Usain Bolt’s journey from country boy to Olympic gold medal hero and global sports icon has its roots in the rugged and isolated Jamaican village of Sherwood Content.
Reaching the tiny hamlet entails a jarring but delightful journey. Beginning in Kingston, visitors head north along a newly-built toll road, through a stretch of green hills and rainforests and eventually along a winding, narrow pot-holed road.
Ocean vistas and glistening streams, ideal for rafting or just cooling off, hug the side of the roads. To his proud countrymen, Bolt is a product of his environment, his accomplishments forged in the lifestyle of this rugged mountain region.
There is no mistaking the hand-painted, white stone slab sign advertising the dusty backwater village that produced Bolt. It nestles in the Trelawny hill region on the north side of the island, 110 kilometres northwest of Kingston.
“I taught him at the early stage for two years. He was energetic and big for his age,” said teacher Sheron Seivwright, who remembers Bolt from the first day he started school at age two at Piedmont Basic School.
“We had races on the field and he would cry when the others would beat him,” Seivwright told AFP.
There are no streets signs and the confectionary store across the main road from the post office has been without running water for three weeks. Goats and cows wander freely amongst the village’s wood and brick homes.
The village’s inhabitants all plan to gather on Saturday to watch their hometown hero run his final race on Jamaican soil when Bolt headlines a track and field meet put on in his honour at the National Stadium in Kingston.