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Jamaica celebrates Bolt's double

By Nick Davis
BBC News, Kingston

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Twenty seconds of mayhem as Usain Bolt smashes another record

The streets around Half Way Tree are always busy - it is one of the main roads running through Kingston and is home to the city's main bus terminal.

It is dominated by an old clock tower but on Wednesday, two giant screens were the centre of attention.

The streets came to a standstill as the public spilled out of nearby offices, shops and buses to watch a moment marked in history.

Jamaica has become a super power in track and field events in recent years, but its last success in the 200m for men was in 1976 when Donald Quarrie took gold.

And the nation had never triumphed in the men's 100m until Saturday, when Usain Bolt smashed the record and took the elusive gold medal.

Riding high on the success of their hero the crowd were already predicting a new world record, even before the race began.

"They should build a new national stadium for Jamaica when Usain wins the 200m, a brand new one in his honour when he mashes up the record," said one fan.

Wild crowds

As the race was about to begin, Bolt's appearance on the big screen caused pandemonium.

Bolt walked around the starting line, soaking up the moment and playing to the crowd in the Bird's Nest Stadium - he was also performing to his fellow countrymen here in Kingston.

When he arrives, we'll carry him on our shoulders from the airport
Fan in Kingston
Flags were being waved in a frenzy and every time the cameras cut to Bolt the crowds would scream, shout - and in some cases jump up and down - in anticipation.

But as the runners went into the blocks the crowd fell nearly silent.

When the gun went off, people surged forward into the middle of the road, stopping buses and trucks to get the best view.

As Bolt went into the lead they went wild, and when he crossed the finishing line in first place and in record time, the noise was deafening.

A combination of screams, shouts, and car horns started in unison as people began to take in what they had just witnessed.

For most Jamaicans the result was expected, but had he taken the world record?

Jamaican whispers

For a moment which seemed like an eternity, there was the Jamaican version of Chinese whispers, which are more akin to a shout.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the 200m sprint in Beijing, China (20/08/2008)
Bolt will receive a red carpet welcome on his return home
Bolt had indeed broken American athlete Michael Johnson's world record of 19.32 seconds, by clocking 19.30 in Beijing.

"He's taken home the gold in the 100 and 200m. When he arrives, we'll carry him on our shoulders from the airport to here," said one person in the crowd.

No mean feat, when you consider the airport is a good half hour's journey by car, never mind by foot with a crowd of thousands.

But here in Jamaica, Bolt's welcome home from the Beijing Games will be unprecedented in the island's history.

Sports minister, Olivia "Babsy" Grange, has already announced that a red carpet will be rolled out for the competitors who have taken part in the games, but Usain Bolt will undoubtedly be the centre of attention.

At the end of the race the sprinter was seen dancing to the Nuh Linga, a dance made popular by dancehall artist Elephant Man.

The celebrations are only just beginning for the sprinter, who turns 22 on Thursday. But he still has his heart set on gold in the 4x100m on Friday night, so he will have to wait.

Back home, they have already started celebrating on his behalf.





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