SB Nation

Sam Riches | August 29, 2013

Dreams Need Strong Shoulders

With poverty, violence and hopelessness rampant in Jamaica, Usain Bolt provides promise and credibility to an island and a sport that desperately needs it.

Usain Bolt took six strides and then ripped his singlet off over his head. It dropped to the ground, a crumpled pile of yellow fabric on the midnight blue track. Then he shouted, his mouth open wide, his body bounding up and down into the air, as if the energy pulsing through him was too much to contain. The crowd - 30,000 strong - shouted along with him, in shared disbelief.

Moments before, as he lowered his sinewy body into the starting blocks, television announcers told the world that only the headwind that blew through the night could stop him from "running one of the best times in history."

It was not an unreasonable claim. Prior to the race, Bolt, the world record holder in the event since 2008, had run two blistering heats in the men's 100-meter trials, effortlessly overtaking his opponents, even slowing his pace over the final 30 meters and still winning, defiantly. But now, the announcer said something else.

"Look at his face," he said. "He knows he's just committed the biggest mistake of his career."

That was two years ago, at the biennial International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in South Korea. Bolt, seemingly unmovable at the top of the sprinting world, had fallen before the IAAF's newly instituted rule that a single false start meant automatic disqualification.

Bolt walked away from the track, but not out of sight of the cameras. The sprinters returned to the starting blocks and settled into place. This time, they waited for the gunshot to ring out. In the end Bolt's fellow countryman, Yohan Blake, won the gold and claimed the world title.

Bolt sat with his back up against a wall, his head propped up in his hands, his eyes sunken and deflated. The icon, the legend, the savior of the sport, had finally stumbled, tripped up by a rule.

The story had seemed too good to be true, a tiny Caribbean island, home to less than three million people, churning out the fastest athletes in the world.

This August, Bolt and 43 others from Jamaica's elite track and field corps traveled to Moscow to compete at the 2013 World Championships. Blake did not join him due to injury. Veronica Campbell Brown, who won gold in South Korea in the 100 meter and silver in the 200 meter, and Olympic gold medalists Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson also didn't make the trip. Their reasons were more troubling. The trio, along with two other members of Jamaica's team, all tested positive for banned substances.

The story had seemed too good to be true, a tiny Caribbean island, home to less than three million people, churning out the fastest athletes in the world. And when the team first began to arrive in Moscow on Aug. 1, they all knew that their reputations, justly or not, were now on the line. Maybe the drugs explained it, maybe the accusations were right.

In light of the doping scandal, the pressure for Bolt, already immense, grew even more staggering. It was now up to him to take the stage and make things right again.

***

Back on the island, as the team traveled to Moscow, it's 100 degrees outside Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay - 116 according to the heat index, which factors in the humidity. In the distance, the horizon ripples under the weight of the heat. A swarm of drivers-for-hire rush the airport's exits, fighting for the attention of tourists and idling taxis fill the parking lot.

Just beyond the airport are a Harley Davidson shop and a few American chain stores. Past that, there's a roundabout that shoots outgoing traffic into the countryside. There are a few golf courses, giant swathes of clear-cut land with hard brown grass, but not a single golfer in sight. Resorts line the north side of the road, their ocean front facades only visible above the concrete fences and steel gates that keep them enclosed and protected.

On the south side is the Jamaica the guidebooks ignore, a mix of homes, mostly concrete with patchwork tin roofs, and small shops. Every third or fourth building appears to be abandoned, or burned out and unliveable, or in some other critical state of decay and neglect.

9461027578_f1573fdd64_k_mediumPhoto by Sam Riches

This is not the Jamaica one is supposed to see, what Jamaica wants you to see. Jamaica wants you to see Usain Bolt.

Merchants sit along the roadside behind wooden stables stacked with sugarloaf pineapples. Others wander through the traffic when it comes to a stop, holding out stems of bright green grapes. Police stand on the shoulder, watching the traffic pass, dressed in navy blue fatigues, with black bulletproof vests, high boots and heavy looking automatic weapons strapped across their chest.

