep it brief. Bottom line is I got very big for my britches, my senior year of high school.

Brad (00:16:55):
Hey man, third in the states, no joke. People went,

Ato (00:16:58):
Yeah. But it wasn’t look at just, it wasn’t even just because of that. I was living with my uncle at the time who was like, very well to do bachelor. And I had sort of fallen into his lifestyle and forgotten that I was a, a, you know, a a high school senior and <laugh>. And at the time I was actually supposed to go to, uh, to USC, God forbid. And, um, and USC I remember UCL calling my mother and they were like, there must have been a death in the family or something. ’cause we’ve ne never seen somebody’s GPA fall off this, this hard. I had good SATs. I think it was like 1200, yeah. Had 1200 SAT t scores, 1270 back when it was out, out of 1600 mm-Hmm. So it wasn’t that, but they were really concerned. They were like, what? I was, I just couldn’t be bothered.

Ato (00:17:43):
It was like, it, it’s too busy as soccer star, track star. I was too busy. And, um, and USC made me, um, at, they made me go to, um, the junior college. And then I, and then the, the riots happened and my mother was like, Nope, you’re not going out there. So I ended up one year, ended up being two, and then by then I met John Smith at, uh, at the Olympics and, and ended up going to UCLA. But it’s a good story because it, it’s sort of my lose focus., get a little bit, get a little bit too cocky, a little bit too confident in life, kind of smacking me back, uh, smacking me back down. It’s actually the best thing that could have happened to me, um, in, in retrospect. ’cause I needed that at that time.

Ato (00:18:26):
But by the time I get to, um, by the time I get to UCLA, though, I am so prepared. I, I don’t lose in my junior and senior seasons at UCLA. I don’t lose a single race to a collegiate in anything. I think I took a loss to Mike Marsh, who was a pro at Mount Sac, my junior. I got him back, got him back the next year with, with the mouth sack Mount Sac relays record by some miracle. I still have that <laugh> that, that meat record. It’s probably one of the last three or four meet records I have. But yeah, no, by the time I get to UCLA, I, then I’m laser focused. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I’ve already been to the Olympics. There’s the Olympics coming up in 96, which I know dang well, I can, I can be a factor in. And, and the, the pairing of me and John Smith. John is a very technical, very cerebral kind of coach that fits in directly in line with the way I want to be coached and, and the way I am best coach,ed I think. And, uh, and the partnership results in collegiate records, school records that still stand 20, 27 years later, <laugh>.

Brad (00:19:36):
Oh yeah. They’re carved. You, you see the, the carvings up on top of

Ato (00:19:39):
Stadium and those records. Wait, the PAC 12 records are really not going anywhere now. ’cause that conference is about to dissolve.

Brad (00:19:44):
Oh my goodness. Oh gosh. Don’t get us started.

Ato (00:19:47):
Even, even though in fairness, Andre Degrass got some got, I think, I think he got the hundred record, um, for the PAC 12.

Brad (00:19:55):
Well, it was a good, it was a good run, so to speak, for the PAC 12 in track and field

Ato (00:20:01):
Especially. I, I just, I can’t even fathom in my mind not having that conference around. But yeah, you know, a lot, lot of things that we saw for years, you know. Their football games starting at, you know, 11:00 PM Eastern, sometimes, sometimes later. It’s like the country doesn’t, you know, that that network was always going. That I’ve worked for PAC 12 network, um, on many occasions. I’ve done many PAC 12 championships. But it’s, it’s, it’s really a function of the geography too, that has, that has sort of killed off that conference. If you’d have told me 30 years ago that there’s gonna be a, in your lifetime this conference will essentially dissolve. I’d have said no freaking way. Yeah.

Brad (00:20:41):
Well, the money comes in and anything can happen. So you had this great career at UCLA, your position for the next Olympics, where you, you got onto the podium and, and really took off. But behind the scenes, I’m not sure if a lot of fans are aware of how difficult it is to make a career as a professional track and field athlete, individual sport. You’re not signing with the track and field 49 ERs. You’re just Ato who won a bunch of races in college. So how does that transition, how did it work for you? John Smith was coaching at UCLA and then he was also coaching the, the group that you joined. Or how does it work once you, once you moved past the college ranks?

