“Knit your own Usain Bolt!” The challenge was put to Radio Times readers in the magazine’s 14 July issue: follow our pattern and create your own miniature, woolly version of the Jamaican sprinting legend.
Readers soon started sending in photos of their efforts, but this one beats them all: 19-year-old Rebecca Blacklock of Wallasey, Wirral presenting hers to the real Usain Bolt.
Rebecca, a sport and exercise science student at Birmingham University, spent two weeks helping the Jamaican Olympic team as they used the campus facilities for their final pre-Games training sessions. When the athletes said goodbye on 26 July, Rebecca surprised the great Usain Bolt with his likeness in wool.
“He took it in his stride, laughing and joking,” Rebecca told Radio Times. “He liked that someone had gone to that effort. He said it was great – I thought he was going to walk off with it. I said, I want that back!”
Rebecca would have had her 75-year-old grandmother Hazel to answer if she’d lost the Usain doll: it was actually Grandma who followed the Radio Times pattern and knitted the doll as a gift to Rebecca.
“It took her a long time to make all the separate parts, but she told me it was worth it because when I saw it, I liked it so much,” Rebecca said. “What will she knit next? I did point out a Jessica Ennis pattern on the internet, but I’m not too sure…”
After graduation, Rebecca hopes to work in sport medicine while continuing her spare-time work as a gymnastics and trampolining coach. During the Jamaican team’s stay in Birmingham, she had the chance to assess Bolt and his countryman Yohan Blake at close quarters.
“We saw them going to and from training and we watched Usain train a bit. He says he’s got a bit of a back injury, but nothing major. He looked alright to me! I reckon he’s good to go. But it’ll be a tough race between him and Yohan Blake. Yohan beat him in the Jamaican trials.
“Yohan was really chatty – I talked to him about his training.”
So who’s going to win the 100m final on Sunday, then? “I don’t know. I can’t say! I really think it’ll be that close.”
Rebecca plans to watch the race at home with her family – plus little Usain, of course. “We couldn’t get tickets unfortunately so we’re watching the Games on TV.”
She has, however, had first-hand experience of the Games: on 1 June Rebecca carried the Olympic torch in Birkenhead.
“I was nominated because I’ve done quite a lot of work for charity with people with disabilities, coaching trampolining and gymnastics, and I volunteered at the trampolining world championships.
“On the day, once I saw all my family and friends, and the crowds, I was overwhelmed. I had tears in my eyes but I thought, don’t cry! I just didn’t want to trip over or drop it. It was amazing.”