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Usain Bolt gets Kingston dancing

By Nicholas Davis
Kingston, Jamaica

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Twenty seconds of mayhem as Usain Bolt smashes another record

Jamaica is proud of all its Olympians and this morning the crowds turned out for the women's and men's 4x100m relay.

Hopes were high for Jamaica's sprinters to get the grand slam. They had picked up all the individual gold medals. It was now time for both team events.

The place to be was Half Way Tree, a busy traffic intersection and home to the country's main bus terminus.

It has become the place to watch the sporting action from Beijing in Jamaica and whenever any of the country's local heroes take to the field the reaction is electric.

It is sheer pandemonium here, with unparalleled goodwill overflowing in the streets. It's great to see my country happy again
Rayon Prince, St. Catherine, Jamaica
Jamaican's patriotism and entrepreneurial spirit are of equal measure. They must be or else how come there are nearly as many people waving flags as selling them?

As you drive around Kingston you cannot miss the black, gold and green stuck to car bonnets, flying from buildings and being worn as patches on clothes. Jamaica's new national hero, Usain Bolt, is now everywhere.

In one bank's headquarters, his face beams out from a flag. Underneath is his previous 100m world record time that has been crossed out with 9.69 inserted in its place.

'Good, hard food'

Back on the street, shopping trolleys have been transformed into mobile takeaways as pots of boiled banana, ackee and salt fish and yams are sold to a captive audience.

Jamaicans celebrate Usain Bolt in Kingston on 22 August
A large crowd watched the sport on an open-air TV screen

"This is the food that got them there, that's what makes us the best in the world - good, Jamaican, hard food - we don't need no drugs."

The sight of Jamaica's women makes the crowd erupt. I spy the traditional instrument used to celebrate in the island's poor inner city communities, the Dutchie cover - the lids of two cooking pots banged together at full force.

The starter's gun goes off, the noise is deafening, the atmosphere electric. It is difficult to see the action but then it is clear that something is wrong. As the cameras at the Bird's Nest Stadium focus on the final leg, the Jamaicans are not in the running.

A botched handover gets replayed over and over again. Sherone Simpson never passed the stick to Kerron Stewart between the second and third leg. The crowd's moment in history is gone. The realisation is that there will not be a clean sweep but then, within minutes, people are waving flags.

"They were too quick, she didn't pass it because she was too quick. But no worry, we still love them they're still Jamaica's Number One. They make us proud, true Jamaica spirit."

It is a fact that nobody beat the Jamaicans in any race they finished, so it is true: as far as people here are concerned, they are still the best.

Bolt's moment

The morning rush hour crowd swelled early in anticipation of another gold medal in the men's 4 x100m relay.

Usain Bolt
Bolt ruled the sprints in Beijing as he collected a third gold
By the time the race was to start, the on-lookers at a busy Kingston Junction took over the road stopping buses and taxis in their path.

Police officers trying to control traffic looked aside and gave up the street as the starter gun went off.

Nestor Carter led off for Jamaica before passing the baton on to Michael Frater but the moment everyone was waiting for was Usain Bolt.

The country's new hero and the Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m then passed to Asafa Powell and Jamaica took its sixth gold medal and broke yet another world record.

Back in Jamaica the streets erupted as the country celebrated their new Olympic champions. People hugged and danced in the street.

"I'm feeling very proud of Jamaica's athletes, they're Number One, Jamaica to the world, Jamaica to the world," said one fan, full of jubilation.

"I feel like I'm drowning in the ocean because Jamaica is a champion," said one little girl.

This has been Jamaica's greatest ever medal haul at the Games. The country its now planning the biggest ever welcome home party in its history but for now they are still dancing in the streets.


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