Barbara Ellington, Lifestyle Editor
TRIPLE OLYMPIC gold-medal winner Usain Bolt loves children with a passion and will pick them up and play with them on the spur of the moment, according to his mother, Jennifer Bolt. She says this love spills over into his happy personality.
"He was a happy child, always very playful. He plays to keep himself focused and calm. In China, he even told Britain's Germaine Mason to be more relaxed and happy before competition," Mrs Bolt said, in reference to criticism in some quarters of her son's post-win antics.
Mrs Bolt gave an exclusive interview to The Sunday Gleaner yesterday over breakfast at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston. She spent the night there, courtesy of Digicel, after Tropical Storm Gustav forced the Virgin Atlantic flight from London to divert to St Lucia Thursday night. She was returning home after witnessing her son's historic achievements in Beijing, China.
Reflected on Wellesley
Over breakfast, Mrs Bolt reflected on her husband, the early years, and, of course, Usain. Were it not for the senior Bolt's persistence, Usain would probably not be here.
Mrs Bolt did not care much for Wellesley Bolt when they first met in 1984. She was absorbed in the young people's club at her church (Seventh-day Adventist); he was Baptist and she lived with a very strict mother. So Wellesley had to pursue her.
His persistence paid off and they got together, had Usain in 1986 and got married when their little 'Lightning Bolt' was 12 years old.
Usain was not a problem child. His only weakness was that he loved to play a lot, his mother said, so much so that he has been into hand-held games since he was a child, and has run the gamut from Nintendo to Play Station and all the latest inventions. "He spends a lot of money on games," she disclosed.
Has Usain ever told her what he would give her if he struck it big, The Sunday Gleaner asked? He sure has. In his own words, he has often told her, "Mommy, I am going to let you live big."
Challenge to pronounce name
Just as some people find it hard to understand Bolt's personality, even more seem to find his name challenging to pronounce. (It's YOUsain). Mrs Bolt said she got the name from her 10-year-old nephew-in-law.
She was pregnant with Usain when the youngster told her to call the baby Usain if she had a boy. "He even spelt the name for me, and when I asked where it came from, he said a classmate of his had it. The middle name, St Leo, was given to Usain by my sister."
Accompanying Mrs Bolt home was her son's girlfriend, Mizicann Evans, who Usain met at a track meet when she was 13. She now wears his promise ring and the families get along.
Mrs Bolt takes her son's fame in stride, expressing concern for his well-being (like now that he's having a cold). "The change of climate from China to Switzerland affected him, and he was not happy that I did not call him on Thursday night," she said.