Before there was Usain, there was …

This was a high week-end in Washington DC as we celebrated the achievements of folks of Caribbean heritage who are contributing to the richness of American life. 

This is the 16th. year of this awards ceremony coordinated by the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

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Usain Bolt was honored with the Vanguard Award for his  phenomenal accomplishments in sports. Usain was in Mexico for a previously scheduled event with the IOC.

His main ambassadors represented his presence.  Mom and Dad Bolt  and his manger Mr. Norman Peart represented our hero.

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Usain Bolt,  the 2009  Vanguard Award Recipient.

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I was privileged to spend a few hours in an intimate gathering with some track and field die-hard fans to relive Usain Bolt’s major achievements over the last few years.  To sweeten the experience, the guest of honor were the Bolts and Mr. Peart!

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The atmosphere was filled with joyful anticipation.   The closest event I could think of to give you a sense of the mood of the occasion was meeting with Mary and Joseph after Jesus had fed the 5000.  Even so, there was no trumpet blare when they arrived. If it was not for the give away  resemblance of his dad, I would have missed their entrance.

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Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt are graciously humble folks who are still trying to put context to the Cinderella-like  life they have experienced since their famous son bolted unto the world scene.  His dad shared that he still pinches himself when he is settling in in some swank hotel in his many travels.  They are pretty determined to stay grounded and remain contented in the district of Sherwood Content, Trelawny. He runs a meat store but the increased travel disrupts the store’s  routine.

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Our kind host set the mood for a great afternoon. The food was delicious and the conversation was easy with these charming folks.

Both parents were athletes, thus explaining the multiplying DNA  effect.

They shared his nickname, VJ, which he only answer from those he knows.  His dad find himself calling Bolt, well Bolt as others usually address him.

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His mom remembers the determined toddler of two wanting to go to school.  She agreed and he was off and running. At age five his marvelous speed was discovered.  They remember his only loss, his first visit to national champs.  It was a case of country boy go to town, and getting used to the logistics of the bewildering event.  He vowed that would never happen again, and so we have witnessed.

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His folks were comfortable enough to share about his religious faith.  His mom is a devout Seventh-day Adventist, but Usain had to make a decision about his athletics future given that most competitions are on Saturday.

His coach continues to support his faith development in the Baptist tradition.  Along with this issue, the luring of the females is a major concern for mom. Mom remember being in Florida when the car accident in last April occured. Her heart was only comforted knowing that dad was there to take care of business.  Dad continues to have significant influence in guiding their famous son.

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Our host then fired up the multi-media system taking us back to 2007 where his world coming out race occurred. The crescendo of stomping, screaming, and singing of the national anthem filled that living room.  It was great getting the color commentary of the Bolts as they retold the details surrounding each event.  The recordings were replayed repeatedly to squeeze every sentiment out of each event.

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When asked which was their most memorable event, they shared in synchronicity the 200 meters race at the Olympics.  Mom was confident that he would break the world record, while dad had his reservations given that he had just recently  been depleted by the emotions of the historic 100 meter record.

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Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt with Chris Daley

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Well, the work of ambassadors are tireless.   As the darkness fell, they were off again.

Let us remember this fine family in our prayers that they will have the sustaining energy to support their famous son, especially during these limelight years.