When Pretending To Know Usain Bolt Goes Horribly Wrong

‘Bolt is to track what Ali is to boxing, Jordan is to basketball and Obama is to politics.’ #Excellence #Trailblazer #Magnetic #GreatestOfAllTime – Anika Emmanuel

By Stephane Kempinaire -, CC BY 3.0,
By Stephane Kempinaire –, CC BY 3.0,


Last year, I wrote a blog entitled: ‘Why I Pretend To Know Usain Bolt’. In it, I described my experiences in Japan and told you how pretending to know the legend has made my life much easier. Revisit blog here.

Last month, when he once again slayed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, silenced his critics and solidified his legend status in the history books, I wrote the following stat on my Facebook page:


Now, this was done in jest!


Melisa Clarke-Thompson and all 541 people on my ‘friends’ list know this. They should! It’s a carefully vetted, carefully selected, list of unique individuals who are there solely based on the fact that ‘mi spirit tek them’ as well as their ability to be seriously fool-fool.

So, of course, I didn’t expect anyone to believe me. ‘Cause as said, all 541 people on my ‘friends’ list know Usain Bolt is NOT my cousin! At least, that’s what I thought.


Meet the lovely Rosa.


Rosa is an awesome Filipina lady I have the pleasure of working with from time to time.

After vetting her, I realized she had the capacity to be as nonsensical as I am so I didn’t hesitate to add her to the list. Not once did I think that the lovely Rosa would buy into my lie (which was intended as a joke) till we were both sent on the same assignment last week.


Place:   Prestigious All Girl’s Private School

Location:   Komagome, Tokyo


Duration:  Three Days


Day one went according to plan. We met the girls, carried out assigned tasks, and went home. On day two, once again, we followed procedure. All was going well. Then, half an hour before my day came to an end — MAYHEM!

I was doing a presentation about my country as is norm when you meet new students in a Japanese school setting. Ironically, I was in the middle of talking about Usain when I looked up and realized the corridor was filled with kids. They were ALL pushing and shoving in an attempt to peer at me through the screen door.

Let me repeat re-type that. Meek, mild, ‘I can’t speak any louder than this’ Japanese School Girls from a private Catholic School were shouting, pushing and shoving.

I’d never seen anything like it in my 16 months in Japan. Not in an earthquake drill. Not in a fire drill. Never.

Something was very wrong.

Then through the crowd, I saw Rosa’s head. She was pointing at the board where Usain Bolt’s name was written under the heading ‘Track and Field’.

“See! See!” She was as excited as the kids. “I told you!”

I stopped my class. Mouthed to Rosa, “Told them what?”


She mouthed back, “That you are Usain Bolt’s cousin.”


This is how being caught in a lie (that was intended as a joke) feels—

Like waking up in your own vomit after a severe hangover. Like seeing your boss at the movies on the same day that you called in sick. Like having a doctor reveal you’re pregnant when you’ve successfully convinced your mother you’re still a virgin.

Like a marriage built on structure, pattern and routine. Like Justin Gatlin after being beaten time and time again by Usain Bolt — horrible — just horrible!!!


The kids in my class started staring at me. They too were now speaking loudly in Japanese. The only word I could recognize was ‘Bolto’.

Then, as if in slow motion, my kids stood and started moving towards me. The kids on the outside pushed the doors open. Some started snapping pictures. Some started hugging me. Some were crying as they touched me. I’d never been in such panic mode in my entire life.

“Rosa! He’s not my cousin. Tell them he’s not my cousin. Rosa. Rosaaaaaaa!!!”

Rosa had disappeared. I was left in a room with crying, screaming, girls who were begging:

“Pullleesse, pulleese, pulleese sign book.”

“Pullleesse, pulleese, pulleese sign paper.”


What was I to do? I signed autographs till my hands were numb.


When the bell chimed for dismissal, I ran to the teacher’s room, grabbed my bag and ran through the streets of Tokyo like a mad woman.


Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. Thoughts of seeing the students the next day kept me awake. Finally, I reached out to Rosa (who by now was apologizing profusely) and asked her to tell her students I was not Usain’s cousin.

Then, I sent an email asking a teacher who spoke fluent Japanese to make the announcement to the other students.


I arrived at school on my third and final day nervous, but determined to stop the lie (that was intended as a joke). Thankfully, when the explanation was given, they took it better than I thought.

Some still wanted me to sign their notebooks because I was from Jamaica, some still wanted to talk to me about ‘Bolto’ and some still presented me with gifts.


Till next time — wait—

To the Management Team: Please note that no monetary gifts were accepted (I swear all I got were chocolates and some salty, biscuity thingy). Also note that I will never sign on behalf of Usain again. Please understand that it was dire circumstances that caused me to do this and there is no need to sue or take legal action. I have learned my lesson. I will no longer pretend that I am related to the legend ‘cause a nuh er’ry bodi can handle the stress of stardom with his grace and finesse.


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