BERLIN (Reuters) - Puma <PUMG.DE> could make Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt the head of its Caribbean business once he retires from athletics, the head of the German sportswear firm was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"Usain Bolt could be even more important for us when he stops running," Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden told the Handelsblatt daily in an interview. "I can even imagine that he could run our business in the Caribbean."
Gulden has previously said Bolt, who has been sponsored by Puma since he was 15, could be just as valuable for the brand off the track, adding he would have more time for product development.
Bigger rival Nike <NKE.N> has built a multi-billion dollar brand with retired basketball player Michael Jordan, while Adidas <ADSGn.DE> still uses former England soccer star David Beckham to promote its products.
Bolt is due to run his last races at the World Athletics Championships in London this week and next - aiming to sign off with a fourth 100m title and a fifth 4x100m relay gold – taking his world haul to 13 to add to his eight Olympic golds.
Bolt, who turns 31 later this month, said earlier this week he was looking forward to a new chapter.
"It's going to be hard, as track and field has been everything for me since I was 10 and it’s been a rush – but we'll see where life takes me."
He intends to stay close to athletics and is eyeing some sort of roving ambassadorial role, inspiring the world's youth to get involved in a sport he says is on the up after reaching "rock bottom" with the Russian doping crisis of two years ago.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Keith Weir)