The weight of disappointment

Friday, August 25, 2017

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WHAT a difference life can be, eeh? Who would ever believe that what started out as an opportunity for one of the world's finest champions in the athletics arena would find him laid low, deprived of his health and his skills. Usain Bolt's name has borne the weight of disappointment in recent events which occurred at the World Championships in London.

His homeland, Jamaica, had to come to grips with changed circumstances. It was difficult for his fans to have seen him writhing in agony, his body failing him as he tried to bring home the gold. A friend of mine with English roots, spoke of the feedback he received. He was amazed at how many supporters continued to show respect for the man who, in their opinion, was “a Sprint Legend”.

On the cold England ground, Bolt fell and rose again, in the spirit of faith, teaching a lesson on survival. His colleagues rushed to his side and remained alongside him, giving him support as he rose to stand on his own two feet. The Jamaican spirit of kindness kept vigil.

Unfortunately, thereafter not every member of the home tribe has been supportive. The “bad-mouthers” were quick to take to the road, retailing all kinds of ugliness. In better times, some of the very ones chatting might have wrestled others to the ground should anyone dare to question the ability of our hero. To quiet the naysayers, Bolt's camp released his medical report to authenticate the injury he had suffered.

Our hero has new challenges to face, new roads to travel, new decisions to make. According to folklore, our national symbol the “Doctor Bud is a cunny bud”. We are advised, “Pick him up, fling him down… hard bud fi dead.” The Doctor Bird, flying over our land, reminds Bolt and us that we must continue to be people of courage.

Usain Bolt has been especially fortunate for the upbringing and training received from parents who raised him in a quiet area of rural Jamaica in the parish of Trelawny. It is this upbringing which has made him such a pride to home and nation. To see him responding to his parents, his mother particularly, it is evident that he is sensitive to the teaching of family life. He may have faltered at times, but it is clear he continues to remain committed to a spirit of decency no matter how hard the road may be. There's a new generation ahead who, it is evident, will learn from this lesson.

It has been almost two weeks since Bolt's official retirement from track and field and, while he seeks treatment for the injury, many wonder how soon he will come home. Much hasn't been heard, much from officialdom, as to how we will salute him when he arrives. Will more people show respect when he does? And what about sponsors at home and especially abroad? Will there be continued connections still?

Unfortunately, there will be those who will not hesitate to be unkind. They will rejoice in misfortune, but they will never drown out the memories of the thousands and tens of thousands all around the world who chanted “Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt!” The “Ballad of Usain” will still be heard. Come home if you want to, Brother. Come home. Is your country; nobody should be able to keep you away.

Safeguarding our story

When, oh, when will the long-held idea of creating a sports hall of fame become reality? The public has been waiting for so long. The stories of our journey need to be heard — from Arthur Wint, the trailblazer, to the new stars of today. Much history has been written and we must highlight their contribution over the years, not just in track and field, but the other areas of sport where we have excelled.

Sponsors have become an important factor in helping to bring change to the landscape of Jamaica. A lot of development ideas are turning up every day. What is delaying the sports museum? Let's get to it. A new generation stands ready to become a new part of our history. The Usain story will have its place as history continues to be written.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or

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