There are laws on the road, of course, but no one seems to obey them. In a 50-kilometers per hour zone, the traffic moves at twice that speed. Cars zip by, over solid median lines and oncoming traffic casually pulls onto the shoulder to avoid head-on collisions. No one seems bothered, save for a large American tourist seated at the front of a taxicab, who, after a series of tight turns at high speeds, vomits all over the van's gray vinyl flooring. The vehicle pulls into a bar called the Coconut Tree where the drink special of the day is called the Dirty Banana and costs three American dollars. As the driver splashes buckets of water into the van, plumes of white smoke rise on the horizon from burning piles of rubbish. Goats stalk the roadside grass.

This is not the Jamaica one is supposed to see, what Jamaica wants you to see.  Jamaica wants you to see Usain Bolt.

His image is everywhere, from the moment one leaves the jetway. It's on the front page of newspapers and on magazine racks, on advertisements and posters, on T-shirts and baseball caps. And now, in the days before the World Championships, the headlines make their case - once Bolt runs, the doping scandal will be forgotten and everything will be all right again, as best as it can be.

Up the road from the Coconut Tree, there's a billboard for Digicel, a mobile telecommunications company that operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean and Central America. On it is a photograph of Bolt's back, taken from behind.  His arms are outstretched, forming a straight line. The caption reads "Living Legend." He is all that and more, simultaneously not just the face of Jamaica, but its heart, soul and, increasingly, its hope for the future - both symbolic and tangible.

Bolt, at 26 years old, made more than $20 million last year, almost all of which came from endorsements. In its annual ranking of the most marketable athletes in the world, British magazine SportsPro placed Bolt, the only Jamaican on the list, at the top of the pile, even ahead of LeBron James.

Across from the billboard, two boys run barefoot across brown dirt, racing each other down the street. They run 50 meters, then stop, turn around, and run back. They shout and laugh afterwards and then do it again. The country is captivated by sprinting, mesmerized by the transformative power of human athleticism and speed. Athletes like Bolt, whether they are equipped for it or not, are whisked into the spotlight, role models of a developing nation. Bolt and sprinting are transcendent - in sport, there is promise.

This northwest corner of the island is known as Trelawny Parish, home to slightly more than 70,000 residents. It relies, as most of the country does, on tourism, fishing, agriculture and manufacturing. It has also yielded one of the highest concentrations of track and field stars in the world. In less than three decades athletes from the area have captured 25 Olympic medals, nine of them gold.

Ben Johnson, the discredited world record holder, was the first Olympic medalist from Trelawny. After moving to Ontario at 15, he ran for Canada, setting consecutive 100-meter records in 1987 and 1988 only to have them rescinded a year later. Bolt, also from the parish, has, of course, reclaimed the 100-meter title since, and set three consecutive world record times along the way. Veronica Campbell Brown, a seven-time Olympic medalist is also from the area. As is Michael Frater, a member of the men's 4 x 100-meter relay team that set back-to-back world records at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, who, at 21 years old, was the first woman from the Caribbean to win Olympic gold in the women's 100-meter race. There are many others who tried to capture the world's attention with a few seconds of breathtaking speed, only to lose by inches.

Trelawny is mountainous, almost impenetrable, featuring heavily forested, steep-sided hollows. Escaped slaves known as Maroons once built entire communities here tucked away in the hills, out of the reach of encroaching British and Spanish colonialists. Bolt, the son of a coffee laborer, has attributed his speed and mental endurance to his early days in Trelawny, where he spent his days running up and down the mountainsides.

when Bolt or one of his teammates is on the track, there is a glimpse of a different Jamaica.

