The city of Miramar, Florida, will soon be home to a monument honoring Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the eight-time Olympic champion who dominated track and field sports until he retired from competition after the 2012 Olympics in London.
The statue will cost $250,000, and some taxpayers in Miramar have questioned whether this is appropriate and that the cost is far too high. However, the city’s leaders believe it is worth the price to have a sculpture of the athlete who was known as the “world’s fastest man.” They also believe that a statue of the Jamaican superstar athlete recognizes the diversity of communities in South Florida. Many thousands of Jamaicans have migrated to the area and made their homes there. The city also has a growing number of families with strong ties to the Caribbean island. According to the city, the cost of the statue will be paid in four installments to world-famous Jamaican artist Basil Watson.
Miramar city commissioner Alexandra Davis said the city wanted to include a world-class Olympic athlete as part of its plan for art in public places. The statue of Usain Bolt will be installed at the Ansin Sports Complex, and Davis hopes it will attract more international and world-class sports events to the region. Doreen Lovell, a resident of Miramar, believes that a statue of Bolt shows how minorities can achieve and have better lives, as well as building up the image of Miramar as a diverse city.
Critics of the statue include City Commissioner Winston Barnes, who acknowledged Bolt’s impact as a “phenomenon,” but who also believes that spending a quarter-of-a-million dollars on the statue is a waste of taxpayers’ money. He said that having a statue of Bolt or any other monument or icon will not make Miramar a city that will attract international tourists. He believes the money would be put to better use if applied to the entire community of Miramar’s residents.
The actual appearance of the statue is unknown at present, but Bolt has expressed his support for the recognition through his representatives. Speaking to new media, Bolt said sees himself as a sprinter first, but that he also likes to entertain “because that’s what people come out to see” and “that’s why people love me so much.”
Chris Koval, a Miramar resident who once ran for a position on the City Commission, said the city could have considered a “more encompassing display” that would include a larger number of honorees in a monument to Native American and Black athletes from the United States who were inspirations to Bolt, such as Jim Thorpe, Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, and Florence Griffith Joyner.
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