Jamaican track and field legend Usain Bolt has sprinted to the defense of young Antonio Watson, who has been publicly criticized for what has been viewed as an offensive gesture at Champs 2021 inside the National Stadium last week.
Watson, the 16-19 age group 200m winner at the championships, made a gesture in the shape of a gun where also he pretended to fire a shot at his rival as he ran past him before pretending to reload again as he crosses the finishing line.
The viral incident has since been met with criticism from the public, which forced the teenager to apologize for his action.
“I want to unreservedly apologize to all the stakeholders, my school, fans, and family for my actions,” Watson said in a statement.
“Upon reflection, I recognize 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 behaviors 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.”
Bolt Calls For Patience With Youths
Although he couldn’t support the actions of Watson, Bolt, the 11-time world champion and eight-time Olympic gold medalist, believes the incident should be used as a “teachable moment” and called for proper guidance for youths.
“Ppl (people) don’t condemn and chastise young Antonio Watson,” Bolt wrote on his Instagram stories. “It is important that we mold such young talent so he can develop to maximize his full potential.
He added that people should now take the opportunity to “reason with him… about his action but don’t crucify him. It’s a learning lesson and teachable moment for all,” he said.
“Youths be strong and remember anything is possible don’t think limit.”
Watson, the 2017 World Youth 400m champion, is one of the top young talents in Jamaica and the 19-year-old will take on the seniors at the Jamaica Championships later this summer in search of a place on the country’s Olympic team to the Tokyo Games.