Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has commended star sprinter Asafa Powell for heralding the modern era of Jamaica’s sprint dominance by the male athletes, when he first broke the 100-metre world record in June 2005.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the unveiling of the life-size statue of the Olympian, at Statue Park, National Stadium, in Kingston, on Sunday (February 9).
“Today we celebrate an extraordinary Jamaican, one who over the years has been able to lift our spirits, strengthen our resolve and add lustre to brand Jamaica globally. One who, like our reggae music, seems to have taken on elements of endurance, excitement and global recognition,” Holness said.
“Asafa Powell stands tall among our elite athletes. Powered by the drive to compete, Asafa has been a trailblazer and an avid sportsman, determined to write his name in the historical records of global athletics. Today, we elevate him into the pantheon of our greatest athletes,” he added.
The statue, created by Basil Watson, depicts Powell exploding from the blocks. It is the final part of the Ministry of Sport’s Jamaica Legacy 55 project, which paid tribute to Jamaica’s outstanding athletes. Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown were previously honoured with statues at Independence Park.
Holness also lauded Powell for his historical feat in being the only sprinter in history to have dipped below 10 seconds for the 100 metres 97 times.
“It was Asafa who first crossed a line in the sand that was hitherto unheard off and uncharted here in Jamaica, when in June 2004 at the National Junior Track and Field Championships, held at the G.C. Foster College in his hometown and my hometown, Spanish Town, he recorded his first sub 10 seconds, clocking 9.99 seconds,” Mr. Holness said, noting that he lowered the mark to 9.91 seconds two weeks later when he won the 100-metre race at the National Trials and started gaining prominence globally.
“As of September 2016, Asafa has broken the 10 seconds barrier more than any other athlete, an unbelievable total of 97 times. Today, Asafa Powell has been dubbed globally as the Sub 10 King of world athletics, a marvelous and unparalleled achievement for a great athlete,” the Prime Minister added.
Before unveiling the statue Holness encouraged Jamaicans to use Mr. Powell’s statue as a reminder “of the sacrifice, commitment, and patriotism that are the mantra of those who give their talents and abilities in the announcement of our country’s brand”