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Bolt wins trigger all-night parties
Since Jamaican athletes began hauling in the medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, jubilant citizens have been flooding the streets in celebration of their achievements, transforming towns and villages with a carnival atmosphere. But the historic run by the indomitable Usain Bolt who retained his Olympic 200-metres title on Thursday at the Olympic Stadium sent his home country into a frenzy. Bolt became the first athlete to ever repeat as 100- and 200-metres champion in successive Olympics. And the fact Bolt’s fellow countrymen Yohan Blake and Warren Weir copped the silver and bronze, respectively, in the 200 metres, further sparked non-stop partying.
“The country has been in party mode since we began winning medals and yesterday it moved up to fever-pitch,” said Arthur Halls, senior editor at the Jamaica Gleaner in Kingston. During a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Halls said that Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has set up a committee to plan welcome-home celebrations for their athletes, who up to yesterday morning had bagged nine medals, making them the most successful Caribbean country so far. So proud are Jamaica of their athletes, that there will be a motorcade in Trelawny where Bolt lives, which will be replicated in other parts of the island.
However, he said calls by several persons through social networking sites and talk shows for a public holiday have been rejected by Simpson-Miller. He said, though, that there were no formal requests and believes that Simpson-Miller declined a holiday because of heavy criticism faced by former leader PJ Patterson after he declared a holiday after the Reggae Boyz had qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France.
Also, he said the Prime Minister does not have the power to declare a public holiday unilaterally and that it must be an Act of Parliament. But Halls said people have begun celebrating on their own, with several nightclubs hosting victory parties on Thursday night, including a massive one at Bolt’s Track and Record Night Club in Kingston.
“There has been a lot of celebration since the first medal was won early in the games, that was the women’s 100-metres final where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took the gold and Jamaica won two medals in that race. Since then, there has been constant celebrations, which coupled with the 50th anniversary of independence. It has been party mode and yesterday’s victory in the men’s 200-metres race, moved it to fever pitch,” Halls said.
“In most of the capital towns, people have gathered, like at Half-Way Tree, the capital of the St Andrew’s Parish, people have gathered to watch the events on big-screen televisions. There are televisions placed in an outdoor area and people are in the middle of the streets and traffic comes to a standstill and it remains like that until after the race. Yesterday, it remained a little longer than the four or five minutes.”
Halls said that the Jamaicans are expecting their athletes to capture a further three medals before the games are over. He said Jamaicans were expecting to win the men’s 4X100-metres sprint and cop a medal in the women’s 4X100-metres event. He said Jamaicans had predicted 12 to 15 medals at the games but they were thrown off course with failures in the men’s 4X400-metres relay and the 400-metres hurdles.
However, he said they were undaunted by that and Bolt, Blake and Weir’s blitzing in the 200 metres lifted the spirit of the country. Asked about his thoughts on why Jamaica had been dominating athletics competitions over the past decade, Halls, who was a bit hesitant to answer, said it may be due to the level of competition in the country, starting from the junior level.
“Our athletes would have competed in our annual boys and girls’ championships, where they compete in front of 30,000 to 40,000 people. School rivalry is strong in Jamaica and the pressure people put on them from an early age, I suspect, is what gets them there. There are several other factors but the ability to deal with the pressure that they face is key.”
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