Usain Bolt: Running Man


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Usain Bolt: Running Man

Andy Akinwolere travels across Jamaica to find out what makes its athletes run so fast. There are many theories to explain the phenomenon, some scientific and some less so.


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# Lightning Bolt... #

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Usain Bolt.

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Prince of the track. Watch out!

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He is ready to attack.

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When the gun shoots in the air...

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..Usain has no fear.

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England, Canada, USA, beware!

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# ..Oh, Lightning It's time to shine

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# Lightning Bolt strikes twice in record time... #

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Usain Bolt streaking away from the field.

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It's going to be gold for Jamaica! That is superb!

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It's a new world record!

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He has blown them all away!

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That was phenomenal!

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There is no doubt about it. Usain Bolt is unique.

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I mean, he is ridiculously unique.

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This country is a phenomenon in itself.

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I mean, it's got a population of just under three million people,

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and it has amassed 13 gold medals in the Olympics.

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It's fair to say this place is a sprinting powerhouse.

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But what is it that makes Jamaicans so fast? I'm here to find out.

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Come get me.

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'It's a story that involves some hard training...'

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Everyone here is just focused, man.

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Look at them. Focused.

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'..a look back into history...'

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Jamaica will rule for a long time to come!

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I like this, I like this!

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Not that you're biased!

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'..and some very special vegetables.'

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Get some of the good Jamaican yam.

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That will make him run faster.

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We love winning, so we work hard because we are a very proud race,

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so we're just confident in what we do, always.

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World record!

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He has blown them all away!

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That was phenomenal.

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Grand stand tickets here. Grand stand. Grand stand.

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KLAXON

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I've arrived just as the biggest event of the Jamaican sporting calendar is kicking off.

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It's called Champs, and it's the most immense school sports day imaginable.

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Now, I don't know what your school sports day was like, but mine was pretty average.

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But here in Jamaica, they take school sports to another level.

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Champs lasts for four days, and is televised across the whole of Jamaica.

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More than 200 schools send their best sports stars to compete.

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Previous champions have gone on to win Olympic gold and break world records.

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And it's where Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, was first spotted.

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Now, the final quarter...

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But Bolt isn't the only one.

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For years, Jamaicans have dominated the world of sprinting.

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But what makes them so good? Well, there are several theories.

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We're at William Knibb Memorial High School.

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This is where the man himself, Usain Bolt, went to school.

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And in here are a group of athletes who are trying their best to be just like him, if not better.

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WHISTLE

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Go!

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I arrive as the group are putting in some last minute training for this year's Champs.

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I can't believe this is where Usain Bolt used to train.

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It's not...so much an athletics track, but just dust.

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In terms of William Knibb as a school,

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the confidence and discipline they're instilling in these children is absolutely phenomenal.

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What I can't wait to see is who the next Usain Bolt's going to be.

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They're trying to improve on things.

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Bolt is funding the building of a new canteen,

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and also providing kit for the athletes.

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It's a gesture that hasn't gone unnoticed.

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How does someone like Usain Bolt inspire you to be a better runner?

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Well, a lot, he has inspired me a lot,

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to see how his hard work has paid off for him in life.

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To see that he is doing work for the school and for everyone, you know?

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-Would you like one day to be in the same position?

-Yes, I'd like to be in his position one day.

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To do work for my school and my family and my community.

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And my country.

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Achieving more is what the sports programmes here are designed to do.

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Get these kids performing sport at the highest level,

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but also give them an option, something to aspire to

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in a country where the average salary is a mere 400 a month,

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where poverty forces many into a life of crime.

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Lorna Thorpe is head of PE at William Knibb.

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WHISTLE

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She taught Bolt when he was at school here and pupils today

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still see her as an inspiration.

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How do you feel when I say to you that a lot of them credit their success to you?

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I've spoken to a few of them now and they say,

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"Without her, we couldn't have got to where we got to."

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How does that make you feel as a person?

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Well, very good,

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but it's part of my job.

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I have to just work for them.

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That's what I get paid for, to work with them.

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You're so modest.

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You guys are making such a massive difference here, because what would they be doing otherwise?

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-They'd be out of the street or doing something they shouldn't be doing.

-Exactly.

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You say it's a job, but it's more than that from what I see here.

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-It's a passion.

-It really is.

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It's a passion. You ask Usain, he'll tell you that. It's just a passion.

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I have to be there for them.

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-Set...

-WHISTLE

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Each parish has a different type of yam.

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Yams grow all over Jamaica,

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'and many think they might have magical speed-giving properties.'

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There's no specific evidence to prove this, but studies here

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are investigating a possible link between the yam and muscle growth.

