Man of the Year Bolt expecting big season on track
He's a man of many firsts and the 2016 Gleaner Honour Awards Man of the Year Usain Bolt again wrote his own chapter in history after becoming the first three-time recipient of the much-vaunted award on a day that saw other sporting icons being recognised.
Bolt, who also won his fourth category award for sports, shared the sporting limelight with double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson (sports) and road race magnate Alfred 'Franno' Francis' Running Events Limited (health and wellness).
Already sprinting in January and a record fourth Laureus Award in hand, yesterday's recognition was the latest highlight in what is already a great start to Bolt's farewell season.
Yesterday's nod follows Bolt's previous Man of the Year awards in 2008 and 2009, pushing him beyond two-time winners Edward Seaga and Gordon 'Butch' Stewart as the most successful recipient of this award. In 2012, Bolt was presented with a special Jamaica50 Global Jamaican Honour Award.
The big sprinter also won category awards for sports, his fourth following sports awards in 2008, 2009, and in 2002, after his 200m gold-medal run at the World Junior Championships.
"It's always a great feeling, I'm really happy. It's been a tough couple of years and I'm finally coming to the end of my career, so getting these awards is always a great feeling," Bolt told The Gleaner shortly after receiving his trophy from Managing Director Christopher Barnes.
Bolt, who reminisced about his early days appearing in The Gleaner's publications, was especially proud to become the first three-time Man of the Year recipient.
"I set high standards, and it's always good to get to the top and stay there by yourself," he laughed. "Really, it's a great feeling, and I will continue trying to do great things even outside of track and field - you never know, I might end up winning in something else."
"Just being on TV and coming in The Gleaner and your parents cutting the articles out and saving them was and is always a wonderful feeling. This is what you dream about. Those were your big dreams back then, so it's a good feeling (to again be awarded by The Gleaner)."
HIGH HOPES FOR FINAL SEASON
Meanwhile, Bolt says he is positive about his final season on the track and is boosted by his fitness after recently competing in the Nitro Athletics in Australia.
"The fact I could actually sprint is a good sign. I was never able to sprint or compete this early in the season for a long time, so for me, I am really happy about that and it's a good sign that I am on the right track," said Bolt, who has 22 international titles on his CV.
In a touching move, Bolt's parents Wellesley and Jennifer, were presented with a specially commissioned Alphanso Blake painting, which was brushed on cedar in honour and recognition of their role and support in the sprinter's development.
"What we need in Jamaica is to highlight more of the good things that are happening in Jamaica so we can inspire others," Barnes noted. "At his (Bolt) acceptance speech at the RJR Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards, he said, 'I am a little boy from Sherwood Content and if I can reach here, then there should be nothing that you can't accomplish'. That was the most powerful message, here is a normal person doing great things, and everyone in Jamaica can aspire towards that."