Here, in Trelawny, and the rest of the country, media coverage of the World Championships will be constant, its presence felt everywhere. At the same time, away from the world's gaze, and not far from Bolt's billboard, the bodies of two young children will be found, victims of a murder-suicide. Back in Kingston, the capital city, two men will be taken into custody when the body of Father Charles Brown, a retired 71-year-old priest, is found decomposing near a back road off the Mandela Highway. In the next week, more murders will be reported, raising concerns not only about the violence, but also for the impact on tourism and the economic cost. Jamaica, already facing crippling debt, cannot afford to lose business. Its economy, in effect, has not grown by any substantial margin in more than 30 years, and this summer, the International Monetary Fund loaned the island $1 billion to aid in debt payment.

There is poverty, violence, hopelessness and distrust almost everywhere, but when Bolt or one of his teammates is on the track, there is a glimpse of a different Jamaica, one the country hopes to project to the world. The Jamaican sprinters are relaxed, jovial, unconcerned and confident. They tease each other and their opponents and play up to the crowd. They are charismatic, and the track, in many ways, is their stage. But beneath that surface and beyond the playful antics, back home the fight for a better life wages on. In some ways, the flag they wear on their chest is also the most powerful opponent they face.

9458321911_d5aafe1083_k_mediumPhoto by Sam Riches

***

"Anywhere there is people in Jamaica, there is a church," says Frank Watson, a local driver in St. Ann, a neighboring parish. He weaves an aged gray Toyota Camry through back roads of the north coast, where the tourists visit.

Religion is deeply embedded in the Jamaican culture, a measure, perhaps, of the desire to escape the restrictions of mortality for something more, yet even God, it seems, cannot provide sanctuary for everyone. Watson drives past a Seventh-Day Adventist church, its concrete walls painted yellow and its blue tin roof rusting along the edges. A week earlier, in Kingston, a man was gunned down at the altar of the Church of God of Prophecy while a crowd was gathered inside. A 6-year-old girl, a bystander, was also shot in the attack.

"Religion is very big here," Watson says, "just like track and field." The sprinting tradition is so rich in Jamaica, as ubiquitous and ever-present as church steeples, that it seems as if nearly everyone is only one person removed from a sprinting royalty - someone who either knows Bolt, or trained with Campbell Brown, or was coached by the island's most celebrated teachers, Stephen Francis or Glen Mills.

Watson's own son once trained with Asafa Powell and under the tutelage of Francis. His abilities earned him a college scholarship in North Carolina, where he stayed. He works for Pepsi now, his sprinting days long behind him.

"He was good, he just didn't fall in the top line," his father says. "But he still got the opportunity to get to America, to go to college, to have a good life."

There is a reason to run, for just as the church offers salvation to the faithful, the finish line offers opportunity.

The car winds down the dirt roads and cyclists ride by on old bikes with frames that are too small and force their knees up into their chests as they pedal. They pass by with bags filled with fruit and slung over their shoulders and threads of rope dangling with fish, the sun reflecting off their scales. Away from the resorts, where sugar plantations, and alumina and bauxite mines propel the sputtering economy, life is lived day-to-day. Yet economic growth is thwarted by crime, corruption and one of the highest murder rates in the world. On one corner two locals barter, trading fish for a bottle of overproof rum.

In contrast, the economics of sprinting are booming. At the World Championships in Moscow, more than $7 million in prize money will be handed out. An individual gold medal nets $60,000 and even a last-place finish in the finals still delivers a  $4,000 guarantee, a significant sum on the island. Such financial incentives are driving more and more Jamaicans into the sport. There is a reason to run, for just as the church offers salvation to the faithful, the finish line offers opportunity, stability, and the possibility of a more comfortable and secure future. But it's not guaranteed. The shelf life of a sprinter is short, success and failure measured by split seconds. Speed fades, and for many, when it does, so does their chance for a better life.

***

In the days leading up to the start of the World Championships, the local media in Jamaica has decided that Bolt has to win, and win in dominant fashion, to take the spotlight away from the doping accusations. Anything less will be failure.