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What is pretty clear, though, is that if you want a bit of a boost,

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a yam is a good food to give you that quick burst of energy.

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I've been trying to figure out what makes Jamaicans so fast,

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and people are telling me that these yams are essential.

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I eat yams and after I've eaten yams, I'm not going to lie to you, I feel a bit sleepy.

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I don't know if it gives you energy. Why are they special?

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Maybe you've had too much, but these yams are a complex carbohydrate.

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In other words, they are made up of special nutrients

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that release slowly in the bloodstream and give the players

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and the athletes energy

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over a longer time.

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Compare that to a simple biscuit,

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which just has flour and sugar and sweetening.

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This is a complex carbohydrate, whereas a biscuit is a simple carbohydrate. It won't work as well.

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The thing is, if you look at where he grew up,

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it's not hard to see how Bolt would have burnt off those carbs.

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You can kind of see why someone like Usain Bolt

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has got such great muscle definition, because if you're

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having to do this at least once or even twice a week,

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you'll be hench, you'll be built.

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Thus Jamaicans as well, actually, if you think about it, in the grand

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scheme of things, they're becoming fit without even thinking about it.

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Bolt grew up here in Trelawney in the north of the island.

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Like so many young Jamaicans, he would walk to school,

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run errands for his family and play football, just like any regular kid.

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But if you do it in Trelawney, you do it uphill and down.

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If there's one man who should know a thing or two about the environment

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Bolt grew up in, it's Usain's dad, Wellsley.

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Your son is extraordinary.

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What he's done for athletics in this country is fantastic.

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Why do you think in the last two or three years, Jamaica have dominated sprinting?

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Look at Asafa Powell

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and other athletes. What are you guys doing, man?

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What are you feeding these people?

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Really, in Jamaica we don't eat a lot

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of fertiliser food.

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A lot of spray goes on food

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in other countries.

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It don't happen here.

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We eat a lot of yams, normal food that we grow,

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yams, banana and all those things.

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-It's all organic food.

-Organic.

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And a lot of these are from the hilly terrain.

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You know, my son used to walk miles to school.

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So you're already getting fit before you even know it?

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Before you know it.

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So, therefore, I think that is what causes them to run so fast,

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the athletes. This year, they have some great sprinters coming up.

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'I called by Bolt's primary school to learn a bit more about his life growing up.

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'Apparently as a young boy, he loved playing football.'

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Shoot, shoot!

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'Many of these children at his old school don't wear shoes to run or play.'

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Look at the skills, look at the skills!

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'There's a thought that this might allow the foot muscles to develop more strength.

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'But more than that, sport is a vehicle for many people all over Jamaica to seek a brighter future.'

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Since I've been here, kids are just outside and active all the time.

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I think football's very similar to athletics

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in the sense that for a lot of kids, it's a way to leave poverty.

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And most of these children here see

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themselves as the next Didier Drogba, the next Cristiano Ronaldo.

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And I think athletics does just that.

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And having someone like Usain Bolt being from around here is a definite inspiration for a lot of them.

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-Ready?

-Yeah.

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They may not have the most amazing facilities, but that doesn't seem to matter.

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Kids this age need someone to look up to,

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someone who's fought their way out of whatever conditions they grew up in and made it to the big time.

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Have you met Usain Bolt before, any of you guys?

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-Yes, sir.

-Really? What's he like?

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Tall.

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'To say Usain Bolt is something of a role model at his old school

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'is probably the understatement of the year'.

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-Can I run?

-Can you run fast?

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Well... I can run, but not fast.

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-I'll race you.

-You want to race me?

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OK, I'll give you a deal.

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If you teach me this Usain Bolt dance, if you guys teach me all together, I'll race you.

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So leg this way, yeah?

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Like that? Yeah? Like that?

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OK, so we do the left one.

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And with this one as well?

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And then this one again?

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And then that one again.

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Windin' and grindin'...

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You're cheating, man! Oi!

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You're cheating! You can't do that!

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Trelawney is picture postcard Caribbean.

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Its beaches welcome visitors from around the world.

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But it wasn't so long ago that its shores were attracting a more sinister trade.

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Here at Falmouth Bay, many, many years ago,

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on a clear day you could see up to

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30 ships bringing slaves in from Africa to work on the plantations.

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That's very hard to believe considering these lovely views,

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but it's an integral part of Jamaica's history.

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# I remember on the slave ship

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# How they brutalise our very souls... #

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These days, the darker moments of Jamaican history are a good draw for the tourist industry.

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Walking around this place,

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you get an incredible sense of the wealth this island

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delivered to the British Empire, but also the human cost.

