THE understatement of the century would have to be this: "I wouldn't say I'm under pressure," said Usain Bolt from his training camp in London. He continued with: "I'm just focused on winning. I don't think it'll be the end of the world (if I don't win), but I'm not going to think about losing at any point in time. I know what it takes to be a champion. All I can do is focus and get it done."
Don't you just love this guy? He is the epitome of cool. The fact of the matter is that he is under extraordinary pressure. All eyes are upon Dr Usain Bolt. Not just our eyes here in Jamaica and the Jamaican eyes in the diaspora, but everybody in the world knows the stakes are high for the fastest man in the world to repeat and surpass his legendary performance in the 100-metre race at London 2012, the Games of the XXX Olympiad. We all want him to run like the wind.
That incredible Usain Bolt machinery that is everyone and everything that has brought us all to this incredible moment; from his parents Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, right down to the pedestrian fence on South Odeon Avenue that his BMW crashed into just a few weeks ago -- they all colluded and collided to usher onto the world stage, again, one magnificent Jamaican. One magnificent Jamaican in a sea of many. Not for a second can we ignore all of our other athletes. We wish them all well and know that they will do exceedingly well, but their eyes, too, will be on Bolt.
To this observer, sports is pure and unadulterated by the divisiveness of politics, and the fear and intolerance, pettiness and sloth that hold us back as a country. Sports is the one arena that we all can rally around and openly support and proclaim love and respect for its players in a way that other aspects of our wonderful culture can't. Subject to taste, our music, art, food and charm will elicit both fear and favour, but sports is all about striving for victory. And tell me, who doesn't love a winner?
We're fortunate that as a nation celebrating its 50th year of Independence we can use this moment in history, coupled with our participation in the Olympics, to remind ourselves and the world that Jamaica is the greatest nation on earth. And all of the lessons, the euphoria, the goodwill and the blood, sweat and tears from this we should use to propel us forward to even greater heights.
So let's take a page from Mr Cool's book. Bolt has also recently said: "I will do anything for Jamaica." If after giving so much already he is prepared to give even more, then who among us would dare not to step up to the plate and also make that promise? Jamaica will be a better place for it, and we will continue to set the world on fire.
As I see it, the only thing left now, on all fronts, at home and in London, is prayer. So here we go.
Father, Mother, Blessed Jah;
we give thanks for each and every blessing you bestow upon us,
for every warm day of sunshine, and every cool afternoon shower;
for our beautiful and talented children, and our indefatigable collective spirit;
for our powerful landscapes and gentle seascapes;
for ensuring that we never go hungry;
thanks for the mango season which filled everyone to the point of 'running belly';
thanks for the guinep season now upon us which will properly bind us;
today, may there be peace within;
may we trust that we are exactly where we are meant to be and be content with ourselves just the way we are;
may we not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in ourselves and others;
may we use the gifts that we have received and pass on the love that has been given to us;
and just one more thing, God, please let Bolt shine;
let him win.