The men's 100-meter trials begin on Day One and in the first race, Jamaica's Kemar Bailey-Cole leads the field with a time of 10.02. In Heat Two, Nesta Carter, the second Jamaican on the track, wins with a time of 10.17. It's not until Heat Seven, the last of the day, that Bolt arrives. He's light and animated, but his pre-race antics are subdued.

Those who have watched Bolt perform over the years know that his races, which themselves usually end in a matter of seconds, are a spectacle that stretches far beyond that. He often mugs for the camera in the starting blocks, even antagonizes his opponents with his showmanship, drawing energy from the crowd, and vice versa.

Today, however, things are different. Bolt is serious, perhaps saving his energy for a later performance. He gives a quick salute to the crowd and then waits in lane three. All eight men lower their bodies into the starting blocks and wait for the gun to fire - except for the sprinter to Bolt's immediate right, Kemar Hyman of the Cayman Islands. He lurches forward pre-emptively. Beside him, Bolt jumps up and takes a few strides before realizing it's a false start. He's made that mistake before. Hyman's race is over.

When Bolt settles back into the blocks, the pressure feels more palpable, yet he seems even less affected. The gun fires, and the men blast from the blocks in unison. Bolt, running with his body almost perfectly vertical and with the effortlessness of someone on a neighborhood jog, overtakes everyone by the 60-meter mark. He cruises to a first-place finish, crossing the finish line in 10.07 seconds.

Afterwards he tells reporters that he was "really looking forward for this time to come" and that the false start didn't affect him, that he had learned from that mistake two years before. Back home, in Jamaica, the island celebrates, and for a brief moment, the air feels a little lighter.

***

The University of Technology, in downtown Kingston, offer more than 100 programs in a variety of fields, but refers to itself as the home of world-class athletes. Some of the finest sprinters in the country have studied at UTECH, or, at the very least, trained at its facilities. From the road leading to the main entrance, one can see two Burger King logos stamped prominently on either side of the passageway. Beside that, there is a large billboard calling for an end to human trafficking.

The Department of Sport is on the back corner of the campus and on this day the auditorium's heavy steel doors are propped open with rocks in the 110-degree heat. Inside, summer students sit at wooden desks inside, taking their final exam. On the second floor of the building, Dennis Johnson, the school's first director of sport, is in a staff meeting. His picture is framed above the doorway, his smile wide and knowing. The sports program at UTECH was once only a vision of his and over the last four decades, he has seen it through. At age 74, he shows few signs of slowing down.

In 1961, a feature about San Jose State College track and field coach Bud Winter appeared in Sports Illustrated. Winter was a revolutionary in the sport, and is regarded by many as the greatest sprinting coach of all time. Over a 39-year coaching career at San Jose State, he produced 102 All-Americans, 27 who went on to become Olympians. He was a soft-spoken man, but persuasive, and his students responded to his often inventive approach. When he was not searching for a way to improve the physical mechanics of his sprinters, he was working on their mental preparation, either scientifically, or according to the wisdom that comes with age, experience and a desire for innovation.

One of the students studying under Winter at the time was Johnson, who the magazine proclaimed, "may soon break the world record." They weren't far off. Officially, Johnson equalled the world record of 9.3 seconds, set by Mel Patton, on three separate occasions, but the record should have been his alone.  At the time, though, differences were registered in tenths of a second, not the hundredths used today.

Johnson was a schoolboy sprinting sensation in Jamaica and was widely recruited by the best American collegiate programs, but he went to San Jose because of Winter and his approach to coaching. He connected with the coach and became his protégé. Winter emphasized the importance of relaxation, both physical and mental, as a key to sprinting success, and Johnson, who made two Olympic teams, adopted Winter's philosophy.

Johnson’s program at UTECH inspired pride within the Jamaican sprinting community and gave it new direction and sense of purpose.

