Fans gather for London 2012 Olympics to see Lightning Bolt strike twice... twice

Jamaican flags outnumber Union Jacks as sprinter becomes first to win Olympic 'double double'

Even in the heaving den of partisan British support that is the Olympic Stadium, the gold, green and black flags last night outnumbered Union Jacks. This was Jamaica's night and the devotees of the two fastest men in the world had come to show it.

Jorell Blake, 34, might have shared his surname with Usain Bolt's training partner and principal rival, Yohan Blake, but like almost everyone packed into the arena for last night's 200m final, he had come to see only one individual.

Adopting the lightning pose that spread across the Olympic Park last night like a Mexican wave, Blake, originally from Kingston and now living in London, said: "Bolt is the man. He's the guy who everyone in the world wants a bit of. I am seriously excited to be here."

Four days after Bolt, 25, who celebrates his birthday in 11 days, stormed to victory in the 100m, there was high anticipation among those lucky enough to be pouring into the stadium last night that the liquid ease of the gold medal winner on the track would produce another extraordinary display.

When he scored his first Olympic double in Beijing in 2008, Bolt took the 200m event in an Olympic record of 19.30 seconds and was widely expected to make a serious attempt on his 2009 world record of 19.19 seconds. It is, after all, what he describes as his favourite event.

Hannah James, 62, wrapped in the telltale flag of die-hard Bolt fans said: "I spare a thought for Yohan, he's good and would beat everyone else apart from his friend. But Usain is in a class of his own right now. He looks like he's not trying that hard when everyone else is pumping hard."

Among those keenly watching last night was someone with close experience of Bolt's talents, having presented him on Monday night with his prize from the 100m.

Alex Donaldson, 22, a Olympic volunteer chosen as a medal bearer, said: "It was incredible to give Bolt his gold medal. He's a brilliant character with loads of charisma. He was so kind and friendly to all the volunteers."

"I feel so honoured to have given him the medal; it was an unrivalled experience to stand in front of a stadium of 80,000 screaming fans and give him the medal."

On the hill overlooking the giant TV screens where day pass holders can watch events unfold circles of tell-tale green and gold had popped up among the Union Jacks. Jeff McCormack, Monica Lallo and Le Van Tay had all flown in from Manchester, a central province of Jamaica just to the south of Bolt's birthplace, to see the action.

"We just wanted to be in London to see it happen," said Mr McCormack. "We had to be here." So why did they think Jamaica is currently so dominant in sprinting?

" It's homegrown talent," said Miss Van Tay, a budding recording artist who divides her time between Jamaica and the States. "Every one of our gold medallists over the past two Olympics have been trained in Jamaica. They didn't go to an American college, they stayed home and focused on their game. What people don;t know about Jamaica is we have the best coaches in the world. We don't have the best equipment or the best money, but we've got the hunger and the drive."

"And we've got the love," added Miss Lallo. "The love of our sport, the love of our people and the love of being champions."

To Stephen and Lorraine Grant, whose parents moved from Jamaica and settled in Bedford, Ussain Bolt is the man who has given Jamaica an international platform.

"He's made athletics more popular, not just for Jamaica, for everyone," said Lorraine, an administrator at the Highways Agency. "Today's our first day in the Olympic park and we've had so many people respecting Jamiaca. People from all different backgrounds and cultures. That means a lot to us. We're really gobsmacked by it. To see the whole world following him and supporting him is a really big thing."

Such was duopoly excercised on the 200m by Bolt and Blake in the minds of spectators that most laughed when asked if anyone beyond them could win last night. As Jeremiah Adams, 78, wearing a gold Jamaica top, put it: "Jamaica is Bolt. Bolt is Jamaica. I'm telling you, if he stood for lifetime president right now, they'd elect him twice."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific