KINGSTON, Jamaica – Olympic champion Usain Bolt is one of the most influential people in the world, according to TIME magazine.
The Jamaican has been named among world leaders, activists, artists and athletes, scientists, moguls and U.S. presidential hopefuls, in the list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2016.
Writing about Bolt, who was placed in the icon category, fellow Jamaican Ziggy Marley – son of late reggae legend Bob Marley – described the sprinter as a “light” and “a unifying force”.
“Usain Bolt is a light. There are a lot of things in Jamaica – and the world – that cause separation: politics, inequality, crime. But an entire generation can look up to Usain,” the Grammy Award-winning reggae artist wrote.
Marley went on to say that he sees many similarities between Bolt and his late father.
“They both grew up in very modest circumstances and went on to make positive change on the world stage. Usain makes music on the track; he runs with great joy, with passion and with soul. He has that smile, that Jamaican flair. It’s a swagger and confidence that we all really enjoy.
“A lot of people who get to that superstar level pretend to be somebody else. I think that’s the thing I like most about Usain. He’s real. He’s not putting on a facade.”
Bolt is preparing for what may be his last Olympics, in Rio this summer.
In explaining how it chose the influential 100, TIME noted that there are “all sorts of yardsticks for measuring influence”, but each person on the list in one way or the other embodies a breakthrough: “They broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we’re capable of. They are seekers, with a fearless willingness to be surprised by what they find.”
“The people on the list, each in their own way, have lessons to teach. We can debate those lessons; we don’t have to endorse them or agree with them. But the influence of this year’s TIME 100, to my mind, is that down to the last person, they have the power to make us think. And they are using it,” the magazine added.