Diplomacy of ’The Lightning Bolt’

Sport is a hugely powerful medium for the international spread of information, reputations and relationships that are the essence of public diplomacy. The size of the audience in sport globally is massive and it gives a nation or a certain athlete a chance to shine an with it a possibility to take a message across. In the modern day states compete to host the Olympic games to bring limelight and send positive vibes to the outer world. But more importantly it is the athletes that put their home countries on the picture and one of the most fascinating of them in the 21st century has been the fastest ever human being-Usain Bolt.


The Jamaican sprinter, nicknamed ’The Lightning Bolt’, has dominated the world in the 100 m and 200 m distances since early 2000’s and owns a world record in both. Bolt won 100 m and 200 m Olympic gold medals in 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing and London in 2012. He has held the Jamaican flag high for years and by being the fastest man ever he has been in the spotlight all along. Jamaica, famous for its reggae music, jerk chicken, sunny beaches and Bob Marley has herself an ambassador in Usain Bolt who carries national pride with himself and also acts as a role model for young Jamaicans.


Bolt winning the race in London Olympics,2012

In 2009 Bolt, who is from the rural neighbourhood in northwest Jamaica, received from then Jamaica’s Prime minister Bruce Golding a diplomatic passport and got appointed as Jamaica’s youngest ambassador-at-large.


Bolt, who is often described as fun-loving and affable is very proud over his native Jamaica. For example all the advertisements that he does, he tries to do them in Jamaica, often against producers’ wish. Big brands such as Gatorade and Puma are made to shoot in Jamaica and give jobs to local people. He also does a lot of charity work, for example he supports the Small Steps Projects,project, that helps children living on landfill sites. He also has his own Usain Bolt Foundation. Its mission is dedicated to the legacy for happy children. Foundations’ main goals are enchancing the health and safety of children but also to improve their education and opportunities to receive one.

Being the fastest man ever,Bolt, is often compared to legends such as Muhammad Ali and Pele. Maybe he has not been politically as influential as Ali and Pele were, but he definitely matches their outgoing personality and being as enthusiastic as he is, he is very appealing to many people. This year he revealed a documentary of himself called ’I am Bolt’ and he also admitted that he will retire after the 2017 World Championships in London. The legacy that he will leave behind will be extraordinary. Arguably one of the most marketable athletes in the world has been an excellent ambassador for the sport and his native Jamaica and also he has done a remarkable job for Jamaica in its nation-branding.





  1. http://www.dogoodjamaica.org/organisations/usain_bolt_foundation
  2. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/i-am-bolt-949117
  3. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/usain-bolt-will-retire-after-2017-world-championships-1586495
  4. http://old.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20091113/lead/lead3.html
  5. http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/usain-bolt-worlds-fastest-man-is-jamaicas-hero-w431272
  6. http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/pdin_monitor_article/sport-public-diplomacy

2 thoughts on “Diplomacy of ’The Lightning Bolt’

  1. stevencurtislm January 25, 2017 / 12:39 am

    This is a good post. You make a good case for the various connections between sport, public diplomacy and nation branding and you have included some nice images to illustrate your points.

    In places the post is rather descriptive. I should have liked you to focus on the themes of most relevance to the module. It would also have been good to make connections to the concepts and ideas in the academic literature.

    Finally, you should include some references in the main body of the post, rather than simply listing them all at the end.


  2. icantbelievethisusernamehasbeentaken February 27, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Very interesting and enjoyable post about a charismatic sport personality of the 21st century. I think you did a great job in summing up his latest achievements and highlighting his great work both as an ambassador to Jamaica and in charities. I just wonder if you could have provided a bit more information about the impact that a charismatic and beloved figure like him has on brand Jamaica.
    Great post.


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