Let’s allow our athletes to focus

Saturday, July 21, 2012    

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WITH less than week to go before the official start of the 2012 Olympic Games, excitement is growing among sport fans, the organisers and, most of all, the athletes who will compete for glory over the next few weeks.

Recent events in Birmingham outside the Jamaica team camp suggest that fans are eager to see our athletes in training. While we understand the enthusiasm of the fans, we must impress upon them the need for the athletes to be allowed to train without distractions.

In fact, that very same point is made by the highly respected Mr Mike Fennell, the president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, in today’s edition. “We must respect the fact that when they are in these last few days of preparation, athletes need to be protected from too much other involvement... and as you know, if there is too much involvement, not only with the media, but with other things, the same people will complain that we are allowing the athletes to have too much involvement,” he told our reporter.

But even as we make the appeal on behalf of our athletes, we would encourage officials in the Jamaican delegation to have a word with the security officers at the camp who, it seems, have been a bit aggressive in doing their jobs.

At the same time, we wish to reiterate our appeal to Jamaicans around the world to resist the urge to pressure our athletes unduly.

As fortune would have it, Jamaica’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations coincide exactly with the London Olympics at a time when the performances of Jamaican athletes, especially sprinters — men and women — have been exceptional.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Jamaica’s athletic team exceeded all reasonable expectations by winning an unprecedented six gold medals, three silver and two bronze for a grand total of 11 medals.

The doubters were confounded a year later when Jamaican athletes captured seven gold among 13 medals at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Not surprisingly, the world expects much of Jamaica’s athletes yet again. Jamaicans even more so.

In the circumstances, we feel it necessary to advise caution. We are at one with Jamaica’s Olympic team officials Messrs Donald Quarrie and Maurice Wilson in urging Jamaicans to temper their expectations.

Don’t get us wrong, this newspaper believes Jamaican athletes will do well in London — cold and damp though it seems likely to be. Our fear is that there are those who will see any achievement below the heady heights of Beijing, four years ago, as a failure.

Such an attitude, we suggest, would be unwarranted and unfortunate.





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