Bolt Earns Gold on the Eve of Jamaica's 50th Anniversary

Monday, August 06, 2012

On Sunday the world watched as Jamaican-born sprinters Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake competed for gold and the title of fastest man in the world, with Bolt winning after running an Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds. Today also marks the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence. Celebrations are popping up throughout New York, and Kingston, Jamaica was enveloped by cheers following Bolt's victory. Jamaicans across the world sounded off on both the anniversary and Bolt's performance. 

Kevin Hilton is a Jamaican-born New Yorker and the public relations manager for Spur Tree Lounge, a Jamaican bar in Manhattan. Today, he's feeling "wonderful, excited, and still on the adrenaline high from yesterday." He talks about Bolt's big win, his native country's birthday, and what the two mean for Jamaicans. The irony of Bolt winning a gold medal in the capital of the nation from which Jamaica won its independence is not lost on Hilton. 

"It's just an amazing feeling. It's almost like a rebirthing again," Hilton says. "That's where we got our independence originally, [and] to do it on their stage has definitely a little, special twist to it." He says that any bitterness towards the United Kingdom has faded. 

"For us, it's just a matter of statement," he says. "'Here we are, world — listen to us. Here we are, take note of us.'" 

Hilton believes that Bolt's gold medal performance will unify the country, including the political sphere. "All barriers are broken down," he says. "That's where we are truly brought back to our core of 'out of many people, we are truly one, we're a family.'" Hilton also predicts that Jamaica will benefit economically from the spotlight that Bolt's international presence brings upon his home country. 

"This is a great platform to start moving to the next level," Hilton says. "We bring a lot to the table in a lot of different arenas, and this is definitely the arena to showcase one aspect of our culture that's been very near and dear to us." 

Guests:

Kevin Hilton

Produced by:

Robert Balint and Zachary Dinerstein

Comments [1]

Rev Michael Nicholas from Toronto, Canada

it seems the entire Usain Bolt interview was predicated on "thumbing our noses at our former colonial master, Great Britain". I don't think anyone saw irony in the date except Americans, who have a skewed vision of global affairs. Jamaica, like Canada and New Zealand and 24 other countries has Queen Elizabeth as its Head of State, and has affectionate relations with Great Britain (not just "England" as was said repeatedly in the broadcast). White and Black (and Brown and ....) Jamaicans together recognise the British heritage of the island not as oppression, but just heritage. Do Southern blacks in Mississippi still think of their white neighbours as "former masters"? Of course not.

Aug. 07 2012 05:41 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.