Bolt-mania took over the Cayman Islands this weekend as the world’s fastest man wowed the crowd at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
And Usain Bolt did not disappoint, cruising to victory in the 100m sprint finale in 10.05 seconds to repeat his 2013 triumph at the Cayman Invitational.
It wasn’t close to his fastest time or his smoothest run, but it was enough to give the crowd, many of them waving Jamaican flags, the victory they wanted.
Afterward he paid tribute to the crowd, saying, “They gave me a lot of love and I respect that. I’m happy about that. I really appreciate people coming out and I hope I can get to come back here.”
After the race Bolt performed a lap of honor before stopping to sign a gold relay baton, which he launched into the main grandstand, and straight into the hands of Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.
“It could have hit anybody and it landed right in my lap,” said a stunned Mr. Manderson. “It was an amazing night. For us to have the best 100 meter runner in history here in Cayman is a proud moment for all of us. This was just the icing on the cake.”
The race itself was perhaps a little closer than Bolt would have liked. American Dentarius Locke, racing from lane one, ran close in 10.12, but Bolt powered though from lane four to claim the win.
Bolt’s Jamaican teammate Kemar Bailey-Cole finished third in 10.18 seconds, and Caymanian Kemar Hyman finished sixth in 10.32.
It was Bolt’s first race of the season as he bids to become the first man in history to win three consecutive Olympic 100m golds.
Bolt will run twice more before the Olympic trials and hopes to be consistently breaking the 10-second barrier by that point.
Hyman, Cayman’s own rising sprint star, said he was disappointed with his time but happy to be back in George Town to race in front of a home crowd.
“It was not a great time, but it was an amazing race,” he said. “I love the crowd, I’m very happy. I wish next year and the years to come it can be like this.
“I just love the support from the crowd. I want to be great, and I hope they see that and support me through my career,” he added.
He said it wasn’t intimidating lining up next to the world’s fastest man. “It was just exciting. Just to run against him is a great honor, so I feel really well.”
A host of dignitaries, including Premier Alden McLaughlin and Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton who returned from London the previous evening, were in the crowd to see Bolt run.
In a brief speech during the opening ceremony, Mr. McLaughlin said he and Mr. Panton had the “privilege to represent Cayman on the world stage” during last week’s anti-corruption summit, which he suggested had been a success for Cayman. Now, he said, Bolt’s visit was “bringing the world to Cayman.”
He added, “It is a fantastic way to close what has been a very good week for our small islands. My heart is filled with pride.”
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, whose ministries helped to sponsor the event, organized by Cayman track star Cydonie Mothersill, were also in attendance.