Ato (00:21:23):
Well, my junior year at UCLA, I got a bronze, which was my country’s first medal at the world championships of any color. And then it was also the, it made me the youngest at the time, person, youngest man to medal in the hundred at world. So I was on a lot of shoe companies radar. Um,

Brad (00:21:43):
Dang, too bad. It wasn’t, uh, during the NAL days or you would’ve been

Ato (00:21:47):
All months

Brad (00:21:47):
Island on campus. Man,

Ato (00:21:49):
I had a conversation yesterday with Asante Samuel the great former NFL quarter, uh, cornerback that lives down here now. His daughter is, uh, is a hurdle and sprint phenom. And, uh, we were saying the same thing. We were like, man, what would we have done in, you know, in the era of nis? Um, but no, I <laugh> I, I had done, I had, because I had, because I had had that bronze already, the next year, you know, breaking the collegiate record, running the fastest time in the world to win the NCAAs and all that stuff, somebody was gonna sign me. It initially looked like Nike. And then I ended up signing with Reebok. I think I signed for like, like 150 grand a year at that time. That was like, what, that was mind blowing money. Now if you were, if you are a college phenom, you could come out of, you could come out of university and get signed for almost a million if you’re in a Red Event, a hundred meter sprinter.

Ato (00:22:52):
Absolutely. You’d, you’d be, you’d be pushing a million. That’s you’s how much the, um, the sport has changed plus inflation from my era un uh, until now. So, no, uh, I would’ve been, I mean, in the way that John Gina, my teammate, would’ve been the number one pick the, the year before in 95, he was world champion. He had broke the collegiate record just like me. I was that number one pick coming out in 96. There was no track athlete coming out that year that you would, could have pointed to and said, you know, this is somebody who would’ve been more in demand. But, um, yeah, I, I couldn’t wait. Got to the Olympics, um, got my two bronze. It really blew the a hundred, the a hundred should have been silver at worst. Mm-Hmm. The 200, the, I always say it’s the most satisfying race, um, of my career because I wasn’t finishing any higher than I did that night.

Ato (00:23:44):
Mm-Hmm. Not beating 1932. And I remember I was a senior in high in uh Oh wow. At university. People forget that. Yeah. Yes. I got the bronze in, in Atlanta. I was a senior in, uh, in college at that time. You don’t see a lot of college seniors getting sprint medals, um, at that age. So I, I, I say that’s, that’s my, um, the, the, the medal I’m most comfortable with. ’cause I wasn’t beating Michael that year, that night. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I was not beating Frankie Fredericks, both of those guys. I had looked up to them for all this time. ’cause they were, you know, they’re about 10 years older than I am. And then here I was in a race with them. I knew nobody else would, would beat me. And, and God knows I was gonna give it my all. And it was a personal best at the time. I think it’s still the fastest I ever ran around a turn. Hmm. But, um, yeah, I wasn’t beating those guys that night. So that’s the one medal of the four Olympic medals that I have. That’s the one I look at. And I go, yeah, that’s the one that you, that’s exactly, you finished where you were seated. The other ones, you know, we can talk about, you know, um, maybe you could have run a little better, but, um, for that night, I wasn’t, I wasn’t, wasn’t getting any higher than third that night.

Brad (00:24:52):
You know, that’s a really beautiful attitude. I think I’m gonna, jump in here where we’re gonna keep going with the storyline. But, you know, as a commentator and part of the production, it feels to me like this, especially with, uh, the USA mentality, you know, our obsession with the gold medals and Simone Biles gonna get a bunch of more gold medals? And Michael Phelps gonna get his 23rd and 24th gold medal. But here’s your story of like, the most tremendous satisfaction of competing at the highest level against the greatest athletes that you looked up to. And, you know, to go home with the biggest smile with a bronze medal, I feel like it should be highlighted more. Because sometimes people are, you know, coming through injuries and difficult times in their career. They want to give up. A lot of times track and field athletes, they aren’t making the, the excellent income that the people at the very top make. And they come back and get fifth in the, in the worlds. And, and no one even pays attention. But it’s, it’s beautiful accomplishments all over the place.

Ato (00:25:53):
Yeah. I think there was a part of me that always looked at the Olympics, and this is not a knock on NBC or ABC or whoever was, was covering the Olympics at the time. Um, I would, I could never have known before I got into the sport, into any Olympic sport. I happened to be in track and field how difficult it is to stand on that podium. And I think that somehow there’s some disconnect with an American audience where they feel like, well, you know, Simone Biles, she came out of the womb and she had this gift, and she’s been doing fetes. She’s been doing pushups since she was a fetus, and she’s just better than everybody else. And she, it’s like, oh, no, no, no, no. So that’s my job, my job. And I think that’s why I stay on a track almost every day if I could, I have to always remind myself, look, the person who’s getting fifth, sixth, seventh in an Olympic final, in any Olympic final is doing the same work, is busting their behinds, is crying, bleeding, sweating every day until this night.

