Away from Olympic track, Bolt inspires a Rio favela

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Olympian Profile: Usain Bolt

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 19 (Reuters) - One year before millions watched him secure a record third 100 meter gold medal at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Usain Bolt lined up at a very different track in Rio.

It was a Thursday in April 2015 and the Jamaican ran the red track that is the pride of Mangueira, where young athletes from the favela, or slum, of 15,000 people train and dream.

In a city reviled for its inequality and where the $12 billion spent on the Olympics are said to have done little to help the poor, Bolt's visit is a small example of the legacy Rio's Games might still have for aspiring athletes.

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Usain Bolt's visit to a Rio slum
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Usain Bolt's visit to a Rio slum
Felipe Roberto da Silva, 16, who trains in the Mangueira Olympic Village, poses outside his house in Vila Vintem slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Anderson Guilherme, 16, who trains in the Mangueira Olympic Village, poses outside his house in Jacare neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. "Everything Bolt does I try and imitate to see if one day, if God wishes, I could be a third of what he is," Guilherme said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dayelle dos Santos, 17, who trains in Mangueira Olympic Village, poses outside her house in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Anderson Guilherme (R), 16, attends a training session in Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. "Everything Bolt does I try and imitate to see if one day, if God wishes, I could be a third of what he is," Guilherme said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Elias da Silva Brito (nicknamed Bolt), 19, who trains in the Mangueira Olympic Village, poses inside his house in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jamaican Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt (C) runs with youths at the Mangueira slum Olympic center, ahead of the "Mano a Mano" challenge, a 100-meter race, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Vitor Soares, 16, who trains in the Mangueira Olympic Village, poses next to his house in Cajueiro slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. "Bolt's determined, focused, he offers inspiration to everyone who's starting out," Soares said.Ã"In 2020 he'll have to watch out because I'm coming."ÃREUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jamaican Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt poses with youths at the Mangueira slum Olympic center, ahead of the "Mano a Mano" challenge, a 100-meter race, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Beatriz de Souza Santos, 13, attends a training session in the Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tiago Cantanhede, 15, attends a training session in Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tiago Cantanhede, 15, who trains in the Mangueira Olympic Village, poses outside his grandmother's house in Escondidinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Athletes attend a training session in Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Youths attend a training session in the Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Cristal Soares reacts during a training session in the Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Athletes attend a training session in the Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dayelle dos Santos, 17, attends a training session in Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Athletes attend a training session in the Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Elias da Silva Brito (nicknamed Bolt), 19, attends a training session in Mangueira Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "YOUNG BOLT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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One such athlete is 16-year-old Anderson Guilherme, who has trained with the program for six years.

In green lycra shorts and sunglasses, Guilherme's torso is a ripple of lean muscle as he stands by a wall painted in the pink and green of Mangueira's famous samba school.

"Everything Bolt does I try to imitate, to see if one day, if God wishes, I could be a third of what he is," he said on a recent Reuters visit.

The track lies between two railway lines, not far from the iconic Maracana soccer stadium where the Olympic opening ceremony was held. Many Mangueira residents watched the opulence of the ceremony's fireworks with a mix of pride and sadness at their exclusion, from their hollow brick homes that cling to the hillside.

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But for Vitor Soares, 16, who pulls the champion sprinter's signature "lightning bolt" pose, having the world's greatest athletes in his home city is an inspiration.

"Bolt's determined, focused, he offers inspiration to everyone who's starting out," Soares said.

But in four years' time, Soares' inspiration may just turn into competition.

"In 2020 he'll have to watch out, because I'm coming."

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