Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Bolt to di worl'! - Ja Observer
Fans squeal in excitement as they reach out to touch the BMW carrying Olympic champion Usain Bolt on Mountain View Avenue in east Kingston yesterday. Bolt, who broke the 100 and 200 m world records at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing last month, came home to a hero's welcome yesterday. Members of Government, including Prime Minister Bruce Golding and minister of sport Olivia 'Babsy' Grange met him on the tarmac at the Norman Manley International Airport and escorted him to the Jamaica Pegasus where he was the subject of press conference. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)
Double Olympic champion and World Record holder in the 100m and 200m Usain Bolt gives his now trademark pose after exiting the Virgin Atlantic aircraft on his arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday. At left is Sports Minister Olivia Grange. Bolt received a hero's welcome from excited Jamaicans along the route from the airport to the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. (Photos: Bryan Cummings and Collin Reid)Crowds brave rain to welcome home Olympic champion
BY KIMONE THOMPSON
Jamaica Observer senior reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
The heavy rains that pelted the island yesterday were not enough to dampen the spirit of hundreds of Jamaicans who lined the streets of Kingston to welcome home Olympic champion Usain Bolt who broke two world records and had a hand in a third at the Beijing Olympics last month.
The skies were black, signalling the fury to be unleashed, but fans were undaunted. For the entire stretch of road between the Norman Manley International Airport and the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, housewives, grandmothers, pregnant women, professionals, schoolchildren, men, boys and girls stood in the pouring rain, singing Bolt's praises.
Double Olympic champion and World Record holder in the 100m and 200m Usain Bolt gives his now trademark pose after exiting the Virgin Atlantic aircraft on his arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday. At left is Sports Minister Olivia Grange. Bolt received a hero's welcome from excited Jamaicans along the route from the airport to the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. (Photos: Bryan Cummings and Collin Reid)
Others crowded the corridors and sidewalks outside their offices, congregated on low roof tops or peered through the windows of high rise buildings.
They took time off from work, paused household chores, delayed taking the children home from school and put off their homework. They faced the slanting rain, waded in water which was at times ankle-deep, and many of them trekked all the way from the Palisadoes road to the Pegasus.
"I feel like ah dog wid ten tails," said Jenny Jamieson as she stood at the Harbour View round-a-bout yesterday.
"Mi ah tek mi lunch time now cause mi haffi deh yah so. Mi love Usain Bolt. Him mek Jamaica proud and di way mi proud ah him mi haffi come show mi love," she added, as she paid for a green, black and gold wrist band and a Jamaican flag.
Unlike Jamieson, who took time off work, Joyce Allen, an elderly woman from Yallahs, St Thomas, was home with nothing doing.
"Me hear it on the 12 o' clock news and mi just jump in mi car and come down here," she said. "He's a hero. I have heard so much about him and I just want to see him in person."
And as much as the occasion drew hundreds of fans, it also drew peddlers who made quick cash from the sale of flags, buttons, bracelets, wristbands and even shoes and school bags in the black, green and gold.
"Cho, look how di place black up man. Ah hope him come before the rain enuh," a woman in the growing crowd was overheard saying. She did not have her wish however, as within a matter of minutes, heavy drops sent fans scurrying for cover. Where they did not have rain coats, or where umbrellas where made useless by gusty winds, people used cardboard boxes and pieces of carton or plastic bags.
Then there were others who, apparently caught up in Beenie Man's Heart Attack and Mavado's On The Rock blaring from two vehicles parked nearby, just let the rain soak them.
When at 1:55 pm a van coming from the direction of the airport announced via loud speaker that Bolt's plane had landed, the crowd became ignited, screaming, dancing, shouting. Eager to get the first glimpse of the lankly sprinter, they wandered out into the road blocking traffic from the airport.
By the time the deep burgundy BMW with the word 'Digicel' emblazoned on the hood and back windshield appeared, the crowd was in such a frenzy that the convoy could barely make it through. Fans grabbed onto the sides and jumped onto the hood, trying to get Bolt's attention. Although his car was a convertible, he had to satisfy himself with just an open window since it was pouring.
"Usain, Usain, Usain" chanted a group of students from Donald Quarrie High School.
"To di worl'", others shouted. "Bolt to di worl'".
Buoyed by excitement, the more avid of the fans decided to make the trek to the Jamaica Pegasus where Bolt was to be the subject of a press conference. Some drove, some hitch-hiked, others walked. And all along the route - via Rockfort, Mountain View Avenue, Arthur Wint Drive, Tom Redcam Avenue and Oxford Road - more kept joining.
The Observer caught up with a young man in the vicinity of Excelsior High School on Mountain View Avenue who said he had been following the convoy from the time it left the airport. His white T-shirt, blue jeans and black sneakers were drenched but he didn't seem to mind.
"It more than worth it, baby. It more than worth it," he told this reporter.
Maurice Taylor, an employee of the Companies Office of Jamaica, agreed.
"I wouldn't care if [my bosses are upset that I am out here]. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This don't happen everyday," he said standing at the corner of Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard.
He worked through lunch, he said, so that he could leave early and see history unfold. At 4:30 pm it did.
"This is the second greatest day in history," he exclaimed. "The first was when he broke the 100m record... I woulda like fi bottle da day yah and tek ah sip ah it when mi down," he said, before racing to get "better shots" of Bolt.