Ato (00:26:57):
And maybe something doesn’t go right or who knows what happens. But you have to find a way to sort of give credit and honor everybody. Yes, of course. You, we have to tell stories and the gold medalist stories usually the one that you’re gonna feature. But I’m telling you, man, this, I mean, we’ve had a guy like Kirani James, for example, and Kirani James, his coach, literally passes away this year, Harvey Glance, at practice coaching him, the last thing he does was, you know, start Kirani on his, on his last run. He collapses. He never recovers. You try to tell me if that guy goes to Worlds and he gets a bronze or he gets fourth that that’s not gonna, of course it’s gonna come up. That’s part of what sports is. That’s what we celebrate. We celebrate, you know, the night that Brett Favre had that great game and his father had died, and the Jordan Flu game sports is about overcoming the stuff that life throws at us. So I’d like to think that when I got there, I mean, yes, we celebrate our medalist and certainly our gold medalist, but we continue to remind the audience, this is not easy. This is not, you don’t fall out of bed and do this at this level. It requires a dedication and a and a commitment and a focus that that really is the best of what humans can do.

Brad (00:28:27):
Mm-Hmm. I remember watching Usain Bolt’s false start in, what’s a debut? And a

Ato (00:28:33):
2011 soft career

Brad (00:28:34):
Comes another gold baby. Let’s see if he can break the record. And then you, you, everyone’s slapped in the face going, oh, this is a game of precision. And no, he cannot sit in the blocks for a half second to be safe and then beat everybody. He’s gonna get sixth if he does that. Oh, it’s, yeah. It’s heavy, heavy stakes up there, man. Okay. So, and

Ato (00:28:54):
The thing is, and the things that everybody’s watching you, that’s, that’s what everybody forgets. It’s like, yeah, it’s one, it’s one thing if you’re gonna, you know, attempt something in your office, and if you don’t do it well, you look left and right and nobody saw that. Yeah. How about can you do it with, you know, 5 billion people watching? That’s the challenge of the Olympics. And that’s why when people with Olympic credentials walk in the room, people almost genuflect. I have been in a room with a guy like Alberto Juantorena now I’m now I’m talking with, with our era, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, Alberto Juantorena for your listeners gets the double in the Olympics in 76. The 400 and the 800 and the 800 was first. Do you understand what that? So that was, that’s that’s almost, that’s almost six of, that’s almost 50 years ago. Wow. You, I’m telling you, when a man walks into a room, people are almost genuflect almost. That’s how revered that sort of an accomplishment is.

Brad (00:29:56):
Not to mention his times, which still get him on the podium in the Olympics are world championships in both events. Incredible.

Ato (00:30:03):
I’m glad you completed that, that, that thought. ’cause that’s the more impressive thing. It’s like a low altitude world record at the time in the war. And I think the 800 was like 1 43. It’s nuts. And I, and I think they were four rounds in both back then. It’s just, it’s like,

Brad (00:30:20):
So yeah, just, we’re, we’re going back in time all that way. And, and back to your career pattern, which was now a generation ago. Unlike some other sports where the, um, you know, the competition is escalated like crazy. I would even argue the NFL when you look at these guys 20 years ago, to now the level of athleticism. But what’s your, what’s your observation there where we’re looking at, um, you know, Bolt’s time is now, what, 15 years old? Is it gonna hold another 15, 20, 30 years? We have the high jump from Costa Dinova that’s held for, what, 40 years or something. And what about that, um, progression or lack thereof in, in the various events?

Ato (00:31:10):
Well, I, I think in part because I never got to play football, I am part of a company called Test Football, which has about, I think as we speak about 70 NFL clients. So I have seen the NFL guys improve in my 15 years now in the, in the business. ’cause you know, I see the linebackers that are like four, four low now. And I go, yeah, that’s why I didn’t play football. ’cause I don’t want him, like, I look at Fred Warner and I go, yeah, I don’t, or Dre Green Law. And I went, I don’t ever want somebody that size and that speed hitting me. I think similarly, just because of the event, the advancements in training and knowledge and, and technology. I mean, these guys do stuff in training that I go, oh yeah, well, I I would’ve loved to have done that. Mm-Hmm. What’s moving our sport ahead really quickly, I think is the shoe technology though. Mm-Hmm. Because since the advent, I mean, certainly in the distances where it seems like there’s a marathon world record every week, um, and a distance world record every month,

Brad (00:32:18):
There’s a girl running, uh, Olympic trials, USA Olympic men’s trials qualifying time in the marathon. Now in the stickler shoes.

Ato (00:32:24):
Right. Crazy, right. I mean, faith ki Yuan’s time is faster than the winning time in, in the 1500 in, uh, in Rio. Um, yeah. Is that, that’s right. It’s just this, this, now the sprints have, have gone forward too, but I think if anything, it’s testament to how good, Bolt was that even with the advent of, of all this shoe technology, that a hundred unchallenged now, the 200 I think is not going, I think the two hundred’s gonna go first because in Noah Lyles, he’s already run 31. He’s within 12 hundreds of a second. I think maybe, which is funny ’cause at the time I thought those were the ones that were gonna last longer. Mm-Hmm. And now I look and I go, well, you know, it is harder to refine a pen than a tractor. Right? <laugh>. So it, it makes sense that the 200 is the one both on the women’s and the men’s side that is getting approached.

