When Usain Bolt shared on Monday that popular US game show Jeopardy! had used his famous To Di World pose—which he first unveiled at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—as the clue to a question, his fans became abuzz with excitement.
The sprint icon had shared a screenshot of the Jeopardy! question on Twitter, which asked its participants to: “Try to match Usain Bolt’s famous victory pose, also a move in Dancehall culture, from this, his home country”.
Usain captioned the post which he shared at exactly 7:00 pm on Monday as: “I’m see if my peeps knows what’s up @Jeopardy”.
His post evoked several responses from his excited followers, especially his Jamaican compatriots. “Second day Jamaica/Jamaican athlete is a clue on Jeopardy,” one follower posted.
Although many persons globally, including President Barack Obama, Prince Harry and Brazilian footballer Neymar have copied the To Di World pose as a means of appearing ‘cool’, most are not aware that the name and the pose are creatures of the Dancehall space.
Antomica (@mister_manlyman) September 28, 2021
The genesis of the term and the dance move from which it was derived and the pose, have been conflated and seemingly blurred over time.
In 2016, Usain Bolt told Yahoo News in a video interview that the pose emanated from a Jamaican dance called To the World. The dance though, which accompanied the clip of Bolt’s interview, however, was the Thunder Clap, from which his pose appears to be a variation.
The Thunder Clap dance was first used by Elephant Man in his 2007 song Get On Up and Dance, which was rotated heavily in the Dancehall space leading into the Olympic year, and in which he instructed listeners to do various types of dance moves.
In another interview in Jamaica a few years ago, Bolt had explained that he had wanted a signature pose and had at first decided to depict an archer with a bow and arrow, standing in the shooting position whilst aiming at a target like the famed William Tell. He, however, decided to tweak the pose a little and point towards the sky to make it uniquely his and to make it appear non-violent.
In a 2016 article, USA Today noted that “sadly, no one can quite remember where the To Di World move first originated from although, unsurprisingly given Bolt’s success, many people have tried laying claim to it since”.
According to the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), the A-Team producer’s To Di World (Lightning Bolt) pose and the To Di World are registered trademarks. WIPO states on its website that many sports personalities have registered themselves as trademarks, not only their own name but also nicknames, poses, slogans, signatures, or other insignia for which they are well known.
In August 2008, there was a riddim released titled To The World (originally titled Up and Live), a bouncy beat produced by Arif Cooper’s Fresh Air label, which featured songs such as Elephant Man’s Pum Pum Pum, Sean Paul’s Midas Touch and Vybz Kartel’s Body Wine, TOK’s Sexy and Ready and Voice Mail’s Up and Live.
Bolt’s most recent commercial use of his To Di World pose has been for a marketing contract with Italian fashion house Replay.
“Replay is a major global player in the denim and fashion industry & I am very excited to work with them. @replay is known for innovation, Italian flare and high quality products,” Bolt noted on his Instagram page yesterday as the caption for a photograph of him clad in Replay gear.
“We have some great projects in the pipeline. Watch this space”, he said in his promotion of the Italian company which is described as a premium denim and casualwear brand known for innovative flair, characteristic Italian design and the superb quality of its denim, casualwear, footwear and accessories for men and women.