Bolt around the world

The 2012 Olympics created many stars, but none as big as the rocket man – Bolt, as Virendra Weerapperuma reports. His feats overshadowed every single headline at the London Games. He basically stole the show, rather than sharing it with others like Phelps who also reached a great milestone in Olympics history. If anyone had any doubt about his form before the Olympics (when he was beaten twice), then he proved them all wrong with his casual, yet ‘I mean business’ demeanor.

The Beijing games did put Jamaica on the sprint map, but at London, Jamaica proved it is more than just about Bob Marley music and being the Chill-Out capital of the world. But the great thing about Bolt and his fellow Jamaican athletes is that they bring the ‘fun’ into an epic arena like the Olympics. This is why it is so easy to become fans of the Jamaicans and Bolt in particular.  And in a way, the typical ‘chill’ attitude and the Bob Marley flavour comes out in their athleticism and their attitude. That’s what’s cool about the Jamaicans.

Bolt is truly one of a kind. He is so casual at the starting block, you wonder if he is actually on cloud nine! And then when he finishes his race you can be assured of his signature pose (which no one has yet coined a name for). It’s just a matter of time before someone actually does give his signature ‘pose’ an appropriate name.
 The difference between him and his ‘critic’ Carl Lewis is the attitude. No matter what Carl Lewis has to say about Bolt and his fellow Jamaicans, they’ve proved that they are the dominant force in the field of sprinting. In fact, they have managed to inspire many other smaller, less sophisticated nations who have come to believe ‘they too can do it’. One of the interesting facts at the sprint events this year is the emergence of other nations like the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. May be they did not achieve the same kind of glory, but they sure got the attention of the world. So those are nations to watch out in the future.

Bolt has simply become a phenomenon around the globe. Everybody loves him and he has fans across all races and ages. Recently I was at a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch at a friend’s and was quite amused to see his little four year old daughter running up and down saying she is ‘running like Usain Bolt’. That just goes to show how much of an icon he has become.

Most people would think this is because of his achievements on the track, but it is more because of his casual attitude, his crazy antics and the little things he does, that we will remember him by, long after he has run his races and finished his course. When the female fan jumped on him and clung on his shoulder after the 4 x 100 meter relay win on the last day of the Olympics, he just kept supporting her with one hand and went on greeting his fans with the other. Then who could forget the moment when the track officials were running after him as soon as the relay ended as he was running around the track with the relay baton in his hand, wanting to keep it as a souvenir.

There is no doubt about his re-appearance in Rio de Janeiro in four years. One thing is for sure; if he managed to get a rather stiff and serious city like London on their toes, he will surely be dancing the samba in Rio.
 From a marketing point of view, he is sure to become one of the most bankable brand ambassadors of the future. But of course, he will not be the ideal choice for ‘serious and stiff brands’. No wonder Branson chose to tie him into some of the Virgin brands early, even before Olympics glory. Perhaps they have something in common. They are both rebels and have kicked out the ‘seriousness’ out what they do best (business and athletics). No wonder Prince Harry made Jamaica his first sole trip abroad in an official capacity a few months before the Olympics and Bolt and the prince got on so well. Harry too, like Bolt, has proved time and time again, that he is not your ‘usual, stiff upper lipped prince’ and the Las Vegas ‘crown jewels’ photo affair proved just that. There is no doubt that one of his biggest English fans is a Royal, and a rebel like him.

For the original report go to

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