Johnson's decision to attend San Jose State was, in effect, and unknowingly, one of the earliest and most important moments in shaping Jamaica into a world sprinting power. After his college career Johnson returned to the island and began laying the foundation for what would eventually become the sports program at UTECH. Before, Jamaicans had to leave the island to receive world-class instruction, and their raw talent was sometimes wasted, the opportunity coming too late.  Now they could stay, and Johnson's program at UTECH inspired pride within the Jamaican sprinting community and gave it new direction and sense of purpose.

The school operates as a mini-farm system, feeding athletes into running programs in the United States. The students spend their first two years of the four-year program training and competing on the island and then, if all goes according to plan, their final two years on scholarship in the U.S., competing at an American school.

Bolt has come through his doors, and so have Powell, and Shelly-Ann Fraser and Campbell Brown. The school has helped countless others who, while never reaching the upper echelon of the sport, still won scholarships to attend college in the U.S.

Three cardboard signs are taped to the back wall in the office of Lawrence Garriques, Johnson's much younger colleague and friend, a lecturer in the Caribbean School of Sport Science. The signs read dream, believe, and create in rainbow-colored text. Johnson reclines in a leather-backed chair directly beneath them as Garriques works at his computer.

9576246915_a6fc5c11fd_k_mediumDennis Johnson, right, and Lawrence Garriques; photo by Sam Riches

Johnson is upset. There are the recent drug accusations that have harmed the reputation of his program and of his sprinters, and there are fewer colleges seeking Jamaican talent. "The United States are killing off their programs," he sighs, pushing his weight further back into the chair. "People are staying here now. They have nowhere else to go."

This may not be an entirely bad thing. After all, UTECH has produced 11 Olympic medalists. In 2008, at the Beijing Summer Olympics, UTECH athletes made up nearly a quarter of Jamaica's team. But for the athletes that are not elite, whose skills won't carry them to the world stage, the opportunity to gain a U.S. scholarship is vital. "I don't know why the demand is slowing," he says. "Maybe they want to focus on other sports. I don't know."

He staunchly defends the recently accused sprinters, saying that it seems it's more of an attack of the program, of Jamaica, than anything else. That others are jealous of their success.

He says there is only one athlete who he knows took hard drugs, Steve Mullings, who trained in the same U.S.-based camp as Tyson Gay, the American sprinter who also tested positive for a banned substance leading up to the World Championships. In fact, most of the notable Jamaican sprinters who have recently tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs have trained in the United States.

Mullings's mandated blood tests revealed Furosemide, a masking agent. He was tested while at home, after running in the Jamaican national trials. Three months later, the Jamaican Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel banned him for life. The vote was unanimous.

"The history of drug use in Jamaica is very little" Johnson says. "And most of those who were caught weren't the good ones.

"I'm a little hurt right now because of the drug scandal, because it looks like we aren't really working. But what we've done here at UTECH is not a secret, we've been at it for a quite a long time, but, like anything else, the rain must fall.

"It's been blown up in the media because we're at the top, the rest of the world thinks it's presumptuous of this college to produce more top sprinters than any other country in the world, including the United States." Johnson adds that all the testing that was done on the recently accused sprinters, the tests that resulted in their suspensions, was done at home, in Jamaica.

"We have nothing to hide."

Johnson knows about scandal, and its costs. His cousin is Ben Johnson, who, for a short time, was the fastest man in the world. But in aftermath of his 1988 Olympic gold medal performance, he tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. He later admitted to having used steroids the year before and was also stripped of his World Championship medal. When the news broke back home that he had tested positive for steroids, Dennis said the reaction was strong and adverse.

"We're proud to get a small area like Jamaica to conquer the world."

"He was disgraced," he says, lifting his glass to his mouth. "He was totally disgraced." He chews on an ice cube, his jaw clenched, and stares through the window, looking out at the outdoor track on the other side of the building. The field's markings are burnt into the ground, the grass grows in patches between dark soil. Two students playfully wrestle each other in between sprints.

