“To the world,” was the first thing Usain “Lightening” Bolt said as he returned to Jamaica yesterday to a welcome fit for the hero he has become. Bringing home his world record gold medals earned at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, Bolt triggered an eruption of love, pride and immense joy amongst Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Throngs of people waited for him to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday afternoon.
As the man who made history in Beijing by winning the 100 and 200 meters in world record time descended from the aircraft, he struck the famous ‘lightening pose’. From the slight lean of the body, finger in the air to one side and the other arm outstretched Bolt paused for a moment before going into a few moves of the ‘Usain Bolt’ dance; completely thrilling the enormous crowd.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller and Sports Minister Olivia Grange met Bolt as he stepped off the Virgin Atlantic flight yesterday afternoon. A celebration ceremony was held that evening at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, where Bolt got a chance to meet with international press.
Returning ahead of his team mates, the 22 year-old’s welcome acted also as the launching of many activities being arranged by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports. Prime Minister Golding announced a celebration is slated for October 3rd when all the other Jamaica Olympic team members will return home. It is expected to an elaborate affair with floats, a rally and so on.
The airport yesterday was overly packed with well-wishers and the Prime Minister said he hadn’t seen a motorcade of this type since Nelson Mandela landed in Jamaica.
There were some requests from Bolt’s entourage for increased security at one point, as people were banging on his car. The Prime Minister said Bolt was not in need of security and the gestures were all acts of love. “Jamaica is proud of you as you have proven that we are the best in the world,” the Prime Minster stated. He further said that Usain Bolt was at this moment in greater demand that Barack Obama.
Urging all the athletes to make every effort to go back to their respective regions of Jamaica, the Prime Minister said they should spend time with community members, especially the children in schools.
“Thanks to everyone for your support; I can’t begin to tell you how I feel,” Bolt told reporters and others. “ I am happy to come home and was really looking forward to it.” Bolt vowed to keep Jamaica on top saying he is looking forward to dealing with the challenges involved.
On questions of his intention to donate to any Jamaican charities, Bolt said that his management is working with him to sort all that out and they have not yet made any final plans. His influence on the murderers in the ‘garrisons’ – where crime rates decreased during the Olympics, was questioned and Bolt said - they know it is all about unity now. “I hope they keep the unity and what I want is for everyone to keep everything cool…hold down the war and mek we just deal wid the unity right now.”
Jamaica’s oldest Olympian, Cynthia Thompson, who ran in the 1948 games was on hand along with two other former Olympians – to greet Bolt.
Stewarts added a brand new BMW to the list of well-deserved gifts being showered on the Bolt.