On February 9, 2020, the last of the four commissioned statues was added to Independence Park in Kingston. The sculptor, Basil Watson, made the last statue in the likeness of Asafa Powell, who was once the fastest man in the world. Powell’s statue joins Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, and Usain Bolt which were all created by Watson.
According to the Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the statues are a part of the Jamaica 55 legacy programme, and are meant to represent Jamaica’s athletic success as well as provide inspiration to the public.
The question of whether or not the awarding of statues is becoming a watered-down achievement is easily answered. The answer is no for the simple fact that the four athletes deserve that level of immortalization.
Asafa Powell, the sub 10 king, has had a well-decorated career. He broke the world record for the 100m twice and has won several awards for athletics like IAAF Performance of the Year award. Despite the troubles he ran into later in his career as it pertains to underperformance and injury, he still remains a legend of the sport.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wasn’t dubbed the “Pocket Rocket” for no reason. In addition to being the first Caribbean woman to win the 100m gold medal in the Olympics in 2008, she is the only sprinter to be crowned world champion in the 100 m four times. In addition to her many accolades, she also recently returned to track and field after taking a break to have her son. In 2019, Fraser Pryce won the 100m with a time of 10.71 at the World Championships in Doha making her the oldest woman to win it. She was 32.
Veronica Campbell Brown found her way into the hearts of Jamaicans with her charm and amazing sprints. Campbell-Brown has etched the 2004 Athens Olympics in the memory of track and field fans for a lifetime when she won the gold in the 200m final. She is an eight-time Olympic gold medalist and an eleven- time medalist at the World Championships. She led a long and rewarding career.
The achievements of Usain Bolt have transcended track and field. “Lightning” Bolt is the current holder of the men’s 100m world record and the men’s 200m world record. His spectacular performances and victory dances captured the hearts of Jamaicans and foreigners alike. He has eight gold medals in the Olympics which is a huge achievement by itself but he also has 14 World Championship medals which include 11 gold medals which makes him the most successful.
If the statues are being made of people who have truly made their mark then it wouldn’t and shouldn’t be considered a watered-down achievement no matter how many statues are being made. It’s been reported that there would be more statues in the future and that’s because Minister Grange recognized the immense talent and success that have followed Jamaican athletes throughout history. These statues will stand as a reminder to Jamaicans of today and the future of the sheer greatness that was displayed by the athletes over the years. It’s always better to acknowledge and celebrate people while they’re alive and making statues is a good way to achieve that.