The Point Is...
VERONICA Campbell Brown, the Jamaican athlete who won Olympic gold medals at the 2004 Games in Athens and at Beijing in 2008, could face suspension after diuretics — which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — were found in her system.
I was stunned by the news. I am a big fan of Campbell Brown and a big admirer of Jamaican athletics. For such a small, black, developing nation to consistently dominate world sprints, is truly amazing and unbelievable.
Sports, for us in this region, is always more than sports. We have used sports as a political tool of defiance, protest, diplomacy and revenge throughout our short history.
When we dominated world cricket, West Indian society had real pride, especially when we beat the former colonial masters. West Indians in the UK felt liberated from all the discrimination and oppression they experienced.
There was nothing sweeter than back in the day when West Indies whipped England at cricket's sacred ground, Lord's. And, to add insult to injury, Trinidadian Lord Kitchener celebrated the victory in calypso. Britain's Caribbean population was in ecstasy — a spontaneous carnival sparked by a cricket win over England.
So, when we express disgust with our state of cricket it's not just about the game. When Jamaica — and later Trinidad and Tobago — made it to FIFA's World Cup Football finals, we in Grenada felt that we made it too. Such was the pride and joy we felt for our neighbours. This was not just about football.
The fact is, we are small, poor countries; we have experienced slavery, colonialism, revolts and rebellion and third world status — even when there was no discernible second world.
So, we know that we are not considered equals to the inhabitants of the cities and countries that we have built. Therefore, whenever we get an opportunity to show the world that we, as a people, are as good or better than any, we do so with great pride.
Jamaica has not only produced many world-class athletes over the decades, but their athletes are also coached by Jamaicans living in Jamaica — using Jamaican facilities and expertise. Amazing, isn't it?
I remember the days when our top athletes were based outside of the region, in particular the US. Now, they can remain in the region and train and beat the hell out of the Americans and the rest of the world.
One can recall Carl Lewis attempting to pour scorn on the great man, Usain Bolt, and we know the Americans will look for anything to point fingers at the Jamaicans. They are more than sore losers; they have a superiority complex and when it comes to us they have their noses in the air, until they are soundly beaten on the field of play.
That is why Jamaican athletes and administrators have to be so careful; not only Jamaicans, but also all of our Caribbean athletes.
I always keep Kirani James, Grenada's Olympic and World 400-metre champion, in my prayers. I know some of the powers that be would love to destroy him as well. After all, we are reigning in an area that we are supposed to be less equipped than the bigger nations to dominate. That makes us very dangerous. They would love to paint all of us with the same brush.
Arley Gill, a lawyer, is a former Grenada Minister of Culture. This article was first published in the Grenada weekly, Caribupdate.