Much to celebrate even as the wheel turns

Monday, August 13, 2012    

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The world owes a debt of gratitude to the British people, and in particular the City of London, for a grand show these past two weeks.

It seems clear that the London Games 2012 will be remembered as among the finest and best organised in the history of the Olympic movement.

Jamaicans are, of course, basking in the glory of our own athletes. Jamaica won 12 medals compared to 11 in Beijing four years ago, though the gold medal count went down from six to four.

Again, the incomparable Mr Usain Bolt stood head and shoulders over all others, but all our athletes, coaches and back room staff deserve the highest praise for a job well done.

Undoubtedly some things went wrong, or not as well as they could have. None of the weaknesses and failings should be ignored as we do our post-Games analyses. But at bottom line it is crucial that all stakeholders appreciate that the Jamaican campaign in London was highly successful.

And while nationalistic pride soars, we must not ignore the achievements of our Caricom sister nations and the wider Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago captured four medals — its best haul ever — including a stunning gold medal win by 19-year-old javelin thrower Mr Keshorn Walcott. Mr Walcott’s gold is the first such for Trinidad and Tobago since Mr Hasley Crawford famously won the 100m ahead of our own Mr Don Quarrie at the Montreal Olympics of 1976.

The men’s 4x400m relay team from Bahamas captured the gold medal to end US domination of that event. It was the first gold medal for Bahamian male Olympians.

Then there is Mr Kirani James from Grenada — a nation of just 105,000 people. Mr James, 19 years old and emerging as one of the true gentlemen of athletics, not only won gold, he became the first non-American to run the 400 metres under 44 seconds — 43.94. Incredibly, an American has won the 400 metre gold at every Olympic Games since 1984.

As we hail the successes in London of our regional brothers and sisters, we take pride in the knowledge that Jamaica’s achievements at the highest level of track and field have been inspirational for others region-wide.

And as we assess the performances of Jamaican athletes in London, we need to bear in mind that for several of our heroes and heroines this will have been their last Olympics.

That wonderful servant Mrs Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who so sadly crashed out of the first round of the women’s sprint hurdles, has already announced that this year will be her last in competition.

Jamaicans should also get used to the idea that in a matter of a few years several others of our heroes and heroines who have become household names in the world of track and field will be drifting from the scene.

Just consider: the legendary Mrs Veronica Campbell Brown is now 30 years old; Ms Melaine Walker, a gold medallist in Beijing four years ago, is 29; Ms Sherone Simpson, a key member of the women’s sprint relay team which won silver in London, turned 28 yesterday; Mr Asafa Powell, the man who reasserted Jamaica’s place in 100-metre sprinting in the early 2000s, is now 29 and struggling with chronic groin problems; and Mr Michael Frater, Olympic sprint relay gold medallist and world record holder in London, is 29.

The wheel of time turns. But Jamaicans can take comfort from the reality that several of those who are taking the baton from Mrs Foster-Hylton et al ‘strutted their stuff’ in London with great success.





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