Sport

Bolt larger than life, says Fennell

Olympic star fêted at Tracks and Records

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012    

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HE is larger than life. He has a broad shoulder to carry Jamaica's burden. He is a true son of the soil and the most celebrated athlete in history. Those were some of the praises showered on Usain Bolt at a welcoming reception at Tracks and Records Sports Bar yesterday.

Bolt, the triple Olympic gold medallist who returned home on Saturday, sat calmly at the head table and listened attentively to all the accolades being bestowed upon him.

Bolt, in his special address, thanked everyone for their support, but couldn't resist taking a swipe at those who doubted his ability to

defend his titles at the

London Olympics.

"I just have one thing to say. Never doubt a champion," said Bolt to tumultuous applause from the small gathering.

"I want to thank my real, true fans. There were a lot of doubters and a lot of people were happy that I lost (National Trials) and were saying a lot of things. But my true fans, my coach, my team gave me that support and were 100 per cent behind me," Bolt added.

"I want everybody to continue supporting Usain Bolt, Doctor, the Honourable," he said before being interrupted by the loud cheers that followed. He laughed while announcing his titles.

Bolt, 26, who won the 100m in 9.63 and the 200m in 19.32 in London, was achieving an unprecedented double-double as no man had ever retained both titles at the Olympics. In so doing, he definitely achieved the legendary status he craved so much.

"I want to give thanks to Glen Mills. He is the greatest person; he has been a father figure, my mentor, he's been a coach and for me he is the person that makes me laugh. He's truly a great person overall. He is the greatest coach ever," said

Bolt unequivocally.

The legend also then thanked his best friend Nugent Walker, his parents and his brother. "After I won the 100m my dad came and said, 'Alright, that's for your mother, now win the 200m for me,'."

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Mike Fennell went even further by saying Bolt is 'larger than life' but that people close to him might not recognise it.

"Sometimes we don't know how big he is worldwide and the international measure of his recognition. We have somebody in Usain Bolt who is larger than life all around the world," said Fennell.

The Jamaican icon who has drawn comparison to the great Reggae singer Bob Marley, was also hailed by government official Natalie Neita-Headley from the Office of the Prime Minister who has responsibility for Sports, as well as Opposition Leader Andrew Holness.

Other speakers included His Excellency Howard Drake, the British High Commissioner to Jamaica; Tahnida Nunes of sponsor Digicel and Carlo Redwood of Pepsi Cola, through its brand Gatorade.

Holness, famous for his storytelling skills, said he looked at Bolt's shoulder compared to his and he knows Bolt would do a better

job at carrying Jamaica on

his shoulders.

"Keep on doing what you're doing and I'm certain that you're far more capable of carrying the burden of representing Jamaica. You have done a wonderful job and I want to say on behalf

of the people, keep it up,"

said Holness.

Neita-Headley said Bolt's name is synonymous with speed and he is a true

son of Jamaica.

"Without any scientific data, I can safely say that Usain Bolt has become the most celebrated athlete in track and field in history," she pointed out.

Tahnida Nunes, Digicel's sponsorship manager, thanked Bolt for making the nation proud and welcomed home the great man.

"You can't imagine how patriotic people feel and it's thanks to Usain and the Jamaican team," said Nunes, adding that Digicel will be doing something special in Bolt's community of Sherwood Content in Trelawny, details of which will be announced at a later date.

Redwood of Pepsi Cola Jamaica said Gatorade and Bolt have been a winning combination over the years.

"We watch you from all parts of Jamaica as you took on the world, along with the rest of athletes, coaches and administrators to make Jamaica proud," said Redwood.

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