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Usain Bolt's last race in Jamaica: 30,000 people party at national stadium

Usian Bolt will run his final international race at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in August

Emma Lewis | Global Voices 

Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade, second right, passes the baton to Usain Bolt in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay final
Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade, second right, passes the baton to Usain Bolt in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay final

It was a Saturday night that many Jamaicans will remember for a long time. Jamaica's superstar athlete, Usain Bolt, ran his last race in Jamaica on June 10, 2017, provoking screams of excitement, vuvuzela blasts and a party atmosphere among 30,000 supporters at Kingston's national stadium.

The occasion was the JN Racers Grand Prix, which featured a host of other Olympic athletes — including Bolt's former training partner Yohan Blake — who was in good form and declared he was there to fill the vacuum left by Bolt – who is retiring, and will run his final international race at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in London in August.

The sprint legend received red carpet treatment and a guard of honour. Government officials, diplomats and celebrities flocked to the stadium, and social media was awash with tributes, selfies and videos of the race, in which got off to a slightly nervous start but soon caught up. It was a treat for athletics fans:

Video camera in hand, British track and gold medallist Mo Farah, himself a fan, was keen to record the athlete's sprint, much to Jamaicans’ amusement:

The main event, which won quite easily, was the 100 meter sprint. Fans enthused:

Some were overcome with nostalgia:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Sports Minister Olivia Grange made the most of the wave of euphoria surrounding the event, having hosted International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe for the occasion:

Coe heaped praises on — whom he referred to as the GOAT (the Greatest Of All Time) — local journalist Abka Fitz-Henley reported:

Sports writer Andre Lowe noted Bolt's contribution to the “business” of sport:

His ascension has brought and will continue to push more talented Jamaican youth to the sport. In Jamaica, where not enough is taken seriously enough, athletics is now seen as big business – Bolt's brilliance has led a boom where the local industry is concerned. We are still far behind as it relates to , but again, has been a major contributor to the thrust – or trickle – of the tourism product.

Commentator Brian-Paul Walsh reflected that Usain Bolt's career was a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy local landscape:

While sentimentally observing the culmination of a spectacular career, it would be remiss to not contextualise those spectacular performances with the other national records we would rather not highlight, such as the galloping crime rate and the plummeting dollar.

As social and economic conditions deteriorated, Bolt's development accelerated, thrusting him and this nation into global news for sprinting at a time when we were also gaining notoriety for scamming. On a night when hearts were aflutter in anticipation of one final 100-metre inside the National Stadium, there were many households in mourning over tragic losses to their families from that week's murder madness. While dignitaries gathered inside the royal box to snap shots with the greatest of all time, their minions made mischief in communities just beyond the bright lights.

In the midst of excruciating circumstances and with very little around us to provide hope, we are fortunate to have lived in this time and to have one of us brilliantly defy the odds and rise into the fullness of himself.

Bolt's old school in rural Trelawny proudly paid tribute:

Amidst all the euphoria at the event, one world record was broken in the 200 meters by South African Wayde van Niekerk. The stellar lineup of athletes reflected the growing stature of Jamaican track, which has been largely responsible for, and the event was widely covered by media:

A local professional photographer took this stunning shot:

And the Gleaner's Ricardo Makyn captured this gem:

Not everyone was impressed by local media coverage of the event, however. University lecturer Damien King thought some were “cashing in”:

confided that his close friend, fellow Jamaican Germaine Mason, who died in a motorcycle accident in Kingston in April 2017, was weighing on his mind — but as the races ended, it was time to relax and celebrate, with displaying his well-known love of dancing:

Although most of the lights had been turned off, continued to party:

Fireworks closed the show:

One media personality commented:

So what's next for the legendary Usain? He has not said much about his plans, although he will appear as a footballer in a video game:

Bolt's final professional will take place at the IAAF World Championships in London this August, but his example will continue to inspire Jamaicans from all walks of life. Broadcast journalist Cliff Hughes shared:

Later that evening, the man himself tweeted, simply: