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Sports Minister Olivia Grange said Usain Bolt ran himself into the league of the greatest Jamaicans of all time tonight by smashing multiple records in Beijing. She rated his performance at the 29th Olympic Games where he won gold in the 100 and 200 metres in world record times as comparable to Garvey’s seminal, philosophical impact on the world and Bob Marley’s iconic status as a music and revolutionary figure worldwide.
She said: “Usain has placed himself amongst our greatest heroes. He has brought the name Jamaica to lips of billions of people worldwide. He has introduced them to a great nation and a great people. At this point, he is our greatest ambassador and he is not only taking our athletics into the mainstream, but he’s working overtime to ensure that Jamaican culture is recognized across the world. ”
Bolt not only erased Carl Lewis’ 24-year record of winning both short sprints at the Olympic Games, but also rewrote Michael Johnson’s 12-year, 19.32 record in the 200 Metres by posting a phenomenal 19.30 seconds. He became the first man in history to break the world record in both races, having recorded 9.69 in the 100 Metres on Saturday.
Minister Grange said Bolt had positioned himself to stand among the nation’s greatest achievers from all walks of life, with these results.
“What we witnessed tonight in Beijing was extraordinary. As we say in Jamaica, ‘it nuh normal!’ We always knew Usain was going to be special in these Games but it’s hard to believe what we have been witnessing in Beijing. This will be taught in schools; it will be included in history books; Usain Bolt is a legend that will be part of Jamaican folklore for centuries to come.”
“I wish him a Happy Birthday tomorrow but he’s so special that he chose his own birthday present. We often look on in awe at people from other countries doing astonishing things. This is the time for others to look at Jamaica and as Sports Minister I’m in a continuous state of euphoria in Beijing. I can’t imagine that it could have been better.”
Minister Grange also expressed congratulations to Melaine Walker, who devastated the field to cop gold and an Olympic record in the Women’s 400 Metres Hurdles.
She said: “Melanie came into these Games with a fantastic record. She distinguished herself as a champion. She capped the night when Jamaica reminded the world that great achievements come from our tiny island. Melanie has brought joy to so many people in Maxfield Avenue, Kingston, and Jamaica on a whole.
“These athletes are not only showing the world that we are special but they are telling ordinary people in Jamaica that we can be what we want to be. Our young people have many reasons to draw inspiration from what we are seeing. We want to use these successes to reassure those who are already on the path to success and encourage those who might be headed in the wrong direction to find focus and share in the bliss of success.”