Hail, Asafa - Sub-10 King gets statue

Hail, Asafa - Sub-10 King gets statue

'I am a statue man now' - Powell honoured and grateful for gesture from Government

By Howard Walker
Observer senior reporter

Monday, February 10, 2020

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday unveiled the statue of Asafa Powell in the presence of adoring well-wishers at Statue Park, National Stadium at Independence Park.

Just as he had done on the track, the “Sub-10 King” pulled hundreds of people from all walks of life to the ceremony at the entrance of the Grandstand.

Dapperly decked in a grey suit with black shirt and tie, Powell thanked his parents for not stopping at number five with him being the sixth child, then heaped praise on everyone who played a part in his development.

Powell also divulged the difficult times he went through with the loss of two brothers when he was just making his breakthrough in athletics.

“All of Jamaica, I just want to give you guys a big thank you for really keeping me through all these years. It's been a very long time and I am still going, and it's just the grace of God that keeps me going,” said Powell.

“I am honoured and very grateful for this statue. Minister of Sport Olivia Grange you have gone above and beyond for us and I always tell the athletes you are my favourite. You have always gone through the roof for us. I am a statue man now,” he added, with a laugh.

“Mr Basil Watson you got everything right, right down to the big toe. I went there and he made sure everything was perfect, and I really want to thank you for the effort that you put in to this statue,” said Powell.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness, an alumnus of St Catherine High, reminded guests that the parish is the same as Powell's alma mater Charlemont High School and both he and Asafa are now living in Beverly Hills in St Andrew, where Powell zips past in his fast cars.

He then thanked Powell for putting Jamaica on the map, noting that it was priceless as the government could not afford to pay for that advertisement.

“We can't pay for that advertising. Thank you, Asafa. Today we celebrate an extraordinary Jamaican, one who over the years has been able to lift our spirits, strengthen our resolve and add lustre to Brand Jamaica globally,” Holness said.

“Asafa has been a trailblazer and avid sportsman, determined to write his name in the historical records of global athletics. Today we elevate him into the pantheon of our greatest athletes,” added the prime minister.

“Today, on the behalf of a grateful nation, I, Andrew Michael Holness, prime minister of Jamaica, consider it a singular honour to unveil for the nation's appreciation and acclamation a statue in honour of Asafa Powell, Olympian for prosperity and as a testament of the love of the Jamaican people,” declared Holness.

He continued: “May all who pass by and look up to the monument be inspired by Asafa's achievement and dare to perform as well if not better.”

Powell joins an amalgamation statue of Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden and Les Laing, as well as others of McKenley, Don Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Powell's statue — depicting him leaving the starting blocks — is placed to the left of Fraser-Pryce and behind that of Bolt's.

It is the seventh athletics statue at Statue Park and eighth overall at Independence Park. The eighth statue is one built for netballers when the National Indoor Sports Centre was constructed.

Powell, who was born in Ewarton, St Catherine, is widely regarded as the Jamaican who started the modern era of sprint dominance when he broke the 100m world record twice in 2005 and 2007 with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds.

He has a personal best of 9.72 seconds which makes him the fourth-fastest man ever. He has broken the 10-second barrier 97 times which makes him the Guinness World Record Holder.

Powell also has the world record for the 100-yard dash with a time of 9.09 seconds set in the Ostrava, Czech Republic, in 2010.

He competed in the 100m at three Olympic Games in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

The ceremony got under way by emcee Ed Barnes almost half-hour late as they awaited the arrival of Holness.

The group H.U.M.B.L.E gave a wonderful rendition of the national anthem followed by a blessing from Reverend Herro Blair Jr, after which gospel artiste Rondell Positive provided entertainment.

Comments from Dr Warren Blake, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, Marvin Anderson, president of the Olympians Association of Jamaica followed.

In the absence of the Opposition Leader Dr Peter Philips, Denise Daley, Opposition spokesperson on youth, gender affairs, entertainment and sports gave remarks on his behalf.

Entertainer Agent Sasco performed Winning Right Now in a short stint.

Minister Grange thanked Powell's parents for delivering him to the nation before revealing several stories, one of which was when a woman wanted to “tear off” Powell's clothes, but she saved him.

She also used the occasion to announce that a grant of $20,000 per week will be provided for select athletes in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games in Japan.

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