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Jamaica: “Lightning” Strikes Twice at Beijing Olympics

Usain Bolt celebrates after his record-breaking win in the 100m on August 16.
Photo by Kerry Gibbons. Used with permission

Global Voices OlympicsJamaica's Usain Bolt continued his phenomenal run at the Beijing Olympics with a record-breaking win in the men's 200m Wednesday. His 19.30 sec time shaved two-hundredths of a second off American Michael Johnson‘s record made in Atlanta in 1996. In so doing, Bolt became the first man to win both the 100m and 200m at the same Olympics since Carl Lewis‘s feat in 1984. Not to be outdone, the Jamaican women also made the Caribbean proud, with Melanie Walker making a new Olympic record in the women's 400m hurdles.

Among the first to comment on Bolt's win was Trinidadian blogger Sitting at the Coffee Wallah who summed it all up by saying “Jamaica has certainly made these Olympics his own and here in the Caribbean we are all celebrating again tonight, we have the gold and silver in the 200m as well.” She takes issue with all those who've criticised Bolt's exuberant displays of dominance, however, and especially retired Trinidadian Olympic medalist-turned NBC commentator, Ato Boldon, who deemed Bolt's celebrations “too cocky”:

For years we've had to endure the sight of Americans grandstanding, beating their chests, hurling shoes into the stands, even Ato's bare chest as he hauled his running kit down after every race. Honestly, you get used to sportsmen behaving like a**holes when they do something so you overlook it as the emotion of the moment. Bolt, at 21 is pretty self assured, not a bad thing to be if you're the fastest man in the world. And he just set another world record. Folks, if he wants to do his “lightening bolt”, dance, brush his head, so what.

Or, put another way by Trinidadian blogger Nicholas Laughlin in response to a New York Times article on Bolt's win:

To everybody who disapproves of Bolt's “showboating”: when we in the Caribbean want to show the world how strong we are, we don't mobilise armies. We sing (Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, the Mighty Sparrow, Rihanna), we write poems (Derek Walcott, St.-John Perse), we paint (Wifredo Lam), we run and swim and score runs and goals (Arthur Wint, Hasely Crawford, Merlene Ottey, Ato Boldon, Asafa Powell, George Bovell, Learie Constantine, Garry Sobers, the Three Ws, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke, the entire West Indies cricket team in the 1970s and 80s, the Jamaican football team in 1998, the Trinidad and Tobago football team in 2006, etc etc etc) — and we go like lightning. Our athletes have always punched way, way above their weight, considering the size of our populations and our national economies. And they do it in style.

The man could dance! So let him dance. Today, all of us here dancing with him.

Usain Bolt talks to the press after his record-breaking win in the 100m on August 16.
Photo by Kerry Gibbons. Used with permission

OwenSoft and Stunner's Afflictions‘s described the excitement in Jamaica, with people in the streets and offices crowding around television screens and waving the yellow, black and green flag of their country. YardFlex and Living in Barbados added to the growing catalogue of information on Bolt by naming the dancehall moves he put down after his historic win.

Raw Politics Jamaica Style uses the classic poem by Louise Bennett-CoverlyColonization in Reverse” as a starting point to discuss recent successes of Jamaica and the Caribbean in track and field and the phenomenon of the small axe felling the big tree. By shutting out the Americans, he says “the wily Jamaicans give new meaning to being ‘likkle but (wi) tallahwah!’

Raw Politics‘ post is a belated celebration of Bolt's 100 m win and the achievements of the women's team as well. But even in celebrating the Jamaican men and women, he spared a thought for Asafa Powell, the powerful sprinter who was expected to shine in Beijing too, but who instead lived up to his reputation of being unable to perform in the biggest theatres of sport. He calls Powell a “trailblazer” who paved the way for Bolt and others:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has aided the process by taking a decisive step in leveling the playing field in some way, it is now up to us to carry the baton all the way to victory. I am confident we will! Powell’s loss poignantly counterpoints Usain’s victory and underlines the twinned paradox of life in Jamrock.

The international media is perplexed by the rampant new sprint champions, but the fact that Jamaica and the Caribbean are on top of the world in athletics is for Bajan Global Report a sign of the times—a diet of ground provisions instead of steroids may well be the Jamaicans’ secret weapon.

  • http://soapboxland.com ellis reed

    It’s one thing if Usain Bolt’s exuberant celebrations were meant to rub it in the faces of other athletes, but he’s just out to have a good time. There’s no malice in the things he does. As long as he’s backing it up with amazing performances, I say dance on. It’s been entertaining.

  • Ric Hernandez

    Proud of your post and for points I wasn’t aware off. Great effort!

  • Krisantha

    From Beijing: We wish the Bolt had danced more!!!!! ….. Viva Caribbean!!!!

  • http://www.sungoddessroom.com sungoddess

    “…a diet of ground provisions instead of steroids may well be the Jamaicans’ secret weapon.”

    Or mannish water…

  • Bob

    Many Chinese commented that the swimming stadium is erected for Phelps, while the Bird Nest is built for Bolt!

    Wonderful performance!

  • bibi

    Lovely article Skye. We here in Trinidad are proud of Bolt’s performance…and Mr. Laughlin couldn’t have put it better…

  • kingalarm staff

    We here at KingAlarm Systems congratulate Bolt on his wonderful proformances. DANCE AWAY

  • kingalarm staff

    HIS WONDERFUL PERFORMANCES!!!!!!!

  • jACKIE lOPEZ

    I have never been more proud to be a Jamaican. “Lightning Bolt” just dance my brother. I do hope you have many more occasions to dance. Pray, dance, rest and then bruk up more world records whether they like it or not. Mi luv it. Hail “Lightning Bolt”.

    I almost forgot the women. My apology. Hail Jamaican women. “Big up”. Continue the good things.

  • http://shoptoearn.net/pmatthews Paul Matthews

    Joy, bliss, pride. Such feelings i experienced as i watched Usain run at these Olympic games. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Usain Bolt has made history for all Jamaicans at home and abroad. He has redefined athletics for years to come. At 19.30 in the 200 meters, he averaged 9.65 per 100. Absolutely amazing. And he will only get better. I love the fact that he is truly enjoying himself, he is after all having the time of his life. This is a great time not only for Jamaicans but for track fans all over the world. We may never see anyone better in our lifetime.

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