by Thomas U. Tuttle
Having just returned from one of my regular forays into the Caribbean, Jamaica in particular, I’m pleased to report that the fastest man in the world is doing just fine.
Yes, Usain “Lightning” Bolt is holding up well and, to prove it, he ran a final “home” 100 meters at Jamaica’s National Stadium in a casual 10.03 in front of 30,000 gold-clad Jamaicans – and me!
It is a long drive from T-Bird on the Cliffs, Negril, Westmoreland Parish to Kingston, Saint Andrew Parish – and to the glittering, extraordinary track palace near the center of town. As Yankee Stadium is the house that Babe Ruth built, so too is National Stadium Mr Bolt’s, having won his first major race – a 200 meter – just before his 16th birthday and indicating his recent 100 will be his last competitive race in Jamaica.
He does plan to run the World Championships in London this summer, and he stated once again that will be the final competitive 100 of his illustrious career.
My friend and occasional driver, Mr Everton “Biggs” Williams, knew we were watching history as the sizable crowd grew in excitement. When the climactic sprint event drew closer at “Salute to the Legend – Racers Grand Prix,” the frenzy grew – until the Big Man, as is his style, slyly and slowly emerged from the tunnel to the sounds of Ziggy Marley on the sound system. Bedlam, joyful exuberance, and a little dancing from Bolt – which finally yielded to the silence of a fandom that knew there was just a little more work to be done.
It was incredible how quiet the 30,000 became as the race came close to the gun sounding; you could have heard the proverbial pin drop from about 100 meters.
And just like Rio de Janeiro (yes, you will recall I ventured to Rio for the Olympics) he came out of the blocks cautiously, caught the pack at the 50 meter mark, and then blew by the field for another solid, going-away triumph. Running just over 10 seconds doesn’t make Sir Bolt very excited, but his countrymen and women were plenty enthralled nonetheless.
As he executed his signature “To The World” pose during his final victory lap at the National Stadium, he was once again the ultimate man of the moment – just as he has been since 2008, a superb and unequaled Champion and true hero of the Jamaican people.
Olympic and World Champ at 100 AND 200 meters in 2008, same thing in 2012, ditto for Rio in 2016 – which I was so privileged to witness and whose images will never leave my mind. The Big Man won the 100 and 200 meters in THREE consecutive Olympic Games.
It’s hard to even wrap your head around such an accomplishment!
And Biggs and I will never forget our warm evening in Kingston, when an entire city put away its numerous challenges and problems to cheer for the greatest track athlete in history – and one heck of a person.
Courteous during a brief meeting with “Biggs” Williams and myself, Bolt was raised humble outside Trelawny in the north of the island – -and reflects, on an international platform, his outstanding parenting. A gentleman through and through, he is in fact a wonderful symbol of hope for Jamaica.
And the fastest man EVER, pure and simple – World Record Holder in both sprint events (forget the WR relays) and, arguably, the Greatest Athlete in the History of the World.
“To the Worl, Mon, To the Worl!”