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At the end of the 18th century, this whole area

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was littered with plantations making this stuff - sugar.

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Jamaica was the largest producer of sugar at that time.

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Plantation life was cruel.

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Slaves as young as five were forced to do backbreaking work from dawn till dusk.

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Families were split up, and slaves were beaten if they didn't work hard enough.

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# Every time I hear the crack of a whip

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# My blood runs cold... #

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It's little wonder that many tried to escape, running for their lives.

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If they were caught, they would be punished by being whipped or

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having their toes cut, so they didn't run away again.

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But many did manage to escape to freedom.

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Jamaica had more runaways than anywhere else in the world.

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And some say that it's this determination and toughness

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of the African slaves that lives on in Jamaican sprinters today.

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# Slave driver The table is turned... #

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No, no, no, you don't peel it like that.

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-How do you peel it?

-Let me show you.

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You hold it like this, and take your time and peel it.

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'So it could be the African heritage, the hill-running,

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'and the yams like these that help Jamaicans run so fast.

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'But surely there must be something more scientific to it than that.

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'Well, there could be one clue to that sizzling away just next door.'

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Look at the chicken!

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This is your special recipe?

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'Jamaica is known all over the world for its jerk chicken.

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'The meat is marinated in a variety of secret ingredients, including one

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'of the hottest spices going, the scotch bonnet pepper.'

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And put it on top.

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'It's then cooked over a wood fire.'

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Jerk away.

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Seeing all this chicken meat

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reminds me that I've still got more work to do to find

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a reason why Jamaican muscles power them to such speeds.

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I've heard that a large number of Jamaicans have something called the fast-twitch muscle,

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something that gives them a greater explosive ability to get off the blocks fast.

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Professor Errol Morrison is a scientist at Kingston's University of Technology.

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His research points to a rich gene pool in Jamaica that is producing fast runners.

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In the Jamaican group that we have studied so far,

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the genes are pretty homogenous.

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By that, I mean it's pretty similar.

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As opposed to when you look at the runners form the United States,

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those very elite runners, the best runners, their genetic make-up is slightly different.

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It's special and different from the rest of the community from which they spring. So those are special groups.

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But in Jamaica, it's all pretty much the same.

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So there are many more potential Usain Bolts, Asafa Powells, Shelly-Ann Frasers out there.

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Many, many, many. So Jamaica will rule for a long time to come.

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-I like this! Not that you're biased!

-Not biased at all!

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Just having good genes doesn't mean you'll break a world record.

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Professor Morrison has also looked into the technique of Jamaican sprinters.

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So, do I have what it takes?

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-What do you think?

-You saw that symmetry, you know.

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That ease. It doesn't come that easily for many others, you know.

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But there's a natural fluidity of style, as we would say, the way in which you had that symmetry.

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And you have the knee-lift without making any effort.

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You could see that, you know.

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I think those are some of the makings, the early makings, of a sprinter.

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So it seems I've got the physique of a sprinter.

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But I've also heard about something called the speed gene.

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So I've come here to the University of the West Indies to find out.

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-Have you tested some Olympians?

-Yes.

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-Do they all possess the speed gene?

-They all possess the speed gene.

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-Wow.

-The gene, food...

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'Professor Rachael Irving works at the same university where Usain Bolt trains.'

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-Can you test me for the speed gene?

-Well, I need you to test yourself.

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'She's discovered that the fast-twitch muscle

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'can be produced by high levels of something called the strong 57RR variant of the alpha actinin.'

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Kind of like brushing your teeth.

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'Luckily, it's also called the speed gene,

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'and there's a simple test to see if I've got it.

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'It's present in about 75% of the population'. Oh, here we go.

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"Andy's saliva sample."

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'Now, obviously these people don't go on to be Olympic champions,

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'so Professor Irving has another test up her sleeve.'

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I'll also test you for a neurotransmitter.

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What's a neurotransmitter?

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Serotonin, to find out if you're strong enough to win a gold medal,

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if you're somebody like Usain Bolt.

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Now, what would those serotonin levels actually mean?

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It determines mental toughness.

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If your level is low, you tend to be a quitter.

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-If your level is high, then you have a special gene and you tend to be very...

-Determined?

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Dominant, aggressive, determined.

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You're able to win under almost any condition.

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You close out everything else.

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-Interesting. So that could possibly...

-That gives you the edge.

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..be what gives Olympic champions the edge over everyone else.

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Everyone else.

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# Lightning Bolt... #

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'A lot of what I've heard here rings true.

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'There's a little bit of all these theories in many Jamaicans, especially Usain Bolt.

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'It's time to put all this to the man himself.'

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Nice to meet you.

