Don Anderson’s first-hand account of the mayhem of Bolt’s journey to the Opening CeremonyMonday, July 30, 2012
All of us taking part in the athletes' parade did not get a chance to see the Opening Ceremony; but the Jamaican contingent got to see the Usain Bolt show on our way to the stadium.
Bolt was selected as the flag bearer. He readily agreed to do this, but as the time drew near (7:00 pm for a 9:00 pm departure from the village) we learnt that he was not keen to march again, as we had to walk the mile to the stadium and he was concerned, as we all were, that he would be harassed.
Eventually, he agreed to go ahead and what happened next is just simply unbelievable.
I have never seen anyone cheered and shouted after as Bolt was for the mile journey. Schoolchildren and adults lined the route in thousands and we heard cheers of "Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt" the whole way. I mean the noise was deafening and the cheers went on nonstop.
Autograph hunters, people who just wanted to touch his hands, people who just wanted to see him, thronged the place. He obliged and worked the show. He ran along the barrier, touching hands, playing with his supporters and taking photos with them. He danced his way down the road, ran up to something that looked like a ref's chair at a tennis match and sat; and of course, he did his famous pose.
Athletes from other countries walking the route left their delegations and found their way amongst us just wanting a photo op with him and he obliged, especially with the pretty girls, and there were plenty.
I have never seen anything like this, nor certainly have I been involved with anything like this. But you know how we were able to get through? The six biggest guys in our team, the shot putter, the discus thrower, all six-foot-three and more had to form a human barricade around him and ward off athletes from other countries, security persons whose job it was to maintain order in the lines and volunteer staff guiding the parade, from getting too close to him.
It was a crazy scene. When we got inside to the centre of the field, they came from near and far. I don't think anyone heard what was being said in the stadium, everyone was just coming to get a photo of Bolt, people standing on chairs, cameras held aloft. When he got tired and sat down, surrounded by his 'bodyguards' people got chairs and still found ways to try to get a shot at him.
It was just incredible. And throughout it all, he loved it. He has a personality second to none.
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