Wednesday, 21 March 2012
EYE ON LONDON 2012: Jamaicans react to Boltmania in the UK
As the hot summer months draw closer, attention is increasingly turning to London, where the Games of the XXX Olympiad are expected to unfold in spectacular fashion from July 27 to August 12. As such, London is the summer destination of choice. For Britons at home, the excitement is nearing fever pitch with one name at the centre of it all: Usain Bolt – the man whose appealing image and prospective exploits on the London track continue to dominate the British media. For Jamaicans making life in the UK, they simply cannot get enough. TALLAWAH gets a rundown (from two Jamaicans on the scene) of the Boltsanity! that’s taken over the British empire:
“With the forthcoming celebrations planned for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence, along with the expected dominance of Usain Bolt and the rest of the Jamaican team in the athletics events in the forthcoming Olympics, it’s fair to say that the countdown to the Olympics has begun. Crowds are expected at The Jamaica Village in Finsbury Park, London as well as at Jamaican street parties and venues across the length and breadth of the UK, proving it is possible to celebrate the Olympics without having a ticket to the Games.
Indeed, such is the hype surrounding the fastest living man in the world that it is impossible to live in the UK and not be aware of the tremendous contribution this man has made to breaking barriers previously unbroken in the world of sports and stamping himself firmly as a living legend in the process. Bolt is everywhere: from billboards across London to TV adverts beaming his smiling face into the living room of millions of sports fans in Europe to photos of him dominating front-page headlines of newspapers around the world showcasing his bemused look when Prince Harry sprinted past him to win at Usain’s home training ground in Jamaica recently.
Usain Bolt’s [mix of] talent, humility, professionalism and charisma is revered , respected and admired around the world. Never have I been more proud to be a Jamaican living in the UK as I do now, and I wait with bated breath to see further boundaries tested as Usain unleashes his power and grinding ambition to break even more world records in the months to come.” – A 40-something, who’s been a UK resident for over 10 years.
“So I came to London a few months back to study and was immediately thrown into a multi-culturally diverse environment. Every first conversation began with “I am Melissa, and I am from Jamaica.” The usual responses: “Bolt Country,” and “That’s where the fastest man in the world is from.” All this coming from people who are from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India and other countries. Of course I have never met Bolt, but I basked in the obvious awe inspired by the mere connection that we share: Jamaica. With the advent of the Virgin Broadband and Visa adverts, I feel as if I am living in ‘Bolt’s country’ rather than the UK. His image is plastered on the walls of the underground stations. People on the Tube and elsewhere can be seen rifling through their newspapers, and of course, there is a picture of Bolt plastered on the front or back pages.
Log onto a UK website and at some point the Bolt adverts pop up, and of course with his suave Jamaican dancing moves, one can’t help but click on his image to see what he will do next! And of course you will see ‘Lightning Bolt’ streaking across your page. I have yet to see any similar attention paid to any other participant in the upcoming Olympics. As such, it is safe to say that the grand stage is being set to see if Bolt can beat himself by lowering his records. With his image mounted on screens in Piccadilly Square and all over London, one can’t help but conclude that this Olympics is a coronation for an undoubtedly supertalented athletic legend who has transcended his Jamaican roots and is now seen as a citizen of the world. Let us pray for his continued good health. Olympics 2012 is his ‘kingdom’ to rule.” – Melissa, 30-something.