LONDON, England — Operating in a multi-lingual environment can often cause misunderstandings as persons try to communicate with each other.
Given Jamaica's high profile in track and field here at the Games of the XXX Olympiad, members of the Jamaican media have been inundated with interview requests and questions from journalists from all over the globe trying to get information on the Jamaican sprinters.
Nowhere was the language divide more obvious than at the JOA/Puma press conference held in East London on Thursday.
An innocent mistake by a female journalist from Chile sent waves of laughter through the press conference that was attended by at last 300 journalists when she commented on the life style of double World Record holder Usain Bolt and commented that since he "was gay" how does he relax off the track.
Here was a pause as Bolt, looked to team mate Asafa Powell who was on the stage with him as if he was not sure what he heard.
Powell was of no help however as by the he was doubled over in laughter, barely able to contain himself.
Smoothly, Colin Jackson, the former Great Britain athlete of Jamaican parentage stepped in to clarify. "The word is happy Usain, she meant happy."
Translated the question was "given your happy go lucky life style how do you behave off the track?"
Minutes later another question caused the athletes to seek help again from Jackson. "Who were their partners in the Athletes Village?"
Powell explained he has roomed with fellow MVP sprinter Michael Frater for the past 10 years while Bolt shared that he was rooming with decathlete Maurice Smith, the same person he roomed with four years ago in Beijing, China.
A relaxed looking Asafa also had the press conference in stitches when after fielding questions from persons from at least eight or nine difference accents, he was asked a question by the Gleaner's Andre Lowe.
Powell paused for a while, then asked the journalist to repeat the question, then dead panned, "I just did not understand the accent."