The world’s “greatest athlete” Usain Bolt thanks Birmingham for helping him prepare for a record-breaking performance at the Olympics.
The Jamaican runner became the first man to retain both the 100m and 200m titles, and immediately praised the support he got whilst training in Birmingham.
Bolt never looked in trouble as he ran 19.32 second, beating Jamaican team-mates Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, who picked up silver and bronze medals.
In their interviews after the race, Blake began the praise of Birmingham by saying:
“I just want to say ‘big-up’ Birmingham: in London you guys have been great; Birmingham people, you guys took care of us.
“We have to give you all the respect, Birmingham.”
Bolt, who was walking away from the interview, then returned to add his comments:
“Birmingham people: when we were at camp, they were extremely great to us.
“They showed us a lot of love and thank you guys – you guys helped us to come out here and do our best.”
Bronze medallist Warren Weir then added his thanks in Jamaican patois, ending it with the phrase “No English, straight patois”, which began trending on Twitter.
All three athletes were based at Birmingham University for their pre-Games training camp, with hundreds turning up to watch them in action at an open training session.
There was disappointment among some because Bolt and Blake failed to make an appearance.
However, they were still spotted enjoying themselves in Birmingham, and Bolt often posted pictures on his Twitter account – such as he and his team-mates going to Cineworld in Five Ways to see the film, The Lorax.
Business Will Benefit
Tourism bosses estimate that 11 million people saw the interview with the Jamaican athletes praising Birmingham.
They claim it has already led to an increase in traffic to websites promoting the city as a venue for business and leisure.
Emma Grey, from Visit Birmingham, says it is the result of a lot of hard work:
“They were absolutely amazing about how great the city is, but the city did really welcome them: the University of Birmingham actually created beds that would be comfortable for them.
“So we went to great lengths to welcome them, we had big events, and they also saw how welcoming the people of Birmingham are.”
The beds were bespoke eight-foot long ones created specially for the arrival of the Jamaicans, and the 6’6″ tall Usain Bolt.
Their arrival also coincided with a series of festivals celebrating Jamaica’s 50th year of independence from Britain.
Emma Gray added that it is not just the television coverage that promotes Birmingham, but the stars’ own Twitter feeds:
“[Warren] Weir, for example, had a picture of him with the bull at Bullring, and one of the things we are trying to do is to build on the momentum of this.
“We are already trending really well on social media; we are getting more hits on our websites; we have even had more people coming into our visitor centres.
“We know there are more people who want to find out more about Birmingham and will ultimately, hopefully, want to come here.”