Work on Statutes for Olympians Advanced

Story Highlights

  • The Government-commissioned statues of multiple medal winning Olympians, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, are on course for delivery this year, in keeping with the administration’s timeline announced in late 2016.
  • Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, says work by renowned sculptor, Basil Watson, who is designing the pieces in consultation with the Ministry and athletes, is advanced, adding that the end products will be completed overseas.
  • Miniter Grange said both Mr. Bolt’s and Mrs. Fraser-Pryce’s statues are scheduled to arrive in August and November respectively.

The Government-commissioned statues of multiple medal winning Olympians, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, are on course for delivery this year, in keeping with the administration’s timeline announced in late 2016.

Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, says work by renowned sculptor, Basil Watson, who is designing the pieces in consultation with the Ministry and athletes, is advanced, adding that the end products will be completed overseas.

She said both Mr. Bolt’s and Mrs. Fraser-Pryce’s statues are scheduled to arrive in August and November respectively.

Both pieces are two of four which Mr. Watson has been commissioned to produce for four of Jamaica’s most recent Olympians who have excelled in athletics globally.

The others are Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell, whose statues are slated for completion in 2018.

The four statues are being undertaken at a cost of approximately $51.8 million (US$400,000) with funding from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and will measure between seven and eight feet in height.

The Minister was speaking at a media briefing at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Friday, June 16, where a maquette (miniature model) of Usain Bolt’s statue was unveiled.

A similar maquette, which has also been developed for Mrs. Fraser-Pryce, is expected to be unveiled at a later date.

Ms. Grange said it is anticipated that Mr. Bolt’s statue, which will be mounted in Statue Park, adjacent to the National Stadium, inside the Independence Park Complex, will be officially unveiled in October to coincide with the Heritage Week/National Heroes Day celebrations.

She said the Ministry was also seeking to involve several of Jamaica’s other athletes in that event.

The Minister noted, however, that a number of them were expected to participate on the racing circuit following the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championship in London, England, in August.

As such, she said the date for the unveiling was subject to their schedules and Mr. Bolt’s availability.

Ms. Grange said the statues’ commissioning formed part of the process of “memorializing and celebrating the historical, social, symbolic and aesthetic value of Jamaica’s athletic achievements”, adding that “importantly, this is about economic value to Jamaica’s sports tourism offering.”

In this regard, she thanked the SDF for supporting the initiative, pointing out that “none of this would be possible without their cooperation.”

Ms. Grange also announced that as part of the agreement with Mr. Watson, the renowned sculptor will waive his intellectual property rights for any miniature reproduction of the statues, “as long as the proceeds are going towards the development of sports and the creative industries.”

Meanwhile, the Minister dismissed the picture of a statue of Mr. Bolt which she said has been circulating on social media as a “fake”, asserting that based on Mr. Watson credentials, “there is no way that (he) would have produced that image that is causing public concern.”

For his part, Mr. Watson lauded Ms. Grange and the Ministry for facilitating the “marriage” between sports, specifically athletics, and art which he said “can support and deliver the message of what our people achieve (and their) dreams and aspirations.”

“This is how I see my task affecting the Jamaican youth (who dream) of achieving some of the great things that our forefathers have achieved in sports, culture, art and music…and I am pleased to see the Ministry supporting and developing this cause,” he added.

Sports Development Foundation Director, Ian Forbes, said the entity was proud to have played its part in facilitating the initiative.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association President, Dr. Warren Blake, noted that Usain Bolt, like Jamaica’s other athletes, has brought tremendous value to athletics as well as brand Jamaica.

“It is only fitting that we pay tribute to our heroes and those who have served us well…and this statue is only a small token of appreciation of a grateful nation…and a sterling tribute to the greatness of Usain,” he added.

For his part, representative of Racers Track Club, with which Usain Bolt has been affiliated for the duration of his athletics career, Dennis Gordon, urged corporate Jamaica to support the search for another potential Jamaica athletics superstar by “coming on board at the developmental stage.”

Usain Bolt, who has won multiple Olympic and World Athletics Championship Gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 metres events, dating back to the 2008 Beijing Olympiad in China, will retire from competitive track and field competition after the London Championships in August.

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