OUR athletes deserve to be showered with all the superlatives in the dictionary, as well as those unique colloquialisms currently in usage in Jamaican dialect. However, most of these expressions of praise and appreciation from a grateful and proud nation are superficial and gloss over deeper lessons.
It cannot be said too often that the achievements of our athletes reflect phenomenal talent, incredible discipline, sustained hard work, and brilliant coaching. However, several important lessons are missed in the national euphoria.
Jamaica has built and operated one of the world's best systems of identifying talent at an early age and nurturing it through a network of coaches, many of whom are Olympians. No other country has an event comparable to Jamaica's four-day Boys' and Girls' Championships staged in a stadium packed with more than 20,000 cheering fans and televised locally and internationally.
The track and field industry (it is no longer only a sport) is locally owned, financed, managed, and staffed and is a foreign exchange-earning activity.
Jamaica is not just internationally competitive, it is a global leader — Not surprising for a country that has the best coffee and rum in the world.
Track and field, like tourism and bauxite, started based on a local asset being foreign-financed and foreign-managed. Now, our track and field industry no longer has to send athletes abroad to be trained.
In all this, the importance of tradition cannot be overlooked, as it has been established that all dreams are possible, a fact proven by pioneer athletes like Messrs Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint.
Their victories, dating back more than half-a-century to the colonial era, have been consolidated into a tradition by their successors such as Messrs George Kerr and Donald Quarrie and Ms Merlene Ottey.
As such, achievement in track and field has been an important means of social mobility for numerous youngsters from working class homes. It is still a critical avenue to a university education and to travel and employment abroad. It demonstrates the virtues of discipline, hard work and competition as vital attributes for success in any endeavour in life, and carry over from the track to the classroom and the workplace.
It teaches how to handle adversity, how to be gracious in victory and to accept and learn from defeat.
Track and field also encourages a clean and healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition and the benefits of avoiding the use of harmful drugs.
We have also seen that almost all of our leading athletes acknowledge that their accomplishments are not solely due to their own efforts and express their gratitude to God.
If all Jamaicans practised that lifestyle, this would be the wonderful country we all want it to be.