Monday, 5 September 2011

FOLLOW THE LEADER: Usain Bolt powers compatriots to euphoric results at World Champs

FANTASTIC FOUR: Carter, Frater, Blake and Bolt after their brilliant 4 X 100M.

Jamaica’s athletes have bestowed us with fresh cause for jubilation after such a triumphant showing at the just-concluded World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. To say the least, Jamaicans everywhere have been left “beaming with pride,” to echo the sentiments of PM Bruce Golding. And with all the negative elements the country is so often associated with, it’s in moments like these that we must pause and savour the blessings – and cherish our innate greatness.

Capped by an electrifying, word-record performance in the Men’s 4 X 100M relay final Sunday morning to bring the curtains down on Daegu, it was proven yet again that our country, though a mere speck on the map, is a powerhouse to be reckoned with on the global stage. Jamaica bagged 9 medals (4 gold, 4 silver and a bronze) to finish fourth on the overall tally, and in the face of all manner of obstacles: Bad food! Asafa injured! No yam!

The bigger boys on the map know they have to show mad respect.

As could have been predicted, there was hardly a more fitting way to close the Daegu festivities than with our own phenomenal Usain Bolt, the reigning poster boy of world athletics, giving a brilliant sprint in the relay. And his powerful anchor leg (following terrific runs by Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake) was simply that. Incredible.

Bolt’s tireless legions of detractors had a field week after his false-start disqualification in the Men’s 100M Final last Sunday, but he gave them a perfect ‘Shut up!’ with golds in the 200M and the sprint relay, reinforcing his power and that he hasn’t lost the golden touch. For an athlete bearing the weight of a sport on his slightly muscular shoulders (plus his own high expectations), Bolt’s impressive flexibility and cool under pressure have to be admired. But the 25-year-old star proves, too, that he is only human (though many beg to differ), doesn’t take himself too seriously and delivers the impossible with style and a playful spirit.

On another note, I think we all share Asafa Powell’s disappointment in coming home medal-less on account of his niggling injury. I remain upbeat though that he’ll bounce back in time for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics. As for the bigger picture, if we’re lucky, our athletes’ performances in London will be awash in sensation anew. (We’re anticipating big things from VCB, Blake, Bolt and the rest of the camp). And what makes the coming attraction all the more special is that it will coincide with the year-long observance of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation. Need I say more?

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