Jamaica Erupts

Kingston billboard reads "These are our golden times"

By Dania Bogle in Kingston


Neither dark clouds, nor rain, nor threat from Tropical Storm Ernesto could dampen Jamaican spirits on Sunday as they cheered, screamed, shouted, yelled, and ran around in wild jubilation.


Usain Bolt had streaked into history, taking the men's 100m title at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In the Kingston neighbourhood of Half Way Tree, hundreds gathered a day before Jamaica celebrated its 50th anniversary of Independence from Great Britain.


They watched the  event from the large video screen inside Mandela Park despite the constant drizzle from the outer bands of the storm (Ernesto) expected to hit the island by Monday afternoon.


Workers from a nearby takeaway restaurant could be seen among the crowd knocking pot covers together in celebration.


The scene was the same at bars and supermarkets across the island.


Bells ring


Cashiers and shoppers alike at a nearby supermarket stopped  to watch the big moment and there were fears that customers would accidentally knock items off the shelves so wild was the celebration.


Even churches got into the act. 


At Swallowfield Chapel in the capital Kingston, "Jamaica Day" was being celebrated.


One congregation watched races from two large screens inside the church building as their solid slab roof helped to shield them from the nagging showers.


Cheers started the moment the sea of yellow and green-clad church members caught a glimpse of Bolt and Blake while sections of the congregation waved large black, green and gold Jamaican flags.


Paralympian, Sylvia Grant, who had touted Bolt for victory, spoke confidently when the 6"5" tall athlete came home in a new Olympic record 9.63 seconds.


"People was saying he is this and he is that but I was saying he was giving my guy (Yohan Blake) a chance to win to help Jamaica but, when he go over there, I know he would pick up the gold," she told Caribbean Intelligence. 


in an interview with Caribbean media in London following the race, Bolt said he was delivering on a promise.


"I told them I was going give them a birthday present," he said.


At one venue, a doctor of sports medicine Paul Wright joked that the man to beat Bolt had not yet been born.


Another said he wasn't sure where Bolt got his talent but added: "Wherever it is that he is from, I am happy that he represents Jamaica."


"Jamaica turn up the thing," shouted another woman, quoting a local slang.



On Monday morning, Jamaicans awoke to news that the warning for Tropical Storm Ernesto had been discontinued as the weather system moved away from the island.


"Ernesto might have spared Jamaica, for the most part, but the world felt the effects of 'Hurricane Bolt'," said the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.


Even news of a medical scan for the injured Powell and the crashing out of some Jamaican athletes from Monday's early events did nothing to dampen the independence party spirit.


Many Jamaicans, at home and abroad, tweeted support to Powell, who is one of the squad's most regular tweeters.


"You are the pacesetter...we can only follow you. Get well soon. We need the real big man for the relays," some fans retweeted at Powell on Monday.


As well as events in the diaspora, particularly Olympic London, Monday events in Jamaica peak with a "Tributes in Gold" Gala at the National Stadium with 3,000 performers.