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Usain Bolt immortalized in statue

Sprint legend Usain Bolt, arguably the greatest athlete of all times, has been immortalized with a statue in his honour in Kingston, Jamaica.

At a ceremony, led by Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness among other luminaries including the iconic Bolt himself, an eight-foot bronze statue was unveiled at Statue Park at the entrance of the National Stadium.

Bolt’s statue, sculpted by renowned artist Basil Watson, will now share eternal space with many of the country’s athletics great such as Herb McKinley, Merlene Ottey and Donald Quarrie.

“Never did I feel that I would be in this moment, as big as it is now, among statues at the National Stadium where it all began,” said Bolt, winner of six individual Olympic gold medals and seven individual world titles.

Bolt, the world record holder for the 100m and 200m, added: “This is why I always encourage everybody. Anything is possible, no limits. Because at no point in time did I ever think I would achieve this much, but I've always pushed on and stayed focused for what I want.”

In a video message during the ceremony, IAAF President Sebastian Coe acknowledged the impact Bolt has had on athletics.

“Usain has changed the face of our sport,” said Coe. “His has been an extraordinary career which has exemplified competitive excellence, extraordinary character, good sportsmanship and professionalism.

“His career has exemplified competitive excellence, extraordinary character, outstanding sportsmanship and professionalism, all of which has made him a global superstar.

“Usain may have left the track but I know he will never leave the sport and we look forward to working closely with him on the next part of his journey in the greatest sport on the planet,” added Coe. “On behalf of the world of athletics, thank you to a giant of world sport who has made an immense contribution to athletics worldwide.”

While lauding the achievements of the sprinter, Prime Minister Holness says it’s important that the National Stadium is upgraded to world class status to hosts world class events and nurture more Usain Bolts for the future.

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Being part of any occasion involving the iconic Usain Bolt is an opportunity not to be missed.

And so it was for young sprint phenom Christopher Scott, who recently won the sprint double at the state-run Institute of Sports Primary School Athletics Championships.

At short notice, Scott was invited by Sport Minister Olivia Grange to a press briefing at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston where a maquette of athletics biggest star was unveiled to the public yesterday.

The 45-minute journey into the country’s capital was worth it though for the 12-year-old Scott, a student of Old Harbour Primary.

Verdayne Smith, physical education teacher and coach, Old Harbour Primary, told Old Harbour News that it was an opportunity the school could not afford to let pass.

“The school is on a transformation programme. We are looking to be the choice school in Old Harbour and sport is one way of showing this to the public.

“Getting this opportunity to come on a national scale, being invited by the Minister to unveil a statue of Usain Bolt, is just another way of announcing himself to Jamaica and to show Old Harbour Primary some more and the talent that is in Old Harbour on a whole,” said Smith.

“This will also build his confidence coming off primary champs. He has been running for some time now but it’s only this year he came to the fore and every opportunity for him is just a blessing.”

In the company of some of the country’s renowned track and field dignitaries, the young sprinter had the honour, alongside the Minister to perform the official unveiling of the mini statue of Bolt, regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time.

The ultimate statue, which will be as tall as the giant frame of the legendary man himself will be mounted at Statue Park at the National Stadium.

Distinguished Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson was commissioned to design and create statues of four of Jamaica’s outstanding sports stars, namely Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell.

“The commissioning of the statues is part of the process of memorialising and celebrating the historical, social, symbolic and aesthetic value of Jamaica’s athletic achievement. Importantly, as well, this is about adding economic value to Jamaica’s sport tourism offering,” said Grange, who is also the minister in charge of culture, gender and entertainment.

All four statues will be delivered over two years, the first being the statue of Bolt, which will be ready in August.

“We chose that time for installation to coincide with Usain’s retirement and our nation’s 55th anniversary of Independence,” the Minister explained.

Miss Grange said the exact time of the unveiling would be determined by Bolt’s schedule and the availability of other athletes to attend the ceremony at Statue Road at the National Stadium.

Grange pointed out that along the way in the production process, the athletes had been consulted by the sculptor about the design of their statues.

She said that at each stage, the sculptor had provided a maquette to show a visual representation of the sculpture.

Minister Grange said there would be some adjustments by the sculptor before arriving at the final product but she gave the assurance that, “It would look like Usain Bolt in the end.”

