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Capitalising on Bolt's love-in.

Byline: AMMOTALWAR

Epic night - epic quote! But what was the wisdom behind the world's fastest men giving shout-outs to the second city all those weeks ago? If you saw the clip - you'll know I'm talking about the post-race interview after the 200m final.

The Lightning Bolt had already said his piece and was merging into the background. So it was Yohan Blake who first let us know he had left his heart in Brum. "I just want to say big-up, Birmingham," spat the Beast, "Birmingham people, you guys took care of us. We have to give you all the respect, Birmingham." And then Bolt bounced back into shot - "Birmingham people: when we were at camp, they were extremely great to us. They showed us a lot of love and thank you guys." Two days later, Bolt was giving another big-up Birmingham interview.

So what was it we actually did? Most of the props were going out to Birmingham University, who took special care of the JA team, and even brought in a chef so yard-style food was always on hand. They got some bigger beds in, too - seven footers. But we know that the JA team liked the city's amenities too: shopping at M&S and watching 'The Lorax' on Broad Street.

But there was nothing forced, unnatural or in any way political about their words of thanks, which made them so special and unique. In fact, you can't buy a celebrity endorsement like that. Really. A superstar calls out your name and there's millions of people all glued to their seats. It's Madonna dancing the half-time Superbowl show with your name written on her undies. But could this be a game changer for all of us who've been working to earn respect for Birmingham from the nation's media. And how are we going to capitalise on this? How are we planning to monetize a shout-out? What are the city council doing?- and the arm's length agencies that exist to promote Birmingham - planning to do this month, and this year, to instil confidence and foster opportunities for Birmingham businesses in the wake of this amazing Olympic windfall? Birmingham's new leadership must now build on the strength, the business acumen and the goodwill mobilised in 2012 by the Jamaican community.

At the very least there needs to be a permanent annual Caribbean festival, in the city centre, that mirrors the Frankfurt Christmas market. Posters and blogs and words - even ones like these - are all very well up to a point. But it's time for action. This must be more than just a hashtag!

Ammo Talwar MBE is founder and director of Punch Records
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 6, 2012
Words:442
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