Western Grandstand | Time to give Bolt his due out west
So after 13 years as an icon in global track and field, the legendary Usain Bolt has called time on his illustrious career and ran his last competitive race on local soil at the 2017 JN Racers Grand Prix.
In fact, in another few weeks, he will officially close the book on his career at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England, where I am sure his loyal fans will be hoping that he will bid the world farewell with yet another 100m gold medal.
To say that Bolt has served Jamaica well would be an understatement. With six individual Olympic Games gold medals and seven individual IAAF World Championships, alongside his 100m and 200m world records, this phenomenon is without question the greatest athlete the world has seen.
As I have been saying and writing in this column since Bolt announced himself to the world at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I am really disappointed by the glaring lack of genuine effort on the part of officialdom to seek to immortalise this great man in his home parish of Trelawny.
While it is true that there has been the odd motorcade and a few celebratory events in his home district, Sherwood Content, nothing of note has been done to tie Bolt to his western Jamaica roots. Even the planned statue for Falmouth has turned out to be quite a big joke.
It is against the background of the above that I wish to revisit some of the suggestions and recommendations I have made to adequately recognise Bolt in a part of the island where even tourists, who sometimes stray into his home district, consider very special.
First, I believe the highway from Duncans, Trelawny, to the overhead pass at the Martha Brae intersection, which is close to Bolt's alma mater William Knibb High School, should be renamed the Usain Bolt Boulevard.
Second, I believe the Trelawny Stadium should be upgraded with a running track and the entire facility renamed the Usain Bolt International Stadium. Despite producing athletes of the class of Bolt and Veronica Campbell-Brown, Trelawny remains a parish with only dirt and grass tracks.
My third recommendation is to rename the William Knibb High School, which also happens to be my old high school, the Usain Bolt High School. Personally, I believe the current name was a mere token name, and with Bolt's global standing, his name would carry more tangible worth.
Finally, if we should have a Usain Bolt Boulevard, a Usain Bolt Stadium, a Usain Bolt High School and his home district, Sherwood Content, all in a fairly small geographical space, I believe with a proper statue in Falmouth and a nice museum somewhere in the mix, we could well create a tourism package around Bolt, in much the same way we have been doing with Bob Marley.
If I have any disappointment about Bolt personally, it would have to be the fact, as was pointed out to me earlier this week by some students from Irwin High School, that he has not run here in western Jamaica since he became a global star. Maybe his connections could arrange a farewell meet at the Catherine Hall Stadium and get him to even jog a 100m.
Whether or not the students at Irwin High get a chance to see Bolt blazing down the track live and in living colours at Catherine Hall, or whether or not an appropriate monument will be created for him in the west, I am sure that the wonderful memories he has given the region, albeit via television, will not fade any time soon.