Bolt fever

Spanish Town residents converge at construction site to glimpse sprint legend

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 18, 2019

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WHEN word got out yesterday that retired track sensation Usain Bolt was in Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, St Catherine, the atmosphere in the inner-city community was at fever pitch.

For residents, even those who care little about athletics, a legend had come to town. No one wanted to miss a piece of “history”.

It was one of the few exciting things to happen to a community which has, for years, been marred by violence, and characterised by underdevelopment and stagnation.

But even if only for a few hours, that reality was nothing but a fleeting memory.

The occasion was a partnership between Food For the Poor (FFP) and Re/Max Elite, that brought the world's fastest man to the community, along with a US$3,800 donation. This was matched by FFP, in order to facilitate the rebuilding of the home of vendor Sean Sutherland, who, along with his family, lost their house in a July fire.

Though the community never made light of the initiative they deemed “simply amazing”, the ultimate goal was to get a glimpse of, or even meet, the Olympic legend and world champion.

As Charmaine Nelson puts it, it would be a missed opportunity to not set sights on “the superstar” who, at the mere mention of his name, packs stadia, worldwide.

Young boys and girls, their parents and guardians, elders, and even men with the usual 'Grabba leaf' and energy drinks in hand flocked the location yesterday.

“He's such a role model. He's so nice; he's so beautiful,” an animated Nelson, unable to contain her excitement, told the Jamaica Observer.

“He makes Jamaica stand tall and he's here again today doing it. Therefore, when I was at the house and my neighbour came and called mi, mi seh, 'Usain? Yuh sure?' Mi run quicker than lightning come. If mi miss this mi nuh know how mi woulda sleep, and mi naah move till mi see him coming out,” she continued.

Andre Duffus, who was within earshot of the conversation, too, left his house in hopes of meeting the Jamaican marvel.

“Yeah, man, wi affi come out fi come look pon Usain enuh, because when yuh really hear seh a legend like him really inna Ellerslie a do something as charitable as this in this ghetto community, wi really feel proud. So wi really affi come out and come see him... Him coming here really lift the spirit of the community. Wi love that,” Duffus expressed.

A short distance from him, three elderly women stood together — all discussing the possibility of meeting the sprint legend.

“I see him pon TV all the time and it's the first I'm about to see him in real life and I feel so good. I remember watching him run in him yellow shoes and him win and wi said, 'Hallelujah'. Wi run to the store and wi buy the yellow shoes that him did have on. I feel so good that he is here and wi want to see him,” Jen Sinclair shared when the Observer approached the group.

For Lynnette Williams, it was unbelievable that the man who had soared to the zenith of track and field was assisting with the building of a house in the community.

“I cannot believe that he is here. If yuh did tell mi him coming yesterday (Wednesday) I would say yuh telling lie. Mi want to see the man that run for Jamaica and make wi proud. Him win and him continue winning for Jamaica, and him will continue winning as long as him live. We will continue praying for him,” Williams, who was overcome with joy, said.

Her neighbour, Beverley Kitchen, a woman of few words, also hailed Bolt for time spent rebuilding the house.

“Wi feel good about what he and the team is doing here today. Sean is a young man who try and wi wanted to see him come back up on him foot, and Usain and Food For the Poor is helping him to do that. I want to thank Usain, because he never had to be here. He's so humble and cool. Wi happy he's doing this and wi happy for Sean,” Kitchen stated.


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