The world salutes a legend at JN Racers Grand Prix today

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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The Honourable Dr Usain St Leo Bolt will get the royal treatment befitting a true king when he makes his final competitive appearance in Jamaica at the JN Racers Grand Prix today starting at 6:00 pm.

Bolt, who will be 31 years old on August 21, is regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time and will be retiring after the IAAF London World Championships set for August 4-13.

Jamaicans will get a last glimpse of the legend on local soil when he lines up for the 100m at 10:10 pm inside the National Stadium.

A constellation of world stars will be present to pay homage to Bolt at the meeting, dubbed “Salute to a Legend,” and will feature appearances of no less than three world record holders, four Olympic champions and six World champions.

There will be two 100m races with the first one at 8:05 pm including Jamaicans Yohan Blake, Kemar Bailey Cole, Chadi Hinds, Akani Simbine of South Africa, who has three of the four fastest times in the world this year, Emmanuel Callender of Trinidad and Tobago, Bruce Robinson of the USA, and Antoine Adams of St Kitts and Nevis.

Then Bolt will take on fellow Jamaicans Michael Frater, Nickel Ashmeade, Jevaughn Minzie, Terrel Cotton of the USA, Ramon Gittens of Barbados, Daniel Bailey of Antigua, and Jason Rogers of St Kitts and Nevis.

But before Bolt takes to the track, the Jamaica Constabulary Force Band will form a guard of honour. He will exit the vehicle to the Dennis Brown song Here I Come, and he will enter the stadium to the song I was Born A Winner by Freddie McGreggor.

Throughout the meet there will be prerecorded events of his memorable moments, vox pops, people saying thanks and fans showing their appreciation. Then he will get an emotional send-off to R Kelly's hit tune, I Believe I Can Fly.

The scene has been set for an emotional exit for Bolt and the public in a tight schedule planned by the organisers in just over four hours.

“Those who are given the opportunity to speak will be given two minutes and we are asking them to stay within the two minutes because the microphone will be mute at two minutes,” said Dennis Gordon, vice-president of the Racers Track Club.

The opening ceremony will be 15 minutes followed by the women's triple jump at 6:35 pm and women's 400m development race for athletes preparing for the National Championship and can't get into the International 400m event. At 7:00 pm the International events start with the men's shot put and the women's 100m hurdles.

Bolt, who announced himself to the world 15 years ago at this same venue when he struck gold in the 200m at the IAAF World Junior Championships, will end his competitive race in Jamaica today.

“It's going to be a great reception. I'm home and the amount of people that called me for tickets, I know the stadium is going to be full. It's gonna be high-energy, it's gonna be just one big party, one big fun, it's gonna be a bit emotional, but I'm definitely looking forward to it,” said Bolt.

“I don't know how to feel. It's my last time running in front of my home crowd. I don't know how the emotions are gonna be because I know they gonna be loud and the energy gonna be great. But at the end of the night, how I am going to feel, I have no idea,” said Bolt.

“I am just going out there with an open mind, do my best and put on a show for them because that's what they are there to look forward to. So we will see what happens. The fans in Jamaica know that when I show up, I always show up at my best and I always give my all to make sure they are happy because they are very hard to please, but I try my best,” he added.

“I live to make my country proud. When I was growing up my role models were Don Quarrie and Herb McKenley. I watched these guys dominate and make their country proud and I just wanted to be like them.

“I got a lot of love, a lot of push and a lot of banter from the country. But it was always love that helped me to work harder, be like the great Bob Marley himself, just to make my country proud and put my country on the map.

“I think I am a legend. I have worked hard and I have done everything I possibly can do to prove myself as one of the greatest athletes ever,” ended Bolt.

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