"We're proud to get a small area like Jamaica to conquer the world," he continues. "Even to do that for one day would be an accomplishment. A Texas ranch is bigger than this whole damn place."

9458225739_59b089728f_k_mediumThe outdoor training track at UTECH; photo by Sam Riches

***

Running, by its very nature, is symbolic of freedom and in Jamaica that connection is evident everywhere.  When the island achieved independence from Britain in 1962, they installed the country's first-ever year-round running track. In 2002, in the heart of New Kingston, Emancipation Park first opened, seven acres of open lawns and trees, framed by a running track. Bolt, who now lives in the city, has said it is one of his favorite places to run, not only because of what it represents but also because of his connection to Kingston, where at 15 years old he won one of his most important gold medals.

He was competing at Champs, the first organized athletic event in the country, with roots dating back to 1904. Held each year in Kingston the week before Easter, the four-day meet brings together the best young track talent in the country, with high school students competing in the name of their schools.

Many of the country's finest sprinters have been discovered at Champs, including Bolt. More than 30,000 people pack the National Stadium for the meet, where young athletes not only receive their first taste of world-class competition, but the nerves and expectations that come with it.

For many young athletes, Champs is an opportunity to attract the attention of scouts and coaches on the island. They learn how to relax under pressure, a skill that becomes invaluable the further you progress in track and field.

"We've always taught relaxation exercises," Johnson says, while highlighting the importance of the meet in developing young sprinters. He shakes his head back and forth vigorously, a movement that loosens the muscles in the face, and one that he teaches his students. His cheeks bounce as he moves, his tongue extended. "People used to think we were idiots."

"I would think so too," Garriques chimes in, looking away from his computer long enough to see Johnson bobbing his head up and down and from side to side.

Johnson begins to laugh, a booming laugh that raises his mouth into a smile, his white mustache curling up at the sides. "Anything you can do to relax is good. The thing is - our philosophy - it's a blend of knowledge, of science, of learning and reading, and then common sense. But commons sense is not so common."

Like young athletes everywhere, Jamaica's next generation of sprinters look up to the likes of Bolt and Blake, the island's celebrated sons. But they do not always see everything they should.

Cush Lewis, executive director of Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a Jamaican charitable organization, works with troubled youth in Jamaica and wants more from Bolt and the other stars. Every day, he sees the pressures and the obstacles and the temptations that come with wanting something more - how bad luck or bad choices, or some combination of them both, can change the course of a life, or even make it disappear.

"Our sprinters are celebrities, but I would caution using the term 'role models'."


"Our sprinters are celebrities, but I would caution using the term ‘role models'," he says. "Role models speak to not just showing people there's a lot of avenues to make money, but also speak to morals and values.

With the magnitude of their celebrity and the high-profile stage on which they perform, he thinks athletes like Bolt can help influence a shift in the direction of the country. He believes that, when properly utilized, sprinting and athletics can be a vehicle for change.

"Our athletes, particularly those on the international scene, they should live by a certain standard to bring out a positive behavior change in our children. Male athletes should exemplify what we believe a man should be, which is responsible and honest. Our male population is falling way behind in terms of values and morals in relation to our females.

"From my vantage point, I don't see much changing in how sport positively impacts our youth culture, primarily because there has yet to be a significant movement demanding more of our athletes. It's my opinion that those who have great power also have great responsibility, especially in developing nation like Jamaica, where we have serious issues and a very decisive political situation." His voice grows louder and stronger as he speaks, driven by the weight of working every day with Jamaican adolescents who may not ever run 100-meters in world record time and have far fewer options in their lives.

"When you have a national hero, someone that people can come behind and unite, that hero should be moving, not just themselves, but the country, in a way that will lift up everybody."

***

At the end of the second day in Moscow, just before 10 p.m., the sprinters are on the track for the 100-meter final. Bolt has had two years to think about his disqualification in South Korea, and in the last few weeks has come to understand that it is up to him to erase the doping scandal, to make amends for Jamaica through victory.

