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Bolt says farewell to Brum

LONDON BOUND: Bolt

THERE WERE lots of hugs and a few tears as Jamaica’s Olympic team left their Birmingham training camp on three coaches - next stop London 2012.

They said goodbye to the University of Birmingham around 9.30am to head for the Olympic Village amid chaotic scenes of farewells as the 75-strong team crammed into the waiting coaches with cases and trolley bags.

“See you in the village,” they shouted to each another, as they embarked on playing their own part in shaping Jamaica’s destiny over the next two weeks.

And when one of them dashed off a coach because he’d left something behind, one security guard quipped: “You’ll have to run faster than that soon!”


FOND FAREWELL: Volunteers show their support for Jamaica's Olympic athletes

Virtually the last man on was Usain Bolt, complete with his own ‘UB’ yellow cap, signing volunteers’ shirts right up to the coach door.

“Birmingham’s been the best,” he said. “We’ve been made so welcome – thank everyone for us.”

And with that he was on the waiting coach, giving university staff and the volunteers a cheery thumbs up.

The bond that had grown between the athletes and the university volunteers over the past 11 days was clear to see. Friendships have been made that will last long after the Olympic dramas are over.


ALL SMILES: Powell

Volunteer Vicki Wassell, 20, said: “I’m really sad to see them go. I feel very emotional – the whole time has been like a dream.

“We’ve made real friends – I feel especially close to Dominique Blake – she’s been fantastic. Contrary to what people might think they are not prima donnas – they are not demanding. We’ve had the most fantastic time with them.”

Another volunteer looked sad as the coaches drove away, saying: “That’s it now. Back to reality.”

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