Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Stars salute Bolt

Published:Monday | June 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment and Robert Bailey
Usain Bolt is received by a guard of honour at the Racers Grand Prix at the National Stadium in Kingston, on Saturday.
Mo Farah (centre) celebrates with Usain Bolt's signature pose as he wins the 3,000-metre event ahead of Jamaica’s Kemoy Campbell, who placed third (left), and Pat Tierman at the Racers Grand Prix at the National Stadium on Saturday.

As the track and field world stopped to watch Usain Bolt run his last race on home soil at the JN Racers Grand Prix 'Salute To A Legend' at the National Stadium on Saturday, a number of the sport's biggest stars who were there to witness the moment expressed gratitude for the sprinting icon.

Bolt's Racers Track Club teammate Yohan Blake said that Bolt leaves behind big shoes to fill.

"He leaves (behind) a size 19 to fit. It's hard to fit. I tried to squeeze my foot into it, and I'm somewhere close. My favourite moment with him is when we took the one-two at the Olympics (in 2012)."

Great Britain's Mo Farah, who is a good friend of Bolt's, said that he was delighted to be part of the historic moment.

"I just wanted to be here for Bolt's race for one last time," Farah said. "He is a great friend of mine, and he is a legend in my eyes. I just wanted to be here to be a part of it and take part in the 3,000 metres race," he said.




For Kenyan middle-distance star David Rudisha, who returned to the stadium where his father competed during the 1966 Commonwealth Games, playing a role in Bolt's final meet in front of the Jamaican crowd was very special.

"It is really special to be a part of this memorable occasion. Bolt is a great athlete and for him retiring, we are sad as well as we are happy because of his achievements," said Rudisha.

South Africa's 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk, who trained with Bolt at the Racers Track Club for a couple of weeks last year, said that Bolt has been a great servant of the sport. He said that he has learnt a great deal from Bolt over the years.

"He has single-handedly changed the game, and we have all learnt so much from him, and so he is definitely going to be missed when he leaves," said van Niekerk.

"I think he is definitely someone you can learn from. It's a real honour to be competing. I can say I was there on his last home turf race, and it is really a blessing for myself to see and witness it first-hand," he said.

American sprinter English Gardner said that she enjoyed the atmosphere of the meet because of the respect Jamaican fans show to all athletes.

She also shared a fond memory she has of Bolt.

"When I first came on the scene in 2013, I was only 19 or 20, and I saw him inside the warm-up area. He looked at me and said, 'You're English Gardner?' I said, 'Yeah,' and then he smiled and walked away, so I took it as maybe he thought I was gonna be a little bit bigger," she laughed. "Definitely a good guy, full of personality, fun, and I enjoy running with him here in Jamaica."