Abusing our athletics riches
IF there is anything we love as Jamaicans it's a good debate. Sometimes, however, the debate turns into sheer abuse.
We are getting the sense that the debate over who is the best athlete running the men's 100 metres sprint for Jamaica is becoming abusive about one athlete or another.
Nothing is wrong with someone believing that Mr Usain Bolt is faster and more likely to win the 100m and 200m at the London Olympics, or that Mr Yohan Blake, his Racers Track Club stablemate and apparent friend, is the faster and more likely to win. Such discussions are to be expected of Jamaicans as their way of participating in the process of selecting our team to London.
The truth is that we have an embarrassment of athletics riches and many countries in the world would love to have this problem of having so many worthy athletes from whom to choose. Jamaica's great fortune to have so many, both among the women and the men, is still a story not yet fully told or analysed. Perhaps we lack the maturity in knowing how to handle this abundance of fast men and women.
We note, of course, the obvious camaraderie and esprit de corps between Messrs Bolt and Blake, in which the latter is never shy to acknowledge the inspiration and encouragement provided by the former. Similarly, we admire the friendship between Messrs Bolt and Asafa Powell that endures beyond the track and the fabled road races.
While we admit to the right of all Jamaicans to have a view about who will win what race, we suggest that what is most important is not who wins but that a Jamaican athlete is victorious.
So whether it's Messrs Bolt, Blake or Powell, that's just fine by us. Better yet, if it is Messrs Bolt, Blake and Powell as one, two, three — in whatever order. Similarly, we don't quite care if it is Mrs Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Mrs Veronica Campbell-Brown or Miss Kerron Stewart who are accepting gold in the 100m women, so long as it is one of them. And again, better yet if all three are there in a one-two-three finish.
Jamaicans should use every opportunity to encourage and celebrate all our athletes as they represent us and carry the flag. The medals they bring home are the pride and joy of us all.
The Jamaican media can be of tremendous good in not encouraging any of the foolish abuse we hear and see. But while welcoming the debate about our prospects in London, let us highlight the benefits of our athletic riches.
In fact, let us resolve to use the success of our athletes — the hard work that is involved, the strength of character that it represents and the audacity of a tiny country to think it can beat the world — as the marker on our way forward into the next 50 years of Jamaican independence.