SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — World Athletics Championships gold medallist in the 400m Antonio Watson was handed the keys to the municipality of Savanna-la-Mar, in recognition of his stellar performance in Budapest, Hungary.
A float parade, which started at Watson's alma mater, Petersfield High, saw students, and past teachers alike, celebrating the 21-year-old on Friday.
Watson was presented with the keys by Deputy Mayor Ian Myles. Watson's Coach Machel Woolery was presented with a plaque for his service.
Myles said in watching the final of the 400m he was impressed with Watson's win.
"I don't know where you found that guts over the last 15 to 20 metres of the race and at one point you were in third and then I saw him reeling everyone in and I said, 'Yes, this young man has the drive, he has the burning desire to succeed'. That is what makes a champion," Myles stressed.
Myles said he is hoping for great things from Watson come next year's Olympics.
"On behalf of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, we have something beautiful, we have something grand. This key will serve, no doubt, [that] you are a role model and will continue to be a role model for younger student athletes," Myles said in handing over the keys to Watson.
The homecoming celebration was organised by Myles, independent Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland George Wright and the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
Watson, in receiving the keys, lauded persons for their unwavering support and noted how grateful he is for the recognition.
"Thank you all for coming out here and supporting me to the fullest. It has been a great day. Continue to support everyone you can, it may go a far way," Watson said.
Wright in his address lauded Watson for his remarkable performance in Budapest.
"Hats off to the great man who we will continue to celebrate his legacy, we will continue to acknowledge him," Wright said.
Watson's mother Tianga Buchanan, who was present at the ceremony, told the Jamaica Observer that she is proud of her son.
"I feel proud as always. I am extremely proud.It's really good to see that Westmoreland appreciated what he has done. I just wish for him the best and that he will continue to give his all, and enjoy himself while doing it," the mother said.
Watson became the second Jamaican man to win the World Championships 400m gold medal after producing a spectacular last 60 metres with a winning time of 44.22 seconds.
He joined Bertland Cameron, the first Jamaican to win the event 40 years ago at the first-ever staging of the event in Helsinki, Finland.