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Bolt and Blake, Jamaican Athletes in My Town
The excitement here is palpable.
The Jamaican and US Olympic teams are training just a few minutes drive from where I live.
Unfortunately, for the local and international press camped around Birmingham University, it's a case of so near but yet so far as the Jamaican athletes aren't yet open for business.
Becoming media darlings is obviously secondary to training right now.
We've heard that they think Birmingham is cold, which after the tropical heat of Jamaica and our rain soaked summer, is probably an accurate summarisation.
We've heard that they're getting down to business with early morning starts and lots of rest. They've set a date to talk to the media sometime next week, but the pressmen and the public are impatient. We want access to the Jamaican stars of track and field and we want it now.
We've heard that they've flown in their own chef to cook the food they're used to. Didn't anyone tell them that we have chefs of Jamaican origin right here in the city?
We've heard that some of the lesser known athletes left the campus grounds to take a tour of the city but, as Usain wasn't among them, there was no photo opportunity and no walk-about or congenial hand-shaking among the crowds.
We've heard that the Jamaican press corp have flown straight out of the Jamaican capital city of Kingston only to face locked doors and be told to exercise patience before they can speak to their own and we sympathise but, hey, we're all in the same boat.
Academically I know that Usain is a hop, skip and a jump away, but I don't really feel it.
Nightly television documentaries show him training in the Jamaican countryside and review his international races.
Past greats such as American 200 metre runner Michael Johnson analyse and compare his every step, before analysing and comparing the accomplishments of his rivals; yes, the world's fastest man does have some serious competition.
Stick your head above the parapet and someone is going to take a swing at it,
I admit to driving past the grand university entrance slower than I need to, just in case Usain or Yohan or Asafa has decided to escape the confines of academia and pop out to the local area for a take-away meal.
But so far, no luck.
Instead my diligence is rewarded with irate drivers beeping at me to get out of their way.
I guess they've got a point, if the world's media can't get a glimpse then what chance do I have?
Under grads who haven't yet left for the summer have taken to jumping onto high walls with their electronic devices, all hoping to snap a You Tube moment.
They've been caught, stopped and sent on their way.
Across the Water
All of this is in stark contrast to the US athletic team who have opened their training sessions since the day they landed in my city.
They even have an athlete's rota for the daily press call, presumably so we won't get tired of seeing the same faces?
They've invited local school children to watch as they train, to join in with photo shoots and to enthusiastically sing their praises to cameras and reporters.
It's nice to see them, but I don't know who they are.
There are no famous names in evidence as yet.
They smile a lot and look super-trim with gleaming teeth, shiny hair and a great attitude and, they seem at home in our city's most prestigious university.
But, it has to be said, they don't have the mystical allure of the Jamaican team.
Could it be a case of too much exposure too soon?
Would I have found them more appealing if they'd held back just a little bit and made us wait for the great reveal?
In the meantime I try to pick the right day to drive through the grounds so I can accidentally stumble upon the press conference of Usain et al.
I'll casually wave as I attract his attention by blasting out the latest Jamaican tune from my car.
He'll look over in recognition, being the DJ that he is, and smile at me and at Birmingham, showing that he is glad to be here, just as they all are.
A Good Place to Be
We've welcomed both teams with open arms and done our best to ease their transition before we send them a hundred miles south to the greatest sporting event on earth.
London may be their destination but Birmingham received them first and, win or lose, I don't think that they will ever forget that.