Hundreds of adoring fans turned out at the Walt Whitman Theater, Brooklyn College on Saturday, September 26, 2009 to pay tribute to the world’s fastest man, Usain “Lightning” Bolt. The event titled “A Conversation with Your Champion Usain Bolt”, organized by the Jamaica Tourist Board in partnership with the Consulate General of Jamaica, gave members of the Diaspora an opportunity to see their champion.
The event, which was moderated by Christopher J. Farley, Culture Editor of the Wall Street Journal, involved a conversation with Usain Bolt and Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, who shared in Bolt’s phenomenal Beijing and Berlin performances. From childhood memories to record-breaking moments, Bolt engaged his supporters in an open, honest and humor-filled discussion. The audience also got a chance to relive Bolt’s stunning victories as highlights of his golden moments in Beijing were shown.
The Deputy Director of Tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, David Shields, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the community celebration and welcomed Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange and Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Geneive Brown Metzger, on stage to address Bolt and members of the audience. Also in attendance was Brooklyn’s Deputy Borough President, Yvonne Graham who presented the Olympic and World Champion with a Proclamation declaring September 26, 2009 as “Usain “Lightning” Bolt’s Welcome Celebration Day in Brooklyn”.
Members of the community paid tribute to the champion. Elizabeth Briasco of the Awesome Power Track Club read a special poem written for the occasion, while prominent Jamaican Actress / Folklorist Andrene Bonner rendered a vibrant cultural performance titled “Return of the Spirit Champion”.
“Jamaica is proud to have produced an athlete with such tremendous talent and nothing is more meaningful than to celebrate with the community of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica, who have always been a pillar of strength,” noted Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism.
Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Geneive Brown Metzger, expressed delight at being able to help coordinate and participate in the occasion. “Usain, you did us proud and you will always have our community’s unwavering support as you continue to chart your course to become a legend.”
At the end of the event, Bolt thanked his fans and took some time to sign autographs and interact with members of the community.