A memoir of Olympic glory, the value of mentorship and the courage to champion your own excellence, from the long-reigning world's fastest man, Canadian sprinting legend Donovan Bailey.
From the lush fields of his boyhood in Jamaica, to the basketball courts of Oakville, where he came of age in one of Canada’s most thriving cultural mosaics, to his sprint toward double Olympic gold for Canada in Atlanta in 1996, Donovan Bailey got a long way on natural talent. But he also learned that in the bureaucratic world of Canadian sports, an athlete who didn't come up in the system needed to take charge of his fate if he was going to become the world’s best. As he ascended from outsider to dominant athlete, others didn’t always understand the rigour at work behind Bailey’s confident demeanour. He’d learned from watching Muhammad Ali that a champion needed to act like a champion. But media grew fixated on the sprinter’s immodesty, the likes of which they never saw from Canadian athletes, especially track athletes in the wake of the Ben Johnson doping scandal at Seoul in 1988. Bailey was having none of it, and when he called out Canada's subtle racism and contradicted the prevailing idea most Canadians had of their country, he left in his wake a media uproar and cracked wide open the nation’s moral complacency.
In addition to his unforgettable 100-metre and 4x100 relay gold-medal sprints in Atlanta, Bailey's track career was a litany of records and rare accomplishments, including his audacious 1997 race in Toronto's SkyDome against American 200-metre Olympic champion Michael Johnson to determine who was really the world’s fastest man. There was no disputing the result.
Bailey had been coached in success before he was seriously coached in athletics. Following the lead of his father, a machinist-turned-real estate investor, Bailey became a millionaire by the age of 21, an experience he continues to draw on as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Frank about his dominance on the track and unapologetic for expecting as much of those around him as he expects of himself, Undisputed is an athlete's story that refuses to settle for second best.