BOLT - Man of the year - Lightning strikes twice

Published: Thursday | November 19, 2009

Mark Beckford, Staff Reporter

Lightning seems to strike twice in many ways for Usain Bolt. Breaking the 100m world record at a major championship, the Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2008, and doing the same a year later in 2009 at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Check.

Decimating the 200m world record in Beijing in 2008 and repeating the feat in 2009 in Berlin. Check again.

Now, he has done the same by copping the Gleaner's 2009 Man of the Year Award for the second year in a row.

The accolade comes at the end of a successful season for Bolt, which saw his superstar status cemented around the world. Thus, it came as no surprise to those gathered at the Mona Visitors' Lodge on the campus of the University of the West Indies in St Andrew yesterday for the annual Gleaner Honour Awards luncheon.

Such was the grandeur of his achievements this year that it would be impossible to look beyond Bolt for a winner of the prestigious award from the 175-year-old institution.

"It is always an honour," a smartly dressed Bolt told those gathered for the occasion.

"I have been acknowledged by a lot of people overseas, but it is also a good thing to be acknowledged by a big company like The Gleaner. It shows that your work is actually being acknowledged by your fellow Jamaicans."

The new caretaker of a cheetah cub was selected for the Man of the Year Award because of his outstanding achievements over the last year.

These included winning his first World Championships in Athletics gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

On top of winning other races in superlative times, he won over the hearts of many across the world, appearing on syndicated television shows such as Jimmy Fallon live, in the United States, racing with children in the streets of Thessaloniki, Greece, and visiting Kenya to adopt one of its endangered species, a cheetah.

Though now a son of the world, the charismatic speedster offered words of encouragement to his country, which is ailing from high crime, unemployment and the aftershock of a global recession.

He says Jamaicans should take his rags-to-riches story as an example of what hard work and a 'never-say-die' attitude can achieve.

"I always tell people about my experience when I started track and field. I started out in high school doing well, then went to the senior part and starting doing badly. I was down pretty much, it was hard for me and I was stressing out. But people, I would say just keep on going and trying and just lean on your family and friends. That is the key thing, lean on people, let them help you," he said.

What is Bolt's next move, other than his 9.58 super party and training? Christmas time with his family?

"To me, Christmas is a laid-back time where I can chill, kick back and have some good vibes," he added.

Yesterday's luncheon, chaired by Karin Cooper, The Gleaner's business development and marketing manager, marked the end of a series of lunch meetings with category recipients of this year's Gleaner Honour Award scheme.


Voluntary Service

Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell and the Dare to Care Foundation

Science and Technology

Professor Helen Asemota


Professor Gordon Shirley


Jamaica Broilers Group

Public Service

Airports Authority of Jamaica


Digicel Rising Stars

Arts and Culture

Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

Sports Special Award

Brigitte Foster-Hylton


Shari-Jo Miller and

Dr Claudine DeSouza

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