This weekend was an incredible time to be in Jamaica. It was the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence on Monday, and Jamaicans won gold and bronze in the women's 100 metre sprints on Saturday and gold and silver in the men's on Sunday. The whole country is buzzing with feel-good vibrations for all its athletes and bursting with pride for their country.
Here's some footage of the euphoria in front of the big screen televisions in one of the main intersections in Kingston:
I was lucky enough to be able to watch the races with a group of Jamaicans at the Kingston Yacht Club, where I was participating in a sailing regatta all weekend. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Ernesto was passing by south of the island and kicked up some weather. Saturday's sailing was inordinately calm, on Sunday the weather was too wild for sailing and on Monday it was still pretty intense, but everyone wanted so desperately to go out that we tried it for a little while, but it was not the best of conditions. (The bigger boats were racing as well, and one of them clocked wind gusts at 42 knots. To put that in context, we usually cancel racing if it is blowing upwards of 20-25 knots.)
On Sunday, the storm passed by at its closest point. It was during the semi-final heats of the men's 100 metres. The tension and energy in the room was matched by the drama of the weather outside. The wind started blowing intensely - all the shutters were flung wide open and clothing and paper was blown about in the room. Everyone rushed outside to watch the storm and to check that all the boats were safely back in the harbour and firmly attached to the docks. Then it started to rain and everyone rushed back in - maybe the rushing also had to do with the fact that there was another race heat about to start and this one had Blake in it, I couldn't tell. My own eyes were flipping back and forth from the television screen to the view over the harbour. At its height, where you could usually see clearly the buildings of downtown Kingston and the hills behind, was a grey wall of water and wind. The best way for me to describe it is to liken it to the way a Manitoba blizzard can totally obscure your vision 30 feet out. The worst fears of everyone was that the storm would affect the power and we wouldn't be able to watch the race!
Fortunately, these conditions only lasted for about an hour and minimal damage occurred. There were a few more squalls over the next couple of days, but the worst had passed. The euphoria from the Olympic golds and the general celebratory feeling from achieving 50 years of independence seems to remain. I look forward to working alongside Jamaicans to make the next 50 years even better for all Jamaicans!
PS. The sock progress continues and your chances of being the proud owner of this pair are still quite high! Please click to make a donation and help me reach my goal to raise $2000.