Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Devon Dick | ‘Je suis Bolt’

Published:Thursday | January 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

'Je suis Bolt' should be the rallying cry of Jamaicans in tribute to the influence and impact of Usain Bolt on the Jamaican psyche in 2016, making him the personality of the year. Bolt's remarkable year was marked by three gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the Rio Olympics Games in Brazil. Then in London, there was the glitz launch of a movie on his life titled I am Bolt.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Bolt did what no man had done before - repeating his feat of the Beijing Olympics by winning three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m. Then in Rio, he was able to attempt what no man was ever in a position to do, that is, to win a third consecutive triple gold in 100m, 200m and 4x100 relay. This record cannot be broken for another 16 years; not until 2032. Chances are, it will never be broken.

It will almost be impossible to break that record because that person will have to have no severe injury or other form of setback every four years; it assumes peaking at the right time every four years; it assumes having three other quality relay runners every four years making no mistake in baton changes; it assumes being able to inspire different relay runners towards a gold medal. In addition, as hard as winning three consecutive double sprint gold medals is, it is harder to win three sprint relay gold medals in successive Olympics. Therefore, whenever the Olympics Games are held, Bolt's name will be mentioned with awe. He has established a bar which is above mere mortals. Bolt is a symbol of excellence, hence, as Jamaicans, when we say 'Je suis Bolt' it means we support and strive for excellence.

Bolt is the classic rags-to-riches story. He is from rural Jamaica. He went to a country high school which was not a track and field powerhouse. Against all odds, he became the greatest sprinter of all time through hard work, discipline and determination. He is one resilient Jamaican with whom all can identify.

To have a film being made about one while competing, and ensuring that it has a nice ending, shows his ability to withstand intense pressure. Such pressure normally 'buss' pipe. However, not Bolt. He was confident, and he conquered the world.




Perhaps the crowning feature of Bolt is his swagger. He was never afraid of the USA track stars. Even when entering a championship not in the best shape, due to injury, he always believed in his God-given ability and that he could triumph over adversity. Bolt expressed himself wisely. He was smart. Recently, a reporter asked him what he thinks of Donald Trump; he was coy and said he will become the next president of the USA. Bolt believed in self-expression. He defined himself as a legend after London Olympics it and he was not afraid to say so. He was comfortable to hit his chest after winning the 100m gold at the Beijing Olympics, whether or not the IOC chief liked it. He expressed himself before and after his races in his own way and own Jamaican style.

By saying 'Je suis Bolt', it does not mean we have to agree with his every statement and action. Bolt has feet of clay, with two of his notable errors being the choice he made for his favourite dancehall artiste and his cloying support of Manchester United Football Club.

However, as 2016 Personality of the Year with his global impact, and as the symbol of the Jamaican spirit we say, 'Je suis Bolt', while he says "I am Bolt".

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'.

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