Editorial

Focus on Mr Asafa Powell as we honour athletes

Friday, August 24, 2012    

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Based on the letters to the editor and other commentary in the media, it is obvious that there still remains a level of euphoria over the performance of the Jamaican team at the just-concluded Olympic Games in London.

That is understandable. After all, our athletes did us proud, winning a record 12 medals -- four gold, four silver, and four bronze.

That the elation is lingering more than a week after the Games is not unusual, as the same happened four years ago after the Beijing Olympics, and the following year when our athletes displayed continued dominance of the sprint events at the World Championships in Berlin.

After both events, the Government saw it fit to honour our athletes. Those gestures, we believe, were appropriate and, quite simply, spoke to the great debt of gratitude that Jamaica owes its sporting heroes and heroines. For their performances have given significant boost to the efforts of successive Administrations to promote the country, especially as a tourist destination.

It is with that in mind that we encourage the Government to give a lot of serious thought to how it intends to honour our athletes when they are all back home.

We should ensure that whatever is done imparts to the country, particularly the young, the value of hard work, dedication and commitment to Jamaica. For those traits are at the heart of the athletes' accomplishments.

We would also encourage the Government to use the occasion to offer to Mr Asafa Powell the country's heartiest congratulations and expression of pride for his sterling performances and representation of Jamaica over many years.

We cannot ignore the fact that before the past four years of exceptional results, Mr Powell held Jamaica's flag high and made us all proud. Few athletes can boast of holding the 100-metres world record for just under three consecutive years. Posting times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds, Mr Powell held that record from June 2005 to May 2008.

He alone has the distinction of legally breaking the 10-second barrier in the 100-metres a mind-boggling total of 80 times. We should not forget, too, that his 9.72 seconds set in September 2008 in Lausanne, Switzerland, ranks him as the fourth fastest man in history to date.

We remember, too, with pride, his magnificent anchor leg in the 4x100m relay at the Beijing Olympics that saw the Jamaican team smashing the world record and giving him, at last, an Olympic Gold medal.

Our one regret is that Mr Powell has been plagued by injury, and, unfortunately, was not able to complete his quest for an individual Olympic medal in London a few weeks ago.

That disappointment, however, cannot negate his achievements thus far. We have no word yet as to whether Mr Powell, who is now 29 years old, will stay in the game, given that his injury requires surgery and will need time to heal. However, we believe that Jamaica should not wait to acknowledge his achievements in a significant way. For here stands a young man who has not only represented his country with distinction, but is giving back through the Asafa Powell Foundation from which hundreds of young Jamaicans have benefited.

Mr Powell is, indeed, a true Jamaican champion.

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