Bolt win brings joy to JamaicaBy: MARK CUMMINGS
SHERWOOD CONTENT – When Usain Bolt lunged over the line comfortably ahead of a strong field in the Olympic 100-metre final wild cheers erupted across Sherwood Content.
This small farming community in Jamaica, a short distance up country from Montego Bay, is proud of its most famous son and keen to impress on reporters that there was never any doubt of Bolt’s victory.
“To the world! I am on top of the world,” cried Bolt’s aunt, Lillian Bolt-Smith, as jubilation erupted in the seconds after the race.
All around her relatives and well-wishers decked out in Jamaica’s national colours shared their joy at Bolt’s blistering performance, an emphatic defence of his Olympic title and his title as the world’s fastest man.
And the celebrations were not confined to Bolt family homes, cheering could be heard from rum bars around the town as a community reclaimed its bragging rights for another four years.
Local sports fan Joseph Kerr said he was “elated and filled with joy” but insisted he was “not surprised”, boldly predicting that Bolt would go on to smash the 9,6 second mark once again.
In Sunday’s race, Bolt made a hesitant start but left the field for dead after 60 metres to win by two metres in 9,63 seconds, slower only than his world record of 9,58 seconds set in 2009.
“Usain is a cut above the rest, and has an added speed dimension that sets him apart,” Kerr declared.
Bolt had not been the only Jamaican in the race. His compatriot and training partner Yohan Blake, long tipped as his eventual successor, claimed silver after equalling his own personal best of 9,75 seconds.
But in Sherwood Content they were not quite ready for their hero to pass the baton. “I knew Bolt would be the one to beat,” grinned another local resident, sipping on a white rum.
Celebration spread from Sherwood Content down to Jamaica’s northern coast as a huge impromptu motorcade of cheering fans snaked 16 kilometres through the green hills of Trelawny Parish to Falmouth.
“It’s Bolt’s time again. We still have the fastest man in the world,” a fan shouted as the convoy disgorged into Water Square in the port.
Bolt summed up his performance saying he was “one step closer to being a legend”.
In the neighbouring parish of St James, Blake’s family celebrated his silver medal and his promise to keep Jamaica at the forefront of world sprinting.
“I am very proud of him. He did us and Jamaica well. It’s a great achievement considering that he is going to the Olympics for the very first time,” said Yohan’s father, Shirley Blake.
The elder Blake was among a small group of family members and friends who watched the race on television at the family’s Bogue Hill residence.
Minutes before the race Yohan’s sister Danietta Blake admitted she was “a little nervous, because this is a top race.
“There are a lot of good athletes in it, but I prayed about the race and I am hopeful that God will answer my prayer,” she said. Family members barely had time to chant “Go Yohan! Go Yohan!” before the dash was over.
Bogue Hill and St James were not disappointed, however, that their man came in second to Bolt, for they believe Yohan still has more to give, and may even win gold before he returns from London.
“I believe that he will take the 200-metre title. That will be his race,” his father said confidently.