Ato (00:33:24):
Meanwhile, the a hundred, not as much. Certainly on the men’s side, I think Bolt’s gonna lose that 200 meter record in the next 15 years. The a hundred will see ’cause 9, 5, 8, that is going to take a special human being. I do not think Noah Lyles has another, I mean, he’s nine eight now. Nine eight low still. I don’t know if he has another three tenths, two and a half tenths in him, I think. But I look at that 200 of that go, Hmm, Noah can go faster. There’s no question to Bogo who got silver at Worlds, who is younger than Noah, a lot younger, can go faster. Um, Arian Knighton, uh, the US phenom who’s already run 19 four, he can go faster. Um, so there’s an enough young talent in that event where I think, um, the 200 men’s world record will go before the hundred.

Brad (00:34:18):
Noah Lyles, so speaking of Bolt, the transcendent athlete, mostly, we immediately see his height. Uh, but I feel like you’re gonna tell me there’s a lot more to it than just being tall. And one of the things I want to ask you about specifically is this characterization that he was lazy into workouts and had to get goaded to complete the whole workout. And I reflect on that, especially coming from the triathlon scene where we overtrained like crazy and, and the people who got a little bit smarter and learned how to rest a little bit would rise up rather than, you know, just keep banging your head against the wall. Maybe that was a positive attribute where the highest progression or the evolution of athletic training is the guy who’s dancing in the clubs in the off season to help recalibrate from that intensity of, of working so hard when it’s time to peak for a major meet.

Ato (00:35:10):
I’ve had enough conversations. He and I, for some reason have just ended up in extended, in places where we are not separated for extended periods of time, airport lounges, aircraft adjacent seats. So I have talked to him enough the last time I sat next to him for an extended time. We were both on the same flight going into worlds last year in Eugene. And I, look, I can, I certainly was not a coach of, of his of his sort of level. But I, you know, I I have a couple world titles of my own, um, albeit juniors. I think I sifted through what he said and what he wanted to say to me enough to know this. Look Usain Bolt is an incredibly gifted athlete. The guys who do that kind of stuff for a living in terms of technique and, and, and, you know, stride length and stride frequency and all that stuff.

Ato (00:36:11):
Say he’s the best ever, like, born onto this earth genetic freak. But his coach essentially would, would tell you and and told me he was, it’s you, it was a question. Yes. He loved the party. That’s not, that doesn’t make him uncommon as a young Jamaican male. Yes, he loved the party. Yes, he loved nightlife and all that, but he said he worked very hard. There’s no way you don’t get those kinds of results. He just, I think, would like to have seen him string together more years of consistent training and maybe listen to him a little bit more in terms of how to attack that 200. He felt like he should have been either 19 one low or maybe 19 zero if he’d have done it his way. And he feels like the reason why people are getting close is because, um, maybe Usain did it more the Ussein way than, than the Glen Mills way.

Ato (00:37:12):
But, um, I consider myself fortunate just for my, my own track and field loving eyes as well as for my career that I got to that got, I got to be around for his career because I got to see things that I, as a sprinter only dreamed about it, you know, at a pro at pro dimensions of 5 9, 1 75 to see a guy that height. And, and, and I know a lot of people go, oh yeah, well, he’s tall. There’s not a lot of tall guys that have run those sorts of times. His genetic gift is, he has that height, he’s six five, but he has the ability to turn over that big wheel with the speed of somebody my height. So, you know, you know, Proud Mary, big wheel keep on turning when that, when a big wheel is turning, it is going to consume lots of ground, it’s gonna swallow ground with each revolution. You combine that with the ability to turn that wheel over very quickly. And you have 19, 19 and 1958. And, and the way that he revolutionized, um, both of those events. So that’s the way I try to describe it for, for people who are not as, as into all the, the, the minutia of spreading as I am.

Brad (00:38:29):
But the technique at, at the, at the highest level is so crucial and there’s so much behind that where you’re not really getting in the blocks and going a hundred percent and fighting to the finish. So maybe you could talk a little about that and how you and John Smith and the rest of your group there in Los Angeles were, you know, became the, the ultimate technicians, helped, helped kind of evolve things like the drive phase and all all this terminology that you, you cough up during the, um, during the meets, which are so important to understand that, you know, it’s not guys just racing each other to the, to the ice cream truck. It’s very nuanced.

Ato (00:39:07):
Yeah. Um, if you look at like early Santa Monica in the mid to late eighties, you can see elements of it. They were not, they did not have their eyes fixed on the finish line in the hundred in the first maybe 2, 3, 4 steps. Um, my coach was around that ’cause he was a coach at Santa Monica. And then he sort of break broke off and did his own thing. And I remember my junior year we were working on this thing called Seven Steps, and it was that you were gonna stay. And I remember, you know, him giving me the examples, your car stalls on the, on the freeway, and you have to push it, think of the angle that you wanna push it from, and that’s the angle we’re gonna push from. And that, that made it very relatable to all of us in terms of, you know, how you would, how you would approach that, that angle, that relative angle.

