Team Jamaica has one Love
Saturday night’s glittering display of athletics brought more love for the city of Birmingham, with further endorsements from Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake after their record breaking performance in the 4 x 100m relay event. Double gold-medallist Mo Farah also gave his own shout out for the city, by saying how much he is looking forward to competing in Birmingham later this month at the Aviva Birmingham GrandPrix Athletics.
Speaking after the race, Bolt said:
I'd like to say all the big up to Birmingham, the university. That’s where's we trained, they really supported us. We got everything possible. We got indoor facilities, the gym works and everything so for me it’s an honour. Thank you guys for everything you have done for me really. Thank you.
Their very public acknowledgement has taken on a life of its own in the city since Bolt, Blake and Warren Weir first gave thanks to the city that played host to Team Jamaica in the lead up to London 2012 on Thursday night. Echoing their kind words, it has emerged as a campaign to #bigupbirmingham with people across the city sporting specially commissioned #bigupbirmingham t-shirts. The city’s signature dish has also been renamed the Bolt-i by one of the world-famous Balti Triangle’s longest standing restaurants.
Commenting on his new creation, head chef at Imran’s Restaurant, said:
It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to host the Jamaican team and the city has been buzzing today following their fantastic performance and generosity in ‘bigging up’ Birmingham so publicly after last night’s 200 metre race. “We wanted to honour their achievements with this dish. Essentially, it’s a Balti with a distinctively Jamaican twist – jerk chicken, rice and peas form the basis of this hot and spicy dish. We would love to welcome the team back to Birmingham to try it out sometime!
Staying at The University of Birmingham – which offered bespoke seven-foot beds and mattresses for the tallest athletes, and a specialist chef to cater for Jamaican tastes – Team Jamaica were welcomed by the entire city. Birmingham has the largest Jamaican community outside London. As their visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence, a host of celebrations took place including a five-day 'Jamaica in the Square' cultural extravaganza and an athletes’ farewell concert at the Symphony Hall.
At the heart of the country and one of Europe's most prolific meeting places for business and leisure it's no wonder that Birmingham has been recognised for the warmth of its welcome, as Ian Taylor, Commercial Director at Marketing Birmingham – which operates Visit Birmingham, the city’s leisure tourism programme – explains:
The amazing comments about Birmingham from Bolt, Blake and Weir have already made a huge impact in raising the profile of the city, and are credit to everyone who supported the team during their stay here. Their praise has created headlines and led to Birmingham trending on Twitter, demonstrating that the impact of the Games is having a really positive effect on the rest of the UK beyond London.
We’re working hard to ensure that Birmingham makes the most of the athletes’ remarks. Birmingham already welcomes 32.8 million visitors each year, and this boost to the city’s reputation for sporting excellence and facilities must create a legacy for years to come.
Six of the 100m finalists – and all three medallists – trained in Birmingham ahead of the Games, as the city also hosted the US track and field team’s training camp.
The city’s next major sporting event is the Aviva Birmingham GrandPrix Athletics on 26 August, which will welcome a number of Olympic heroes back to Birmingham.
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