a unique perspective on this crazy world

a local hero

I realize I am way behind the curve 🙂  I didn’t even know who Usain Bolt was until about 10 days ago!  And, dude, I hope you are as impressive as you appear!  As many of you know by now, I am sure, he has broken Olympic records (winning both the 100m and 200m in the Olympics twice in a row) and is officially the fastest man in the world.

But that isn’t what interests me.  It was the background piece CTV did on him that ran before he ran in an Olympic heat.   The dude is gorgeous and charismatic and easy to crush on.  But I am not a shallow crush kind of girl.  So what impressed me was his ties to his community, the role his parents played in his tiny town in Jamaica and how it appeared they had brought him up right, such that “giving back to the community” was the honourable way to lead one’s life.

If television is to be believed, he made sure his parish in Jamaica benefited from his very first contract with Puma, he has helped bring his elementary school into the new century and he has funded the medical clinic that dealt with his early sports injuries.

He is someone who uses his fame for good, someone who uses corporate sponsorship as a form of developing country aid and someone who has not forgotten where he came from or how he might be able to make his birthplace better.

Usain, don’t disappoint me 🙂  Like millions of other people I have been noting the time you are running in my time zone and seen you win live!  Bookmarking the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.  And today, all three of you are on the podium!  Take that, Team USA J  Or crazy China.  Apparently the Jamaicans are nuts about running and if you can survive that stadium the Olympics are nothing.  I just think it’s really cool that a small country with not so many resources can capture the imagination of the entire world – and apparently not even lose its soul.  Usain, Yohan, Warren – you are awesome!

I am a big fan of “local heroes”.   I stumbled into a movie theatre in 1983 by accident to see “A Local Hero” by Bill Forsyth.  It is still one of my favourite films.  When I went to Scotland for the first time in 1989 I made a pilgrimage to the tiny town clinging to the North Sea where it was shot.  I wandered into the North Sea out of season and just stared out at the barren landscape, beautiful in a stark, middle of nowhere kind of way.

Like Usain, I grew up somewhere small and obscure.  So I identified with the film.  I felt at home in a tiny village buttressing the North Sea.  I know a local hero when I see one.

My father never had a contract with Puma.  I am pretty sure he could have done Pepsodent commercials – but he was too shy.  He would have never mugged for the camera like Usain.  Or had his own website.  But when he died, I really understood what a local hero he was to so many of his neighbours.  He wasn’t internationally famous.  But within the community in which he grew up, he was a hero to many.  For his compassion, for his charm, for his strong principles.  I think it’s much like Usain’s parents are in their community.  And they were the ones who made him both a local hero – and an international one.  Let’s hope he inspires lots more mini-me’s all over the world who support their own communities and inspire future generations.  I think that’s the fantasy that we all hope the Olympics will encourage…

Once in a while fantasy and reality collide.  You just gotta have faith 🙂

And support your local heroes.  Like the Canadian women’s soccer team – the first team Olympic medal for Canada since 1936.  The girls really did us all proud.  And Christine Sinclair a local hero of my adopted home town.  The Olympics don’t get much better than that.  I would have given her the gold myself… but two historic games not something to sniff at…

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