Ato (00:39:58):
And I think I, I was, I was really the beneficiary of myself and Maurice, I think it’s why we had such good Drive Phases is because we came to John right when he had to figure that out. And because he had to figure it out at a very preliminary stage, he was able to, to sort of teach us as he was learning it. So 95, I look back at like my PAC 10 back then championships, and yeah, I’m, I look different to everybody else in the race. Everybody else was just kind of standing straight up as everybody else would do back then. And you can see me doing my seven steps by the next year. It’s turned into this thing called the Drive Phase, which of course, everybody in track and field knows what that is now, and they know what it looks like.

Ato (00:40:40):
But we were working on it back then and working on maybe extending it out a little further. And it, it’s so funny to me to go all over the world now and watch people do that technique. And I, I look sometimes and just to myself, I go look at this thing that we were literally at UCLA piecing together. I guess this is how Dick Fosbury used to feel. Mm-Hmm. Where he goes, look at the rest of the planet doing this thing that I conceived in my head or that I, that I perfected in my head. That’s how it feels for me when I see people. Like when I watch Christian Coleman, I go, geez, like, like that is the evolution of whatever it is we thought we were trying to do 30 years ago, because he has such a phenomenal start. But yeah, it was exciting to be, you know, around this culture was, it was literally changing the, changing the event forever.

Brad (00:41:32):
So you had this wonderful run at the top eight global medals, your peak years on the circuit, and then I think, you had some misfortune injuries, automobile accident, and you, um, uh, may, maybe it was an early end. You can talk about that. But then tell us how the kind of the, your career, uh, wrapped up and transitioned.

Ato (00:41:54):
Yeah. By 2002. So now I am, what, 29, um, in 02, I have a drunk driver hits me, uh, head, head on in Trinidad. And that is effectively the end of my career, even though I don’t retire for another, I dunno, 16 months. Um, but before that, in 99 I was injured. I had a hamstringing injury, and I could not I could not compete at the severe world championships that year. Maurice Green would win the hundred and the 200 that meet. But my broadcast career effectively started there. I wanted to, you know, sit at home and feel sorry for myself in Los Angeles. My manager said, hell no, you will, you will pack several suits and you will come here. You know how when we go to the fights in Vegas, how all the fighters are there, well, this is a world championship, you will come.

Ato (00:42:45):
And I, I was like, ugh. Got on the plane very reluctantly. And the BBC said, um, oh, he is here. He’s obviously not running. Does he wanna come sit in? It’s funny ’cause somebody made me look up that, the reviews from that show, and the review literally says that coverage has been otherwise, you know, not noteworthy except for this, this kid that they brought on. I thought, wow, I’ve never seen that it, and now I’m 20 years into my own broadcast career. So I went on the BBC and, and the reviews were good. And, and you know, that’s not a bad thing to be able to put at the top of your resume once you, you know, once I retired, so, got injured in 02 and then by 04 um, I got my four by one team to the finals of the Olympics.

Ato (00:43:34):
And I said, yep, that’s it. I’m 30, I’m out. And everybody said, oh, please, you’ll be back next. And I went, Nope, I’m done. I didn’t like being injured all the time and, and post-accident, I was never the same. Every time I’d get to top end speed, something would, something would feel like it’s, it’s coming undone. It, you know, the, the leg never healed. Right. It, it was twisted it, I don’t know, but whatever I, I know for sure that on that day in July in 02, that was the end of my career. I didn’t figure it out until, um, as I said, 16 months later. So yeah, I walked away and, um, didn’t know what the heck I was gonna do. Got into politics, um, the year after, it was a senator very briefly. And then when, uh, when CBS came calling to do the NCAAs that year from I believe Sacramento in 05, that was it. I was, I was in, um, I bothered <laugh> NBC for about two more years. And they, I don’t know if at the time they thought they were gonna hire me or not, but they were very content to that CBS groomed me. And I started to do some E-E-S-P-N stuff at the time too, just here and there. And then in 07 NBC came calling and, um, my first Olympics was oh eight. The rest is history.

Brad (00:44:52):
Oh, so you had a bit of a break. You got on the air in Seville to, to great reviews, and then you tried to race for a few more years, uh, get involved in politics. Were you doing any commentating or practicing at home during that time? Nope.

