'It used to be USA, but now it's Jamaica's time'


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The Independent Online

Hundreds of London's Jamaican community gathered at the Millennium Dome to watch Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake take gold and silver in the 100m final last night.

They had been waiting for hours for a race that lasted less than 10 seconds. But the cheer that greeted Bolt crossing the line showed how much it meant to a country that is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence.

Sharon Thomas, who lives in London but has a Jamaican background, said the whole country could be proud of its athletes after the Bolt-Blake one-two. As a victory party started to get going, she said: "I am 150 per cent happy and more, this is in our blood. It used to be the USA but now is Jamaica's time."

Jamaica House may not have been quite as hot as Kingston but the people decked out in the country's flag were in party mode long before the race even started.

A reggae band got them warmed up as the Jamaican lager and rum flowed. And people were taking pictures of each other on deck chairs and palm trees imported to the bar as they waited for the big race.

The most taxing question for most was simply: who to cheer for loudest? Bolt or Blake?

The women's 400m final gave some indication of the level of noise that was to come as the crowd got behind both their runners, Novlene Williams-Mills and Rosemarie Whyte, who finished fifth and eight respectively, and British athlete Christine Ohuruogu, who took silver. The roar was deafening as the runners came into the home straight and more was to come.

D'Andre Henry-Cameron, 13, said he wanted to watch the race here because he thought it would be "such a great experience to watch Blake and Bolt with so many Jamaicans".

Keesha Morris (not her real name), 21, said: "It was great watching the race with other Jamaicans, there were more vibes than if you just watched it at home. The atmosphere is better.

"We shouted for Bolt and Blake but I preferred Bolt. He is so popular all over the world because he is the fastest man on earth. It's simple. He has a swagger which makes people like him. He is cool, calm and collected and he know what he is doing when he gets out on to the track.

"We are very proud that we have such good athletes, Jamaica just keeps producing them. I don't know why it is, I think it something in our culture. Jamaica loves sport, we eat well, we have good weather and we have the tradition of producing sports stars."