Bolt urges youth to use his success as motivation
Having copped a record-equaling seventh RJR National Sportsman of the Year award at a glitzy ceremeony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday night, Usain Bolt made an impassioned plea to youngsters to use him as motivation for success.
Bolt, who will be retiring from the sport after the 2017 season, became an immortal when he won three gold medals at three consecutive Olympic Games, capturing the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
“I just want to thank all the fans and everybody that supported me through the rough times. I really wanted to thank you. It was really rough, but you guys came through for me.
“I want to leave with one thing… a message for the youths. I am from Trelawny and I have never thought that I would be at this stage of my life as one of the greatest sprinters ever, one of the greatest athletes ever,” said Bolt, to loud applause.
“With that I want to say hard works pays off, so if you want to be great just work towards what you want. Not only a track star, but you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, never give up, because I have gone through a lot in my career and I have never given up once. I have always pushed on and just look where I am at,” he added.
“So just use me as motivation. Use me as an example if you want to be the best that you can be. I wish you all the best. Thank you and good night,” said Bolt.
The dapperly dressed Bolt, who first won the award in 2008, joins legendary boxer Michael McCallum with further wins in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 as the most successful male athlete in the history of the 56-year-old awards.
“For me, it was a up and down season as always, as everybody who follows my career sees that it was a rough year. But with God’s strength and all the support I got from my team, Jamaica, and fans around the world, I pulled through.
“It was a big season, very stressful season, but I got through. The whole dream was to get this triple-triple and it feels really good that I really accomplished this because this is what I worked towards all my career,” said Bolt.
Olympic 110m hurdle gold medallist Omar McLeod was the runner-up to Bolt, ahead of cricketer Marlon Samuels.
Elaine Thompson, who became the first woman in 28 years to win the 100m, and 200m sprint double at the Olympic Games, won her first National Sportswoman of the Year award.
“It’s indeed an honour standing here tonight accepting this RJR Sportswoman of the Year award. Last year was amazing; it was a blast to capture the 100m and the 200m at my first major championship, which was the Olympic in Rio, Brazil,” said Thompson.
“To be the first woman over the last 28 years — and I am actually 24 right now — it’s overwhelming. Many persons have journeyed with me to this significant point in my life and I would like to say thanks,” said Thompson.
Swimming sensation and last year’s winner, Alia Atkinson was the runner-up in the category that included cricketer Stafanie Taylor and athletes Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson.
Meanwhile, Calabar High’s Christopher Taylor was voted the People’s Choice Performance of the Year for his anchor leg run in winning the 4x400m at the local athletic championship, strangely ahead of Olympic 200m gold medallist Thompson and Atkinson, who had broken the 50m short course breaststroke world record at the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup Tour. It shows the power of voting.
Many-time champion racehorse trainer, Wayne daCosta was given the Chairman’s Award, while MVP Coach Stephen Francis received the Sagicor Iconic Award. The Victoria Mutual YOUTH Award went to triathlete Lisa Sharpe of St Andrew High School.
The Honourable Mike Fennell was given the Global Lifetime Achievement Award.