As the sprinters loosen up beyond the starting blocks, rain falls through the stadium's open roof and thunder rolls overhead. Tonight, Bolt seems more himself. He mugs for the camera and mimes holding an umbrella. He stands in lane five, and to his left, his main competitor, American Justin Gatlin, waits in lane four. In June, Gatlin beat Bolt in the men's Diamond League final in Rome with a time of 9.94 seconds - nearly four tenths of a second slower than Bolt's current world record time of 9.58, set in 2009 - a loss that Bolt attributed to his own lack of preparation.

Two months later, his attitude on the track here in Moscow is noticeably lighter. Even in the rain, he seems confident. He drops his body into the starting block, marks the sign of the cross with his right hand, and then points to the sky.

When the gun goes off, Bolt and Gatlin begin to run in stride. Afterwards, the clock will reveal that their reaction time at the start was equal: 0.163 seconds. They battle, bodies bounding forward, muscles relaxed, their bodies and faces rippling with each stride. In the last 30 meters, Bolt begins to pull away from Gatlin and the rest of the field. He crosses the finish line in 9.77 seconds, the fastest time he's posted in months. He celebrates with an extra lap around the track while camera bulbs explode in the stands and, fittingly, lightning bolts flash in the sky. Across the stadium's PA system, Bob Marley assures the world that "every little thing is going to be all right."

Later, Bolt tells reporters, "I was made to inspire people and to run, and I was given a gift and that's what I do."

***

Back home in Trelawny and across the country, locals fill the pubs and the streets, watching television screens and playing radio broadcasts that boom down the streets.  In Sherwood Content, Bolt's hometown in Trelawny, residents tell the local press that there was never any doubt. The village has known him since he was a child and knew he could not lose.

The day before Bolt's reclamation of the world title was Emancipation Day in Jamaica, a day to commemorate the island's freedom, the end of slavery, and the start of a new nation. At the stroke of midnight, drums rang out across the island, celebrants lit fires for all-night vigils, and bells pealed into the morning. With Bolt's victory, the celebration continued into another day.

beyond that realm of success there is still a developing nation whose future is troubled and uncertain.

Bolt's success is everywhere, sprinting is everywhere, but beyond that realm of success there is still a developing nation whose future, like most all developing nations, is troubled and uncertain. Bolt, for all his abilities and transcendental talents, cannot lift the economy out of debt or put an end to the island's violence. All he can do now, for a fleeing moment, is push the problems into the background. Sprinting will continue, as it always has, but the immediate future requires something more - a cause to unite behind, a force that brings the island together, something that can provide hope and stability for more than the time it take to run 100 meters.

Speaking at UTECH a few days earlier, Garriques said, "We are investing in the future and part of that vision is that we continue to grow what is already here. That vision includes development of our coaches." Then nodding in the direction of Johnson, he added, "When the guru goes, we need to find another guru."

In Kingston, on the side of one of the tallest buildings in the downtown district, there's another sprawling picture of Bolt. Like the billboard in Trelawny, his arms are outstretched, the muscles of his back and shoulders are clearly defined, tracing over the building's wall. The text above Bolt's frame is even bigger, but it says something different. Tourists stop and point at the larger-than-life image, some taking photos, while locals walk by, unbothered and unaffected, seemingly accustomed to the sight.

In large block letters, the billboard reads, millions of dreams need strong shoulders.

Producer: Chris Mottram | Editor: Glenn Stout | Copy Editor: Kevin Fixler | Title Photo: Getty Images

About the Author

387226_928201716040_872333568_n

Sam Riches is a writer based in Toronto, Ontario. You can find him at The Classical, SLAM, Salon, Hazlitt and The Billfold. He's also reported for the Canadian Press and appeared on CBC North Radio One. He tweets at @Sam_Riches.

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