Jamaica jubilant as Olympic team sweeps 200-meter

AP News
Posted: Aug 09, 2012 6:47 PM
Jamaica jubilant as Olympic team sweeps 200-meter

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Throngs of Jamaicans erupted with shouts of joy Thursday as Usain Bolt and two of his countrymen swept the men's 200-meter race at the London Olympics.

Watching the race on big video screens in Halfway Tree, one of Kingston's busiest intersections, people waved flags, blew long horns known as zuzuvelas, and chanted "One, two, three!" as Bolt and fellow Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Warren Weir finished ahead of the pack.

Many blissed-out revelers on the small Caribbean island mimicked Bolt's famous "To Di World" pose, in which he points to the sky as if he's about to shoot an arrow.

Drivers stuck in traffic honked their horns. One motorist shouted out his window that Jamaicans had just witnessed "something very special" as the country of less than 3 million people showed its global dominance in sprinting.

"Lightning Bolt did it just like he said he would! Living legend, the big man is a living legend!" shouted Liza Barrington, who was decked out head-to-foot in the national colors of green, gold and black.

Bolt won the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds Thursday, making him the only man with two Olympic titles in that event.

Eight-year-old Athalia Miller couldn't contain her elation as she watched the pandemonium of revelers jumping and embracing in the streets.

"I feel very great!" the schoolgirl gushed, waving a small Jamaican flag.

Before the race, most people in the crowd were confidently predicting a Jamaican sweep.

"One, two, three. Bolt, Blake and the other guy. One, two, three!" said Garfield Grier, a security guard who came to watch the race with his lanky 13-year-old daughter, an aspiring athlete.

The 6-foot-5 Bolt has always considered the 200-meter race his favorite competition. On Thursday, when he put his left index finger to his mouth to tell any critics to shush in the final meters of his victorious race, spectator Leonard Bates burst into raucous laughter.

"Bolt knows the truth: Nobody can touch him! Man, Usain knows who is No. 1," said Bates, doubling over and clapping his hands when he watched the sprint on replay.

For months, Jamaicans have been debating whether Bolt or his rival and teammate Blake would win in London. Blake, Bolt's workout partner and blisteringly fast rival, had beaten the Jamaican sensation in the 100- and 200-meter finals during the island's Olympic trials and Bolt's subsequent withdrawal from a meet in Monaco only added to the intrigue and set up the most anticipated story line of the 2012 Games.

But just as he did during the 100-meter dash Sunday, Bolt delivered a huge performance again with Blake taking the silver.

Jamaicans said they believed their beloved Bolt had achieved his goal of returning from London as nothing less than a "living legend."

"He's a living legend, all right. It's for sure now," said Oneill Brown, holding his young son on his shoulders.


David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd