After Usain Bolt won the 100-meter Olympic gold medal in Rio this week, NBC’s Bob Costas wondered if the sprinter had surpassed reggae music icon Bob Marley as the most popular Jamaican in the world.
The three Jamaicans on the Portland Timbers say that depends.
"Well, for me, Usain Bolt for sure,” Timbers defender Jermaine Taylor said, when asked about the debate by MLSsoccer.com. “Yes, Bob Marley is a legend and a superstar, but Bolt appeals to the younger generation right now because he's the fastest man in the world. Everyone is looking up to him right now, with him being fit and healthy and still going strong on the world stage."
Bolt will run for a gold medal in the 200 meters this week, aiming to be the first man to ever win both the 100-meter and 200-meter events at three straight Olympic games. The sprinter, an avid soccer fan, continues to be one of the world's transcendent athletes.
Marley died after a battle with cancer in 1981, just 36 years old. The singer, as both a leader of the group The Wailers and a solo artist, arguably did more than any other artist to bring reggae music to a global audience, and his music remains popular to this day. One of the daughters who survived him, Cedella Marley, has also been an ambassador for the Jamaican national team and has worked with CONCACAF in the past.
Timbers right back Alvas Powell said Bolt is more popular among younger Jamaicans, but has some catching up to do to reach Marley’s status.
"For the younger generation, Usain Bolt. But, to me, Bob Marley is more popular overall,” Powell said.
Forward Darren Mattocks agreed.
"Globally, I think that Bob Marley has a bigger effect, in terms of his effect on the world stage,” Mattocks said. “But, for this generation, I would definitely say Usain Bolt."