Phenomenal Bolt - 'We have to understand who Bolt is'
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
The prowess of Jamaica's sprint sensation, Usain Bolt, on the track is well documented, after he became the first man to repeat victories in the 100m and 200m at the Olympics.
He also holds the world record in both events with his times of 9.58 seconds in the 100m and 19.19 seconds in the 200m, which were set at the 2009 World Championships, and also formed part of Jamaica's world-record breaking 4x100m relay team (36.84 seconds) achieved at this year's Olympics.
Jamaica's chef de mission to the 2012 London Games, Don Anderson, believes the country's youngest ambassador-at-large is not fully recognisied as the global superstar he is off the field here in Jamaica.
"We have a mega superstar in our presence and we kind of take it for granted," Anderson said yesterday while speaking at the weekly Kiwanis Club of Kingston luncheon meeting held at The Wyndham Kingston hotel. "We have to understand who Usain Bolt is. We had a team of 50 athletes and I am always hesitant to single out any single athlete, but we have to recognise a superstar for a superstar," he added.
The 26-year-old, 6'5" athlete was a huge hit in London with both spectators and fellow athletes alike, as wherever he went he attracted a huge following to the point where six of Jamaica's biggest athletes had to be given the task of shielding him.
"The first day he walked into the dining room at the village hardly anybody recognised him at first, as he had the six biggest guys around him, but he was eventually spotted and the word got around that Usain Bolt was there, and people were leaving everywhere and just converging where he was," Anderson recollected. "That was the only day he was able to go to the dining room, because after that it was just a madhouse, so somebody had to go get his food and bring it back for him," he added.
Bolt was also given the honour of being Jamaica's flag-bearer for the opening ceremony and gladly accepted, despite members of his team having initially expressed concerns about him walking for a mile through the streets, fearing he might have been mobbed.
"In all of my life I have never experienced something like what took place along the walk between the village and the stadium, because lining that route were about 10,000 persons on either side," Anderson shared. "From the village to the stadium, every two minutes we walked we had to stop, because the lines were congested and every time the lines became congested Usain said to his bodyguards 'give mi a little break man', and he came out of the ranks and ran down the street touching people hands, embracing people and signing autographs."
He added: "It was absolutely magical and the crowd just grew more and more deafening in terms of the noise; security people were coming for photographs and other athletes from all the way up front were coming back. One of the times we couldn't even find Usain; he was on top of a ladder doing his traditional pose."
Anderson and the other members of his team were concerned that the National Olympics Committee (NOC) would have had issues with Bolts' activities during the parade, but it turned out to be quite the contrary.
"We thought the NOC people would be upset, but they called us to say this guy is really just a big kid; we love it."