Ato (00:45:08):
Okay. So, so in 90, yeah, so in 99, just for that, you know, that week they had me and I wasn’t calling races. And I, I know that, um, sometimes the lay person, it seems like the same thing. The people who, there’s one level of the sport where, you know, I’m in the studio and I say, yeah, I think the 49’Rs are gonna win today because they’re playing blah, blah, blah. That is one level of broadcasting in Mm-Hmm. The top level is what Troy Aikman does. It’s what Tony Romo does. It’s what I do. There’s a difference between that and actually calling a game, the preparation is completely different. Mm-Hmm. It’s in a studio. You don’t have to have to prep the same way. So yeah, between 99 and 05, I did a little bit of, because what I remember what happened is that in 2000, for example, the BBC covers the Olympic trials for the US.

Ato (00:45:58):
So I remember being in Sacramento, I actually interviewed Marian Jones in Sacramento, in at the Olympic trials in, in 2008. Um, I also remember, uh, excuse me, in 2000 and, and four, uh, excuse me, 2000. Yeah. Because it would’ve been the, the year after Seville. So it was 2000 Olympics. I remember interviewing Marion Jones in, uh, in 2000 before the, the whole drive for five before that whole thing fell apart. So, um, yeah, I had, I had, but it was like, I was doing one thing a year, two things a year. It wasn’t like I had, you know, I was, I was churning them out. So, and then even when I was doing the NCAAs 05 and 06, that was one meet a year. Mm-Hmm. So it wasn’t like I was, I was getting a lot of reps once NBC hires me in the summer of 07 then I’m working quite a bit, and then of course from 08 and I’m doing everything.

Ato (00:46:51):
So yeah, it was, it was kind of few and, and far between at the time. And that used to hurt me because I used to feel like it took me the first hour to really warm up and get back into my group. I don’t know how I did that. Not like now I love doing the Diamond League because it gets me, it keeps me sharp. It’s like, yeah, I remember it happened, you know, last Wednesday, last Friday. I can’t imagine now being able, having to do pro meets without like doing a meet every week. ’cause it does, there is a sharpness that you keep when you broadcast, you know, out once a week, twice a week.

Brad (00:47:23):
So I guess you sort of felt like a natural when you just stepped onto the, wrapped up the, put on the mic in in 99. But when you started to see this as a viable career opportunity, um, what is your, what is your methodology? I mean, as a sprinter, you’re going to extremely precise and, and focus preparation. How does that translate over to announcing or are you just, are you just the natural, are you, uh, you, you sit on the beach and then <laugh> get on the plane and, and start talking about athletes?

Ato (00:47:56):
Yeah. Right. Uh, I think there are, I look, I come from a family of talkers. The kind of guys and women, uh, my aunts who can, you can put them on a stage and they will have an audience kind of in their palm for an hour on any subject. That’s the kind of family I come from. So this is not, this is not something that’s unique to me, and I’m always very observant of that. Having said that, though, I think your ego allows you to think that somehow you are gifted enough where everything that proceeds out of your mouth is somehow going to be relevant or interesting or necessary. So you spend the first three to four to five years, I think, of any broadcast career, and certainly I did, trying to sound like the television version of yourself, the voice of your, the, the version of yourself that exists in your head.

Ato (00:48:55):
I think only in the last five or six years of my career have, are people getting my authentic self. And it’s funny ’cause people who have been listening to me for 20 years goes, man, I’ve never heard you like this before. It’s like, it feels like you’re having fun for the first time. It feels like something’s changed. And I think to myself, yeah, um, I have to credit my producer who said, I don’t, I really want the version of you that maybe we get in production meetings that we get in the car ride. I mean, maybe without all the expletives, but <laugh>. But, but, but I, I want you to be that sort of, you, you know, uber-fan, uber-knowledgeable. There’s nothing that you’re gonna see that, that you haven’t yourself been through and you can’t convey to the audience. And that changed my, that changed all of how I broadcast Mm-Hmm.

Ato (00:49:49):
Because I think that there is an element of, oh, I mean like what’s, what am I gonna see that I can’t? Like, and you realize no broadcasting, particularly in America where you’re always headed to commercial at some point, <laugh> there is, yeah. I mean, look on the BBC, you aren’t going to commercial. Ah. So if you have an extended thought and it gets a little long and you, it’s fine. ’cause you’re not going to commercial, you know, you have to make room for somebody else to talk. But in, in the states, you’re always going to commercial. And I think for that, I had, I had to learn when the best thing you can say right in this moment is absolutely nothing. If you’d have told me at the first yas count was like, what? No, no, no, no, no. I have to say something here.

Ato (00:50:35):
Look, it’s a big no because your voice can’t add to it. What just happened on this track? Just let it breathe. Let it breathe for 30 seconds and you tell me if that doesn’t look better 15 years from now or 15 minutes from now. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I had to be convinced of that because again, I think a lot of very talented broadcasters get into the booth and they go, I know this sport. I’ve lived this sport and there’s nothing that’s gonna happen that I can’t express. It’s like, okay, good. That doesn’t mean that we need to hear that every look. I’m a, I’m a big Tony Romo fan and I feel like that’s kind of what, ’cause early Tony Romo, I used to enjoy on a level where I went, oh my gosh. And I’m like, oh, and he’s my category at the Emmy’s and he just made my category that much harder and all of that stuff.

