The music stops.
Shelly-Ann's mom, a street vendor named Maxine Simpson, who supported three
kids selling underwear, socks and rags, takes up the microphone. She sings,
"God is goooood, God is good to me." One voice from the crowd joins in,
then three, then more with each word. They sing, "How could I let Him down?
How could I let Him down? So good to me...."
singing. "All hands now," she commands, calling for prayer.
"Father, my Father, I come to you with everything. I thank you for
strength, life. Lord, without you, we are nothing. When we have you, we have
A man pulls up on
a bike. "It would make you weep, the things Shelly-Ann went through, but
she's persistent," he says. "A great example. Plenty more kids want to
be like Shelly-Ann."
Now Maxine is
shouting, "Hear me out! I want the future for the kids.... We want them to
grow, to come and support the parents. Pick them up so they can walk again in
love and Christ. Let them live...."
But the crowd has
grown restless. It's breaking up when a sudden stir can be felt rolling our
way, up the middle of Ashoka Road. Heads turn: Fifty feet away, approaching
fast, hundreds of bodies are at once falling back from and pushing in on this
one small face, trying to clear a path while all of Waterhouse leans in to see.
A voice yells, "She coming!"
WHEN BOLT and
Fraser won the 100-meter finals, they altered the way Jamaicans regard
themselves. Jamaica, a sprinting power since its first Olympics, in 1948, had
produced gold medalists such as Arthur Wint and Donald Quarrie, world-record
holders such as Asafa Powell and proud warriors such as Herb McKenley, but
their achievements seemed perfectly scaled for an island of its size. Prime
talents such as Donovan Bailey emigrated and competed for bigger, richer
nations. Merlene Ottey, with eight Olympic medals, none of them gold, best
embodied the Jamaican track persona: always feared, but doomed to place or
Then Bolt struck
and Fraser followed, and if they had merely been the first Jamaicans to win the
Olympic 100, that would have been plenty. But there was also the matter of
style. Fraser romped to the gold in 10.78 seconds, grinning so hard at the
finish, leaping and punching the air with such glee, that it seemed she might
levitate for her victory lap.
Then again, she
had the toughest act in history to follow: The night before, Bolt, gliding in
with arms outstretched for the last 30 meters, crushed the field in a
world-record time of 9.69, then pulled off his shoes, danced two goofy dances
with the Jamaican flag about his neck and pointed his fingers in a pantomime of
lightning. Jamaicans named his victory stance "To the World!"
provoked a public chiding from Jacques Rogge, but forgive the IOC president his
mistake. Steroid busts and a two-decade parade of dour egos would blunt
anyone's ability to recognize ... fun. Like Fraser, Bolt was only giving "a
Jamaican flavor to what happened," says Michael Carr, Fraser's coach at
Wolmer's High School for Girls in Kingston. "Pure passion and joy."