Business

The Jamaica 'Sprint Factory Meet'

By Robert F Evans

Sunday, August 19, 2012    

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There may be arguments among experts about whether Usain Bolt is a legend but, where there can be no disagreement is that the tradition of Jamaican dominance in sprinting is legendary. Steps must be taken to preserve this heritage.

Jamaica should be focusing on dance/music and athletics, both of which together point to tourism. A successful tourist industry should, in addition to sun, sea and sand, provide a number of events per year to act as a magnet to bring visitors. A point of clarification is that the London Michael Jackson concert, on which he was working when he died, employed thousands of persons who were not performers. Getting straight to the point, a Track Competition headlined by our current stars would employ thousands of Jamaicans in diverse fields and also enhance the tourism product.

In order to take advantage of our natural aptitudes, the education system should be more skewed towards showcasing Jamaica's talents. For, example, training for engineering and architectural students should include familiarity with the design, construction and maintenance of a world class stage and sports facilities; for law students there should be increased knowledge of entertainment law, for doctors and psychologists more emphasis on entertainment and sports practitioners, and, for management students, increased awareness of event management techniques etc.)

The north-south toll road is a reality. Along this link it would be possible to locate a sports facility that would be within one and one-half hours of one and one-half million persons - including the north coast tourist areas.

The development of a state-of-the-art stadium complex capable of hosting a Diamond League event could possibly attract an investor who would make money from hosting events while the country makes money from the employment opportunities and tourism and gains increased brand Jamaica recognition. It has been suggested that a world class stadium could attract big overseas teams for training as well as pre-season games. There may be logistical issues with events that could impact on a track based stadium but, for some sports these are not insurmountable.

The viability of event production is not based only on selling seats. NBC paid about US one billion dollars for the exclusive television rights to the London 2012 Olympics. London 2012 is auctioning Olympic paraphernalia. A relay baton from a semi-final attracted a winning bid of about J$200,000. One can now understand why, after the world record 4 x 100m, Usain Bolt's attempt to keep the relay baton was denied by an official. He was eventually given the baton which could possibly have fetched millions of J-dollars at auction. (Compare this to 2009 in Berlin where Bolt, after he set the yet unbeaten world records in the 100m and 200m, was given a valuable piece of German heritage - a piece of the Berlin Wall.)

An event that would bring in much revenue to all stakeholders would be to fit a "Jamaica Sprint Factory Meet" into the annual or biennial global Track and Field calendar. This meet would bring to Jamaica the best international competition for the sprints - i.e. all events including hurdles and relays from 100 metres to 400 metres, the long jump and the triple jump. These field events, triple jump and long jump, are essentially an extension of sprinting. There would be nine events each for men and women. There could also be a Sprint Pentathlon - five events 100m, 200m, 400m, 110m hurdles and triple jump.

To conclude the meet with local flavor there should be a unique event held only in Jamaica called the "Sprint Factory Relay". One suggestion for such an event, on the presumption that it is not run anywhere else, is a 4 x 100m where the first leg is run by women, the second by men, the third by women and the anchor leg by men. Jamaican sprinters world likely set that initial world at about 39 seconds a barrier that would not last too long!

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