Thomas Meyers, a cab driver on his fourth trip to Hampden Park from the city centre in a span of 90 minutes, perhaps explained how his city, Glasgow, felt about one person when he said this. “He’s a bloody knob aye! Who does he think he is, saying stuff about the weather and my city. But the bloke can roon, can’t he?”
The bloke in question was of course two-time Olympic gold medallist and the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt. The Jamaican did not have the most favorable of welcomes in Glasgow. He ruffled more feathers than he could have imagined when he was questioned about his views on Scotland’s weather. Bolt is alleged to have looked up to the sky and reportedly said, “Yeah it’s all pretty ‘s**t.”
But by 9:15 pm on Saturday night, everything was forgiven. He was suddenly Scotland’s darling and everyone wanted a piece of him. Bolt obliged too, handing out high-fives, fist bumps, a few dance moves and a thousand watt smile which refused to fade away.
On the track, it had been business as usual. On Friday, he had left the field trailing in his wake as he finished Jamaica’s 4x100m relay heat almost a full second behind him. Saturday, the margin was halved but the result was just as devastating. Jamaica had won the race at the half-way mark itself, opening up a tremendous lead. Bolt then simply breezed through.
Jamaica’s quartet posted a time of 37.58 seconds, a new Commonwealth Record, as the announcer gamely hollered out, but Glasgow did not seem to care for records, they only had eyes for the man from Sherwood Content, and the 27-year old was more than happy to drink in the adulation.
Before the relay, Bolt had hardly been a picture of focus. He jived as Hampden sang its celebratory anthem and then rolled out his pose. He continued waving and dancing even as the other finishers took their marks. Hampden didn’t seem to care about the other runners, Delhi 2010 had been a damp squib with none of the top 10 sprinters in the Commonwealth turning up, but Glasgow 2014 had got Bolt, the reigning superstar of cool.
Once the running was over, the charm offensive was unleashed full tilt. The Jamaican tricolor draped around his shoulders, Bolt completed a lap around Scotland’s biggest stadium. Volunteers tasked with getting him and his team ready for the medal ceremony were simply dismissed with a wave of his hand, as Bolt won over thousands crammed into the stands.
A selfie here, an autograph there, countless hands pumped and a few words to a lucky few. Someone threw Bolt a ‘See You Jimmy’ hat, a piece of headgear native to Scotland. He wore it of course, drawing another huge roar as the camera captured Bolt happily bounding along with the tartan cap on his head.