Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | Farewell Usain Bolt!

Published:Tuesday | August 23, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Usain Bolt does his 'To the World' pose after winning the men's 100m final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The shades have been drawn on Rio 2016 and this blessed nation is left with memories, some sweet, others not so.

Clearly, the world has seen the last Olympic act of the grandmaster of track and field, Usain Bolt.

Give him any title imaginable, but let it speak to the way he performed on a grandiose scale for the multitude of fans, encompassing both genders, who warmed to and reached fever-pitch excitement and ecstasy levels in response to his entertaining antics, victory after victory.

From the moment he took off his running shoes in the Beijing Bird's Nest after the 2008 Olympics 100m world record triumph, he has been imposing and impressive, instantly initiating the worldwide acclaim that rose to a pinnacle in the Olympic Stadium in Rio.

With an admirable display of poise and panache, garnished by a substantial helping of flamboyance and flair, the sport's sensational superstar has captured the hearts and minds of those who crammed into the world's stadia to see him live, as well as the wider throng watching on television or other available video-imaging devices.

The Brazilians, already nurtured on and nourished by their hero, race car driver - the late Ayrton Senna - and the institution in PelÈ, had found in this phenomenal athlete another idol at whose feet to kneel.

His final tally of gold medals over the three Games where he shone, beacon-style, was a stunning nine. They were comprised of the triple-triple of sprint titles, never before accomplished.

At the end of the action, with the closing ceremony to come, most appropriately on the big man's birthday, the people from Brazil, with their tumultuous cheers, spoke for the entire Olympic movement, in saying, "Thank you, Usain".

Foster's Fairplay, trapped in the afterglow of Jamaica's nine medals, would take pleasure in keeping the tributes and show of appreciation at the level stimulated by the Bolt magnificence. No such luck, as the journey through one's existence will always toss up the excellent and that of lesser brilliance.

However, they must all be recognised, respected and accorded the relevance that is deserving. Not all will make the Bolt cut or trod the paths that he has so attractively traversed.

In that regard, one must, in the first instance, revisit the outstanding showing of the country's new queen of the sprints, Elaine Thompson, the girl out of the Manchester High School programme, astutely handled by senior coach Jerry Holness.

She has stunned a phalanx of critics by reversing the 2015 Beijing World Championship triumph by the reigning 200m World champion, the Dutch former multi-eventer, Dafne Schippers.

 

NEW CHAMPION

 

It was a scintillating performance - adding to her more likely 100m gold - Jamaica's first in Rio.

It spoke eloquently to the inestimable value of guru coach of a multiplicity of skill sets, Stephen Francis, seen by many with expertise as the world's best. More will be told of the Wolmerian, turned ace accountant, whose craft, cunning and competence is on course with his calculus.

There should be no talk of the seemingly shy miss from the mid-island district of Banana Ground replacing the outstanding Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in her queenly status, but that is for another place and another time.

For now, let the new champion be commended and celebrated for her Olympic double sprint gold - the first in 28 years for a woman.

Year 2016 has been literally an up-and-down season for another Manchester High product, coached there by former high-school sprint standout Carlos Samuels.

From there, Omar McLeod moved, or, better put, was attracted to Kingston College where Raymond 'KC' Graham, not unknown in the country's hurdling culture, saw to his conditioning.

The World indoor 60mh champion from Portland, Oregon, took on and bested the world in the opening Diamond League exercises, winning in Doha, Shanghai and the Pre Classic in Eugene. Then followed falls in Monaco and the Hengelo in Belgium.

In true Fortis style, he did not yield, but rose again for the Olympic gold. The mettle of the 22-year-old, together with timely coaching acumen, won out for his country.

If ever a top-of-the-podium finish can be predicted, the traditional 4x100m relay for men is it. The expected quartet of Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade and the farewell man, Bolt - in his Olympics finale - got the equally expected result.

Goodbye to Rio, and the same to Usain.

For feedback, email lauriefoster2012@gmail.com.