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I'm Ryan. Got the microphone.

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Thanks for meeting us.

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This is an absolute pleasure.

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I've been in Jamaica for a few days now, and there is some raw energy here, man.

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People here are lively.

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And I also see that when you guys are on the track, you especially, and other athletes. Now, what is it?

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Some people call it arrogance. Is it arrogance or confidence?

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No, it's confidence.

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We're confident people.

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We love winning, so we work hard because we're a very proud race, so,

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for me, we're just confident in what we do, always.

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# Any way a man can run, Bolt

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# Any way a man can run, Bolt

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# Any way a man can run Any way a man can run, Bolt! #

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I went back to your old school and your primary school,

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and a lot of the children were completely inspired by you.

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They want to emulate you.

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Some of them don't just want to be like you, they want to be you.

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I mean, what is that in Jamaicans?

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-You guys aim high.

-Yeah, definitely.

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I've seen it from a young age, a lot of kids are always telling me they're going to be like me.

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Even five-year-old kids see me and say "I'm going to beat you one day."

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It's all fun, because they really want to be a champion and

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that's a good thing for us because you drive hard and you aim high.

0:22:000:22:03

So, it's always good.

0:22:030:22:05

# Any way a guy can run Any way a guy can run, beware! #

0:22:050:22:10

I met Miss Thorpe, who was your old secondary school teacher.

0:22:100:22:13

How much of an influence in your life has she been on where you are now?

0:22:130:22:17

For me, she's like a second mum.

0:22:170:22:19

..so therefore they looked somewhere else to see if they could get

0:22:190:22:23

the amount of people that they needed to work in the sugar industry.

0:22:230:22:27

While I was in high school, she looked out for me,

0:22:270:22:31

anything I wanted, she made sure I was in class.

0:22:310:22:35

She was always on me in school to make sure everything was OK, always focused on me.

0:22:350:22:41

So she played a very big part for me.

0:22:410:22:43

OK, final question. As a nation, why are you guys so fast?

0:22:430:22:47

Well, as I say, we are a proud race and we want to be the best in whatever we do. You saw Champs.

0:22:470:22:53

They work so hard to be the best at Champs. It means so much to them.

0:22:530:22:58

When I was growing up, to win a Champs gold medal was like winning a World Championship gold medal.

0:22:580:23:03

So many talent comes up.

0:23:090:23:11

We just keep getting more talent because we work so hard to be the best.

0:23:110:23:15

I guess the scary thing for me now is that it's not just you,

0:23:150:23:19

there's plenty more out there that are going to take over the world, you know?

0:23:190:23:23

There's going to be a lot of talent coming up.

0:23:230:23:26

I've been telling all of them, "Yeah, you're going to be good,"

0:23:260:23:30

but I keep trying to get in their mind by saying "You're not going to get me." So I play on their minds.

0:23:300:23:35

Watch out! One day, you never know.

0:23:350:23:37

-Respect, Usain. Thank you very much.

-No problem.

0:23:370:23:40

Back at William Knibb, we're up at the crack of dawn and loading up for the four-day trip to Kingston.

0:23:470:23:53

Having spent time with the great man himself, it's all the more poignant to see today's generation

0:23:530:23:58

of track-and-field hopefuls from his old school getting ready for their big moment in the spotlight.

0:23:580:24:04

You have a great heritage in terms of track-and-field.

0:24:040:24:09

Not just of the school itself, but for the entire parish.

0:24:090:24:15

So you have some amount of weight on your shoulders.

0:24:150:24:18

You can't just go to Kingston to participate.

0:24:180:24:23

You have to go to Kingston to compete,

0:24:230:24:28

and to compete fiercely.

0:24:280:24:32

All right, guys. Have a good time.

0:24:380:24:41

Don't be scared. Do well.

0:24:410:24:44

Coming to Champs is all about the sport, of course, but it's also much more than that.

0:24:530:24:59

It's a glimpse into another life away from home,

0:24:590:25:02

a chance to prove they can achieve something.

0:25:020:25:04

Do you think, then, that Champs is training you guys for the next level?

0:25:080:25:12

Yeah. Absolutely. And exposing us to the world.

0:25:120:25:17

Because when you're out there in the final, the world is watching you, as what you said.

0:25:170:25:21

So yeah, they're inspiring us a lot.

0:25:210:25:24

Interesting.

0:25:240:25:26

Now, do you guys one day see yourselves in the Olympics?

0:25:260:25:29

Well, that's my dream.

0:25:290:25:32

Final. Not only in the Olympics.

0:25:320:25:34

-At the gold standard.

-Really?

0:25:340:25:36

The Diamond Leagues and all that kind of stuff?

