Dear Usain Bolt,
I write this to you at the end of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games which after the starting problems went off smoothly and finished faster than one of your sprints. I am not sure if you were faking an injury or you were genuinely injured; am not even sure if you, as a Jamaican, found participating in the Commonwealth Games below your dignity; am not even sure if the Games organizing committee did not accede to your demands of being given appearance money, presuming you asked for some; am not even sure if all the early problems in the run-up to the Games kept you out.
What I am sure is that you were the loser in not coming to the Indian capital and participating in the Commonwealth Games. In fact I am quite thankful that you didn’t come for you would have hogged the limelight, perhaps run a fast race and a relay and walked away with the best athlete award. Most Indians, who continue to remain your fans, were also tired of headlines like ‘Bolt from the lightning’, ‘Another Thunder Bolt’, ‘Usain Bolts to another 100m record’ etc etc.
Dear Usain, you have no idea what you have missed out on. You may participate in many world events and Olympics, but you will never know how your fellow-Jamaicans enjoyed in New Delhi.
Had you participated in New Delhi dear Usain, you would surely have won your events hands down. A few Indian officials would have fought among themselves to hang the gold medal your neck. You have also missed out on the beautifully weaved ‘angavastra’ which was given to all medalists. It was a very Indian way of saying thanks to all those on the podium.
Since you were not so interested in the Games, let me inform that India finished second, just ahead of England and behind Australia in the medals tally for the first time. Given the competition, it was a fantastic achievement.
Dear Usain, you were unfortunate to not shake hands and congratulate Indian shooter Gagan Narang who comes from Hyderabad in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He won four gold medals as the Indian shooters hit the high spot with 30 medals. You could have taken Gagan’s autograph and kept it to show your grandchildren.
I insist that meet your country’s triple jumper Trecia Smith who was a shocking choice for the best athlete of the games. That she won the trophy ahead of swimmer Emily Seebohm (8 medals), Alicia Coutts (5) and Narang seems fishy. But do chat with Smith and ask her how she felt in receiving the trophy at the filled-to-the-brim, well-illuminated, raucous-to-the-point-of-breaking-all-decibel levels Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Dear Usain, everyone is still talking about the awesome opening ceremony and the well-organised closing ceremony too. Ah! Yes. The Games Village, which was in shambles until a couple of days before the start of the Games, was apparently a wonderful place to stay according to most athletes. Even the most cynical English and Australian journalists were singing hosannas about the successful conduct of the Games.
Dear Usain, you will never get to know what you missed in New Delhi. For, when it hosts the Olympics and a couple of World athletic championships sometime in the future, you would have been well past your coaching age too.
PS: I was the mascot of the games
Note: This letter was sent to the Imphal Free Press and published on 2010-10-16 – http://www.ifp.co.in/shownews.php?newsid=12859