The real Usain Bolt statue stands up

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 17, 2017

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The Government has laid to rest the social media propaganda surrounding what is supposed to be a statue of Usain Bolt that bears no resemblance to the athlete, by unveiling a maquette of the real deal.

Olivia Grange, the minister of sports, held a press conference yesterday at the Spanish Court Hotel to address the matter that is causing public discomfort for the artwork which is expected to cost approximately US$100,000 and which will be erected at the National Stadium.

“There is a little controversy going on now, where there is a statue that is being shown on social media and, in order to make sure that you know the fake from the real, this morning we are bringing you upfront and close into the whole evolution of how it is done,” said Grange.

“There is no way that Basil Watson, who produced the statue of Herb McKenley, can produce the image that is circulating on social media and causing public concern. That is simply fake news,” Grange pointed out.

The Government will spend approximately US$400,000 to erect bronze statues standing nearly eight feet high of Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell Brown and Asafa Powell over the next two years.

Bolt's statue will be ready by August to coincide with his retirement at the London World Championships and Jamaica's 55th anniversary of Independence.

Young Christopher Scott of Old Harbour Primary School, who won the 100m and 200m sprint double at the primary championships recently, was on hand and was selected to be a part of the unveiling of the miniature statue along with Minister Grange, sculptor Basil Watson, JAAA boss Dr Warren Blake, Racers Track Club Vice-president Dennis Gordon and Sports Development Foundation Director Ian Forbes.

The statue of Bolt that will be erected at the National Stadium will stand on Olympic rings with his shoes off, symbolising a man of the earth and exemplifying his character, with his famous 'Lightning Bolt to the World' pose.

“The commissioning of the statues is part of the process of memoralising and celebrating the historical, social, symbolic and aesthetic value of Jamaica's athletics achievement,” Grange added.

“Importantly as well, this is about adding economic value to Jamaica's sports tourism. None of this would be possible without the cooperation and assistance of the Sports Development Foundation,” the minister noted.

Meanwhile, renowned sculptor Watson, who has done over 30 public sculptures in Jamaica, the United States, Guatemala and even as far away as China, refused to comment on the false image making the rounds on social media.

“I wouldn't comment on the images; I never concerned myself with it. I think it's more a reflection on the journalist who put those images up and that's his problem. He should answer for that,” Watson told the Jamaica Observer.

“I knew what I did and I know I had met my benchmark. So I didn't really give it much consideration other than it brought attention to the project, which I felt confident could be turned into a positive because I know what I did,” said Watson.

Watson sculpted statues of George Headley at Sabina Park; Merlene Ottey and Herb McKenley at the National Stadium; Circle of Knowledge at the Northern Caribbean University; Fountain Head at the University of Technology (UTech); Heaven and Earth at the University of the West Indies (UWI); Earth to Heaven in China, Cradle in Atlanta, Doctor's Cave Beach's Balance and Mohammed Ali in Arkansas.

“Thus far I have been successful at it. I haven't had any complaints, strictly positive vibes,” Watson noted.

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