The Berlin Salute to Jamaica’s representatives at the 2009 World Championships in August got off to a glitzy start yesterday (Oct. 2) with the Golden Reception on the lawns of Jamaica House in Kingston.
The event was reminiscent of an award show or movie premier, with the red carpet laid out for the fashionably dressed athletes, who were greeted by hosts, Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange.
The thousands of family, friends and well wishers, who turned out to celebrate with the athletes, were treated to scrumptious Jamaican fare and high qualify entertainment, featuring international reggae star Shaggy, Christopher Martin, Etana, and Italian reggae artiste Alberosie. Even aspects of the Berlin Championships were recreated, with Berlino the bear, Berlin’s playful mascot present to mingle with the athletes and guests.
However, for most, the best part of the evening was being able to interact with Jamaica’s sporting heroes. University of Technology student, Leighton Jackson, said that the highlight of his night was seeing World and Olympic Champion Usain Bolt in person.
One hundred metre and 200m world record holder, Usain Bolt (right), and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, pose with Berlino, the official mascot of the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, at the Prime Minister’s Golden Reception at Jamaica House in Kingston yesterday (Oct. 2). The reception is one of a series of events planned for this weekend to honour Jamaica’s representatives at the Championships.
Former 100-metre world record holder and bronze medal winner in the just-concluded games, Asafa Powell, said he felt “overwhelmed” by the support and appreciated the personal congratulations from those present at the event.
All the athletes were given plaques to mark their achievements in Berlin, while several past athletes, such as 400-metre runner Bert Cameron, and technical and support staff in the athletics field, similarly rewarded.
Mr. Golding congratulated the athletes on their performances in track and field saying they have shown the youths of Jamaica that there is nothing they cannot achieve.
“I want them (the athletes) to be conscious of what they mean to the people of Jamaica. I don’t think they understand what they mean to the young people of this country, who now have a sense of what they can achieve. Young people, who watched them said: ‘you know what, if they can do it, I can do it as well’,” the Prime Minister said.
Describing the athletes as the “people’s champions”, Mr. Golding said this weekend’s Berlin Salute events will give the athletes a chance to celebrate directly with the people of Jamaica.
A crowd of Jamaicans show their love to former 100m world record holder and World Championships bronze medallist, Asafa Powell, as he makes his way down the red carpet at the Prime Minister’s Golden Reception held yesterday (Oct. 2) at Jamaica House in Kingston. The reception is one of a series of events planned for this weekend to honour Jamaica’s representatives at the Championships.
The Jamaicans left Berlin with seven gold, four silver and two bronze medals, which was the country’s best-ever medal haul at an international meet.
Among the most memorable Berlin moments were Usain Bolt’s record-breaking run in the 100-metre and 200-metre races; Bridgitte Foster Hylton’s celebrations following her win in the 100-metre hurdles; and Melaine Walker and Shelly-Ann Fraser’s wins in the 400-metre hurdles and 100-metre, respectively, cementing their positions as world leaders in the events.
The celebrations will continue tomorrow (Oct.4) with a fun day at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium, and will culminate with a gala at the stadium in the night.