0:25:360:25:40

-Standing there with Jamaica!

-Jamaica, you know what I mean?

0:25:400:25:43

# Bolt, Bolt

0:25:430:25:46

# Lightning strike twice in-a the same place

0:25:460:25:49

# You outside Then you miss the race

0:25:490:25:51

# No your fault as it happen so fast

0:25:510:25:53

# Unless you're interested in who come last... #

0:25:530:25:55

The dream of competing at the Olympics is nurtured at schools in Jamaica, and it lasts a lifetime.

0:25:550:26:02

Just look at these kids' faces.

0:26:050:26:07

You can see they are serious about making it,

0:26:070:26:10

that tonight is the start of something big.

0:26:100:26:12

And for Jamaicans, it doesn't really get bigger than success on the track.

0:26:120:26:19

# Hold nothing back It's time to shine

0:26:220:26:26

# Lightning Bolt strike twice in record time

0:26:260:26:29

# Hold nothing back It's time to shine

0:26:310:26:34

# Don't give up Just cross the finish line

0:26:340:26:38

# Just shine... #

0:26:380:26:41

What one man achieved in 9.58 seconds has the real potential to change these kids' lives.

0:26:410:26:48

He's made it, and his story, how he got to where he is today,

0:26:480:26:53

is in many ways the story for all Jamaicans.

0:26:530:26:56

# Hold nothing back

0:26:570:26:59

# It's time to shine... #

0:26:590:27:00

And it's pretty sure to be inspiring generations of champs to come.

0:27:000:27:06

They've got something here.

0:27:060:27:07

It's Jamaican, man.

0:27:070:27:10

# ..Don't give up Just cross the finish line

0:27:100:27:13

# Just shine... #

0:27:130:27:15

You know, we came to Jamaica to find out what it is that makes these guys run so fast.

0:27:190:27:24

Well, it's a whole heap of things, from the speed gene to food

0:27:240:27:28

to the fact that they're the descendants of former slaves.

0:27:280:27:32

If I'm honest, I think it's a mixture of all those things.

0:27:320:27:35

But if Champs is anything to go by,

0:27:350:27:38

they have a lot more waiting in stock.

0:27:380:27:40

All I can say is, the world better watch out.

0:27:400:27:43

Hello, Dr Irving?

0:27:460:27:47

Hi, it's Andy. Yeah, I'm good.

0:27:470:27:52

Basically, I want to know whether you've got the conclusion to your speed gene experiment?

0:27:520:27:56

I have got the speed gene?!

0:27:580:28:01

All right, cool.

0:28:010:28:02

That's good to know, thank you.

0:28:020:28:04

All right, bye bye.

0:28:040:28:06

I've got the speed gene!

0:28:060:28:07

I kind of already knew that.

0:28:070:28:09

Cos I'm just fast.

0:28:090:28:11

Jamaicans are proud of him Now he wears a marvellous crown

0:28:110:28:16

Usain Bolt, prince of the track Never, never look back.

0:28:160:28:21

# Any way a man can run, Bolt

0:28:210:28:24

# Any way a man can run, Bolt

0:28:240:28:26

# Any way a man can run Any way a man can run, Bolt! #

0:28:260:28:30

# Bolt's so fast and Bolt's so fit, him na pull a string

0:28:300:28:33

# Cos he's physically fit

0:28:330:28:34

# Every race him running come first... #

0:28:340:28:37

# Any way a man can run, Bolt

0:28:370:28:40

# Any way a man can run, Bolt

0:28:400:28:42

# Any way a man can run Any way a man can run, Bolt! #

0:28:420:28:46

# Everybody rate him as the world best

0:28:460:28:48

# Lightning Bolt, him na defeatist Lightning deserve me respect for. #

0:28:480:28:52

# Any way a man can run, Bolt

0:28:520:28:54

# Any way a man can run Any way a man can run

0:28:540:28:57

# Victory to the world! #

0:28:570:28:59

Yeah, man!

0:28:590:29:01

How much do they like Usain Bolt here?

0:29:010:29:04

He is such an inspiration to these kids.

0:29:040:29:06

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:060:29:08

E-mail [email protected]

0:29:080:29:11

For World Olympic Dreams, Andy Akinwolere travels across Jamaica to find out what makes its athletes run so fast. He visits Bolt's former school, tests himself for the "speed gene" and buys some very special vegetables.

Bolt is the latest - and fastest - in a long line of sprinters from Jamaica who have left the opposition in their wake over the last few years. There are many theories to explain the phenomenon - some scientific and some less so. In this programme, Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere takes a jog across the island to put those theories to the test.