Ato (00:51:29):
And I feel like in the last couple years he’s, I’m like, no, this is not the Tony that we had before. I feel like he’s gonna, I feel like he’s gonna have a resurgence in his career. ’cause he’s so, he’s such a talented broadcaster. I just feel like he’s gotten off on one of these tangents that maybe I did when I was at that stage in my career. And somebody’s gonna like set him straight. And I’ve seen some of the criticism that that, that he’s taken over the last, I dunno, season or two. And I go and I think, yeah, he, he’ll be back. ’cause I think he, there’s a tendency to feel like, oh yeah, I can, I can go in there and just ad lib or whatever and it’s all gonna be great ’cause it’s coming out of my mouth. That’s, that would be a huge mistake. <laugh>.

Brad (00:52:09):
Well, that’s really well put. I mean, you’re, you’re, you, you don’t wanna be putting on a show. You wanna be the real you. Yes. However you are putting on a show and yes, you’re, you’re, you’re entertaining the audience, so you have to kind of straddle that fine line that’s That’s

Ato (00:52:25):
Fine, fine. It’s a razor’s edge. It’s that fine.

Brad (00:52:28):
Now, do you do like the NBA referee type of, you know, recap where they, they, um, they show them every call they made and they score them on a percentage score <laugh>? Yeah. It’s, it’s gnarly. I mean, they put together a highlights tape of every time you blew the whistle and they, they give you, you know, you have to be 86% or higher with your correction. Otherwise you go get, get relegated. But I wonder if you, I mean, this, this could be like a personal preference, but are you scrutinizing your own broadcast? Or have you had enough of Eugene after eight days and want to get your head clear?

Ato (00:53:03):
There’s certain rules to when, to how things look on television. Sometimes things don’t go well, or there’s a mistake that you make or somebody makes, and, and, and you think, oh my gosh, how’s this happening on live television? You go home and if it was a, in your head it was a 10, when you actually watch it live on the air, sometimes it’s a three, sometimes it’s a four, it’s a five. It’s never, almost never, unless you mistakenly drop an f-bomb or something, it’s never going to be as bad in your in real life as it was in your head. That’s the first thing. Hmm. The second thing for me is that I, nobody’s gonna critique. Look, I <laugh>, nobody’s gonna critique their, their themselves, um, harder than I will. Um, I don’t ignore criticism. There’s sometimes that somebody will, will somehow get a direct message to me or, or some kind of comment to me and I go, oh, that’s complete BS.

Ato (00:54:00):
But there’s other times where somebody goes, Hey, your 200 meter calls, you’re saying the same thing for the whole meet. I go, Ooh. And you go back. And I go, yeah, I can’t. And not only will I do it, I will go to my colleagues in the booth and say, Hey, we’re doing this the same way every time. I really have, I really made it a point, don’t get comfortable, don’t get enamored with your last meet. Don’t get enamored with your last call so that we do not, um, fall into some of, you know, some of the traps. I think that a lot of broadcasters Hmm. Um, fall into, you know, and don’t get in love with the sound of your own voice. That’s the number one thing. It’s like sometimes shutting up is fine.

Brad (00:54:48):
Well said, man. One of the things that’s you’re, you’re really commended for and, and the allure of listening to is you have that, um, that high level information experience and also the, it feels like, you know these athletes, I know you travel with them, spend a lot of time with them, and you, you provide that, um, you know, that that backroom info now, is that sort of a nuanced thing where you’re hanging out with these people and you say how your training going? Well, I broke it with my boyfriend. He is been a real asshole. And so my, my training’s struggling. And you’re gonna kind of try to get, have the audience get to know these people that are friends and, and personal, you know, coworkers. How do you, how do you deal with that?

Ato (00:55:33):
You don’t know how, you don’t know how dead on that question is, particularly with the boyfriend thing. Um, it is a fine line. I have not always played it perfectly. I’ll tell you what happens to me. Sometimes I will be, there’s, there’s very little in this industry that I don’t know way in advance coaching change breakup, because the coaches are all my friends. The agents are all my friends, and yes, I have great relationships with most of the athletes. So I get fed all this information on, especially during the season, and I have to sometimes remember, oh, this is for broadcast use. You’re not supposed to know this at all. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And occasionally in the heat of the moment, um, I think, was it last year? Yeah, last year I leaked something and it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t it wasn’t a huge deal if you weren’t the athlete, but essentially I was saying, look, so-and-so athlete is about to switch to this event and I was supposed to be out.