The comments of the Minister will certainly add to the ongoing debate surrounding the quality, or lack thereof, of a sculpted bust representing National Hero Marcus Garvey recently unveiled by the University of the West Indies.

Based on past experience the Minister said presenting a maquette for scrutiny is compulsory as part of any work she has commissioned.

“We know that our athletes — particularly Usain Bolt — will be spoken of and studied by athletes, fans and lovers of sport for generations to come. As with Bob Marley, we anticipate that the people of the world will come to Jamaica to see sights associated with Bolt and our other sports stars and to learn about their history,” Grange said.

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Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sports (CGES), Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, has given her full endorsement to the Racers Grand Prix being staged by the Racers Track Club in June of this year.

Speaking at the media launch of the event at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel yesterday, Wednesday, March 9, Minister Grange said the new government of Jamaica was extremely delighted and proud that the country is staging another major track and field event of international repute.

She told those in attendance that it is time to “think big” and use sports and the creative industries to advance the economic growth agenda. “I am back and ready for the job and I want all the stakeholders to think big. We can’t be so talented and be constrained by narrow views. So I absolutely applaud this initiative by Racers Track Club and I know it will be successful.”

“We are undoubtedly the sprint factory of the world, but this latest addition to the local and international event calendars provides us as a country with the opportunity to fine-tune preparations to become dominant in other disciplines such as middle distance races and field events.”

She added, “It is clear to me that the work of past and present athletes and sports administrators such as the late legendary Herb McKenley and Howard Aris is bearing fruit today. It is the contribution of men like McKenley and Aris and others that has made the athletics world look at Jamaica with serious respect and envy.

For the world governing body to sanction the second international athletics event in Jamaica, granting us Area Permit Meet status, is concrete evidence that we are highly regarded in the eyes of the world.

Just looking at the list of confirmed athletes from other countries for this meet is convincing enough for me. The world’s top-six javelin throwers have already confirmed their participation which is quite telling!”

The inaugural Racer’s Grand Prix is set for June 11 at the National Stadium.

Minister Grange congratulated Dr. the Hon Glen Mills, OJ, who is the chairman of the organising committee, for having the vision to conceptualise the event. She applauded his commitment to aiding the development of athletics in Jamaica and noted that it is through the hard work of the coaches that Jamaica now has a large cadre of world class athletes.

In his remarks, Ambassador, Dr. the Hon Usain Bolt, said the track meet would be one of the best in the world. He promised that there would be a swell of international athletes descending on Jamaica and that he intended to put in a special performance.

Among the athletes attending the launch were sprinters Michael Frater, Zharnel Hughes, Yohan Blake, Warren Weir and hurdler, Hansle Parchment.

Minister Grange said a major part of her focus, as she leads the sports ministry, would be to seek to marry sports, entertainment and tourism and create the best opportunities for the country’s talent.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 29 September 2015 13:55

Puma signs Asafa Powell

Puma today announced a new endorsement deal with Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell. The former 100m world record holder who holds the record for the most sub-10 seconds for 100m sprints, having dipped below that mark 93 times, joins the global sports brand’s growing portfolio of athletes preparing for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Powell, 32, joins world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, as brand ambassadors of the sport apparel. Puma has recently bolstered its brand with key additions including NCAA 100m Champion Jenna Prandini, Australian sprint hurdler Michelle Jenneke and French 800m runner Pierra-Ambroise Bosse.

Powell will become an important ambassador for the Puma brand in an Olympic year and beyond. He will feature in both global marketing activations promoting running training product lines and brand campaigns in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics.

This partnership will also see Puma working with Powell to design a ‘Sub-10 King’ line of sportswear and spikes.

Speaking about the new partnership with Puma, Powell said, “Puma has played a huge role in Jamaican track and field throughout my career - supporting the high school programme that fosters young athletes, partnering with the JAAA (Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association) and JOA (Jamaica Olympic Association) and elite athletes such as Usain.

“It’s a brand I’ve been very familiar with throughout my career and their longstanding commitment to Jamaican athletics is key as we continue to build and work to maintain our recent successes. They understand Jamaican culture, history, people and also the sport that this country loves, and I am very happy to be working with them.”

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