Olympic gold medallist, Asafa Powell, received a hero’s welcome on Monday (October 6), when he visited his alma mater, Charlemont High School, in St. Catherine.
Mr. Powell, who was accompanied by his parents, was greeted in front of the school by scores of students, who formed a guard of honour made up of members of the school’s track and field, football and netball teams, as well as the speech and drama, and Lion’s clubs.
Tribute was later paid to the athlete in music, drama, song, and dance, performed by students. Mr. Powell, who graduated from the school in 2000, also received a gift from the institution. He also unveiled a mural of himself.
The visit was one of several events planned over seven days in honour of the outstanding performance of Jamaica’s athletes at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China in August, where Jamaica copped 11medals, six gold, three silver, and two bronze.
The 4×100 metres champion, who on Saturday was awarded the Order of Distinction, expressed appreciation for the warm welcome and urged the students to do well. He said that even though he had written in the school’s year book that he wanted to become the fastest man in the world, he could not have achieved it without hard work.
“So I went out with the school’s motto, always striving for excellence. That’s what I was doing and am still doing. I haven’t reached the peak yet, but I’m on my way there,” he said.
He told the students that regardless of their background or where they lived, they could still “go out and make something” of their life. “Just have faith in yourself; work hard towards your dreams,” he added.
Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist, Asafa Powell, waves to students on his arrival at Charlemont High School in St. Catherine, his alma mater, yesterday (October 6). His visit is part of the Homecoming celebrations for Jamaica’s team to the recent Beijing Olympic Games.
He advised them to remain focussed, stay humble, and try to be the best that they could be in spite of the many distractions around them.
“It’s a great feeling out there and everybody here can really reach that level, whether it is football, basketball, netball, or dancing. You can make it. So just work hard and continue striving for excellence.”
Deputy Principal of Charlemont High, Jennifer Gidden, said that Asafa’s ability was noticed many years ago, when he excelled in track and field events at the Ewarton Primary and Charlemont High Schools.
She said it was the sports mistress of Charlemont High, Elaine Fraser, who first recognised the raw talent that he possessed.
“It was through her initial pushing and prodding that the right people began to take notice of this extraordinary human being,” she said, adding that his journey to become a world famous athlete, got the boost when he entered the University of Technology.
Principal of the School, Ralph Williams, in an interview with JIS News, said that the celebrations in honour of Mr. Powell were appropriate, since the community and the school recognise him as a role model, because of his good character during his years as a student at the school. “To us he is a role model because when he was a student here he was very humble and of good character and from a Christian background. And in that context, we look to him as a role model,” he said.
He said the mural of Mr. Powell was established by the school to honour him, and for the students to see him as a motivating factor.