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Usain Bolt's birthday should be national holiday in Jamaica

NATIONAL TREASURE: Usain Bolt

AUGUST 21, Usain Bolt's birthday, should be declared a national holiday. Bolt's unprecedented winning of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m races at three consecutive Olympics needs to be etched into the memory and psyche of every Jamaican. It speaks to our determination and resilience.

It demonstrates that 'we likkle, but we tallawah'. It reminds us that we are capable of being the best in the world. It encourages us to give of our best at all times. It shows the world that we are confident in our God-given abilities.

This record can only be broken in 2032, that is 16 years from now. It is unlikely even if possible. Within this record are some other world records, and to match that, the person would have to run 9.57 in the 100m, 19.18 in the 200m and have great runners with him or her like Asafa Powell, a former record holder, Yohan Blake, the second-fastest man over 200m, and Nesta Carter, who has run under 9.8 seconds. It is a tall order to follow the big man.

In addition, Bolt brought his charisma, free spirit and fun-loving attitude to the sport. He was playful, entertaining, and he understood the culture of Jamaica and those of the countries in which he performed. One could say he has a 'holiday spirit'. Holidays are meant as times to have fun and relax. Holidays help to rejuvenate the spirit to accomplish greater things. They relieve stress and allow us to enjoy life. They remind us that life is not just work; there needs to be time for family, fun and fellowship with God and other people.

Too often our high awards are reserved for politicians only. However, persons can make contributions without political action. Bolt is not a Muhammad Ali who made a political statement by refusing to be drafted by the US government to enter a war against Vietnam. Bolt is like Pelé using his feet to do the talking and being a great ambassador of the sport.

NOTHING MORE TO PROVE

This national holiday will remind us of the importance of sports and great sportsmanship in our history. We would celebrate Olympians of the past such as Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, Merlene Ottey, Deon Hemmings, Melaine Walker, Grace Jackson, etc. We would celebrate our sprint queens, Veronica Campbell, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson. The date would be around the time of the Olympics and World Championships, so it could be a grand festival.

There is controversy about where to put the Bolt statue. It should really be in Sherwood Content, Trelawny, the birthplace of Bolt. His parents live there, and it would be good for citizens and tourists to visit that place. It would lead to rural regeneration of that district.

With a national holiday, there would be no squabble over where it is to be held. Everybody can enjoy it everywhere. Nevertheless, there should be a gathering at Half-Way Tree to facilitate citizens who make that location a Mecca on race-days.

Jamaicans should allow Bolt to retire from the Olympics. There is nothing more to prove. There is a danger of overstaying his time. He is 30 years old and would be 34 by the next Olympics in Tokyo. Michael Jordan and Ali spoiled their legacy by coming out of retirement. Neymar, the Brazilian footballer, captained Brazil to an Olympic gold medal, and after scoring the final kick and receiving the trophy, he gave up the captaincy. He went out on a winning note. Let Bolt leave on the mountain top.

Let us celebrate Bolt's achievements, along with that of our other sporting heroes, by declaring his next birthday a national holiday.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.

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