Ato (00:56:39):
Yet it turned out being a good thing. The meet promoters all went, oh my gosh, well, if that’s the case, then I want them in in my meet next year, blah, blah, blah. But yes, there is a very fine line that I have to walk between what I’m supposed to know, what I can reveal, and, you know, the, the, the, just the other things that I have to keep, I mean, there’s certain, there, there are big drug busts that are coming that I know months in advance. And it’s like, Hey, if this leaks we’re coming to you, ’cause you are the only person that that knows this other than, you know, the, the agent and the coach or whatever. So yeah, it is interesting being me sometimes. ’cause I look at my phone and I’m like, oh yeah, you know who that is.

Ato (00:57:23):
That’s so and so executive from, from this shoe company asking me if, you know, what, what’s sort of the, what’s the barometer out there for Athlete X that they’re thinking of signing? Yeah. It’s, it is a, it’s, it’s sometimes very interesting to be me because of, of sort of where I, where I sit in this sport, but I don’t take it for granted. And, and, and I’m glad that you think that, um, you know, I have all this knowledge. It’s not because I’m doing that like a, you know, oh, I want to prepare because I’m an analyst. That’s because I genuinely love the sport. It’s almost like the, uh, the Rosie Perez character and white men can’t jump. Mm-Hmm. That was like, I have, you have to get me on jeopardy. ’cause I have all this stuff in my head. <laugh>, what am I gonna do with it? I have to get on jeopardy with, that’s how I am with, with my track and field stats and, and, and knowledge and, and Olympic history was like, I might as well be on television because I have all of this stuff in my head from, you know, dating back to 1936 and before. So I am lucky that I am employed in a job where I get to use all this stuff in my head. <laugh>,

Brad (00:58:34):
If you weren’t, you’d probably be on YouTube, building the auto network and, and taking viewers away from NBC. So everybody, everybody wins here, man. Everybody wins. So what is the, the schedule like, I mean, do you have, um, you must feel like you’re still an athlete heading to all these meets. Do you get butterflies before the, the cameras turn on? Is it, is it a good proxy for what you did before? Or do you just feel comfortable moving on to a whole different experience in life?

Ato (00:59:04):
Well, we don’t, um, my generation of broadcasters is the first that we have not look, we’ll go to the Olympic trials Olympics, the big ones. Prefontaine, right. The ones that are domestic in the United States. We don’t do that Diamond League circuit anymore. Well, I shouldn’t say we don’t do it by following the, we don’t have to travel with them. So one of, one of the things that the pandemic produces the ability to, to broadcast from home. So when you hear me do, uh, you hear me doing a Diamond League broadcast, I am sitting right where I am right now.

Brad (00:59:40):
You’re not in, you’re not in Qatar? Oh my

Ato (00:59:43):
Goodness. No. I’m on a VPN, I’m on A VPN back to Stanford, Connecticut, which is our headquarters, and we are broadcasting sometimes live on like a three or five second delay. And one guy’s in Eugene and the distance analyst is in Michigan or Iowa somewhere. And I’m in Florida and we are doing a, and the producer and everybody else is in, uh, Stanford, Connecticut. And we are doing a live broadcast. So that has, I mean, that has changed my world because I used to always have to get on a plane. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to go. At first it was LA and then it was Denver, and then it was Stanford, Connecticut. Now we do our production meetings on Zoom. We fire up our, I just sent the equipment back a couple days ago. We, uh, they send me a a kit, I connect it to my router and I’m broadcasting from home. So that part, that part has, has made my life a lot easier. Mm-Hmm.

Brad (01:00:36):
And you get to pursue your coaching passion as well, so,

Ato (01:00:40):
Right. Tell

Brad (01:00:41):
Us about that.

Ato (01:00:41):
And certainly the first three months of the year when I’m, you know, um, that’s, that’s my time for my NFL to be guys. Um, yeah. It allows me to not have to leave, you know, I can, I can work those guys out all day. And not that there’s a lot of, uh, Diamond League meets going on at that time of the year, but, um, you know, you know, occasionally there’s a world indoors or, or something like that, that I have to call it means that I don’t have to detail, which is, which is great. I’ve, I am best. It’s the greatest blessing that my sport has given me. I have seen the world man, as of, you know, <laugh>. There’s always, there’s always some track meet in, you know, in some corner of the world. But, uh, I, I like being at home now.

Brad (01:01:22):
Well, yeah, you’ve earned some, some home time and Yes, uh, there’s, there’s no, uh, no decline on the broadcast quality, so I didn’t even know that was, I didn’t even know that was happening. Yeah. Ato, I appreciate you so much on behalf of all track and field fans, you’re doing a great job. Keep up, keep promoting the sport. Thank you. Thanks for joining me, and I look forward to seeing you out there at the meet again or jumping on the jumping on the plane and bump into my favorite broadcaster.

Ato (01:01:50):
Great to be on with you, man. All the best to you as well.

Brad (01:01:52):
Thank you, Ato. That’s a wrap people. Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad Podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email, podcast@bradventures.com and visit brad kearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.




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