by Howard Campbell
MIRAMAR – Two years ago when Basil Watson was commissioned by the City of Miramar to do a statue of sprint legend Usain Bolt, he readily accepted the assignment. On July 15, his second depiction of the Jamaican wunderkind will be unveiled at Ansin Sports Complex.
Cast in bronze, the $250,000 clay piece sits on a two-tier granite structure. The biggest challenge for Watson was presenting a different work than the eight-foot Bolt statue he did for the Jamaican government.
That figure, also done in bronze, was unveiled at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica in December, 2017.
“There were thoughts about going away from the To The World gesture, but it’s so symbolic and iconic and representative of Usain Bolt. We just found a different way to express that same feeling,” said Watson.
Bolt debuted the pose during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China where his prodigious talent was on full display. He won three gold medals, including the sprint double. After each victory, he leaned backward and pointed to the sky as a salute to the world.
The lanky sprinter repeated those feats at Olympics in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Bolt also won multiple gold medals at the World Championships which are held every two years.
At the 2009 meet in Berlin, Germany he set world records of 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds in the 100m and 200m races, respectively.
The Atlanta-based Watson disclosed that he studied numerous images of Bolt, “for as much a likeness I could get. He’s the greatest of all time, he’s the GOAT, so I had to get it right.”
Born in Kingston, Watson is the son of Barrington Watson, arguably Jamaica’s greatest sculptor. He studied at the Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts) where his father was once principal.
Watson has enjoyed a recent purple patch. In addition to the Bolt statue in Kingston, he was also commissioned to do epic monuments honoring Jamaican folklorist Louise Bennett, the Windrush generation in the United Kingdom and Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In Atlanta.
He and Bolt will be in South Florida for the unveiling of his latest work.