Jamaican sprint legend, Usain Bolt has come to the defense of ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ Athletics Championships (Champs) Class One 200m winner Antonio Watson.
Watson has been receiving public backlash for a gesture he made towards the end of the race at the National Stadium on Saturday (May 15).
The Petersfield High School student gestured in the shape of a gun and pretended to fire a shot at Edwin Allen High School’s Bryan Levell as he passed him metres before crossing the finish line.
He has since apologised for his actions.
But amidst the criticism, Bolt has come to his defense. In a post on his Instagram stories, the nine-time gold medalist appealed for the public to stop condemning the young athlete. Instead, he said the incident should be used as a teachable moment.
“Ppl don’t condemn and chastise young Antonio Watson. It is important that we mold such young talent so he can develop to maximize his full potential. Reason with him yes about his action but don’t crucify him. It’s a learning lesson and teachable moment for all,” he said.
He added; “Youths be strong and remember anything is possible don’t think limit.”
Meanwhile in his apology statement, Watson said he had no desire to negatively influence others.
“It is important that we mold such young talent so he can develop to maximize his full potential.”— Usain Bolt
“I have taken full responsibility for such actions as it is in no way a reflection of the ethos of my school, the principles of my coach or the position of ISSA or any of the sponsors,” he said.
“Upon reflection, I recognise that my gestures could have been misleading and I have no desire to negatively influence others. In fact, going forward, I aspire to demonstrate positive behaviours and attitudes that will inspire countless young Jamaicans to strive for excellence and make our country a true beacon of what is good in this world.”