KINGSTON, Jamaica: This country’s streets were a sea of patriotic black, green and gold on Monday as the nation cheered both a half-century of independence and its success at the Olympic Games in London, England.
The August 6 Independence party began two days early when Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100-metre dash in a time of 10.75 secs. Veronica Campbell-Brown ran 10.81 secs. to win the bronze medal.
The celebrations continued on Sunday when Usain Bolt defended his 100-metre dash title in 9.63 secs., a new Olympic record. Bolt’s training partner and countryman, Yohan Blake, won the silver medal by running 9.75 secs.
Jamaicans are confident their run of success at the Games will continue.
“Apart from celebrating our 50th anniversary as a sovereign nation, we now have lots more to celebrate,” said Michael Williams, a taxi driver from the rural community of Duanvale in Trelawny.
“The celebrations will continue for a while longer because we expect more medals from our athletes at the Games and when they come we will take them as our birthday present.”
While 80,000 fans cheered the runners in the Olympic Stadium, Jamaica was lauded on its 50th birthday.
“Over the years we have come to know Jamaica as a leader in the Caribbean,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “Jamaica is an indispensable partner…and is a leading political voice in the region.”
In her Independence Day message, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller declared: “As a nation we have much to celebrate. Across the country our patriotism is seen in the vibrant Jamaican colours everywhere.”
The independence celebrations concluded late Monday with civic ceremonies in 14 parishes and a Grand Gala in Kingston.