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RIO 2016 - Usain Bolt meets children from unprivileged community
Ter, 02 de Agosto de 2016 20:09

Usain Bolt e crianças no Rio: lembrando dos tempos de aluno...

(Rio de Janeiro, BR Press) - “They say these children are from the most dangerous communities (‘favelas’, how slums are called in Brazilian Portuguesa) here in Rio. They are our future and I'm very happy I got to meet them”. These are the second public words that went out from the quickest man in the world mouth: Usain Bolt.

Instead of talking to the media (journalists are desperate to have few whisperings from him), the Jamaican star rather decided to meet people a bit more like him (or, at least, closer to his past and the Jamaican reality): a group of children from underprivileged communities surrounding the Jamaican track and field team's training base.  Suddenly, Bolt and all are doing the same classic lightning bolt gesture for a picture.

School boy’s time

Brazilian boys and girls – mostly black – reminded Bolt’s own school times at the Jamaican small village of Sherwood Content, where he attended Waldensia Primary School. Each year, the green grass fields between the school and a main road is transformed into an improvised speedway. “Jamaicans are good in sprinter because we’ve been practising it for ages”, says Bolt, highlighting The Champs – the traditional students championship taking place in Kingston for more than 100 years.  It’s quite like Brazilians with football – raised playing. 

At the school’s entrance is read: “Welcome to the home of the world’s fastest man”.  To a main Brazilian magazine, Bolt’s first running coach, Sharon Seivwright, told that he used to cry when defeated by another boy: a close friend and ater football player, Ricardo Geddes. “Bolt was very competitive”, she says. And still is. Bolt’s “yes I can” approach may take him to the triple championship in three running modalities. He would be the first athlete in Earth to conquer it.

Zika? No way

Arriving in Brazil last Wednesday (July 27th), Bolt was asked by reporters at Rio de Janeiro’s International Airport Tom Jobim if he was fearing zika virus (Chinese gymnasts are currently sleeping with mosquitos protection nets over their beds inside the Olympic Village flats). Bolt, with his characteristic baritono voice and peculiar sense of humor, replied: “I fear not! There are plenty of zika in Jamaica…” 

Brazilian children were invited to meet the reigning 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion on Tuesday (2nd August) morning. They were delighted. By the end of the afternoon there were more then 1.500 shares on Bolt’s Facebook page, where he posted the picture you see with this story. 

“I'm in this picture and I want thank you for given a little time to meet us, thank thank thank, you are my inspiration, I wish to you good luck in your championship and I gonna be rooting for you! I love you”, wrote Guilherme Rodrigues in a not so good but emotional English. He was one of the boys among more then 30 children Bolt met. There were loads of similar messages on Bolt’s Facebook page.

More pics

Later, Bolt posted another picture of him with some Brazilian Navy’s smiling officers and wrote: “Salute to the Brazilian Navy”. It is reported that the champion also took selfies with employees of the centre which Jamaican Olympic Committee has closed exclusively for delegation training (no journos, fans or strangers are allowed). This is definitely an unusual way to prepare to defend his three Olympic titles. But Usain Bolt’s informality matches a lot with Rio’s way of living: easy going and fearless. 

The favela where children came from is located close to the Navy Physical Education Centre in Penha neighbourhood – one of the most dangerous of Rio. But Bolt, whose Jamaica is not strange to huge shantytowns like the famous Trench Town, in Kingston,  had only eyes for beauty, hope and sympathy.

Bolt and the rest of the Jamaican team are staying in an understated hotel near the training centre and are expected to move into the Olympic Village on Wednesday (3rd August), two days before the opening ceremony at the Maracanã. Bolt's bid to retain the three titles he won at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games will begin on 13 August with the 100m heats.

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