The positives in London must not be lost in the mix

Monday, August 14, 2017

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We shouldn't be surprised if London is Mr Usain Bolt's favourite city behind Kingston.

Surely there never has been a celebration of an athlete's career as was witnessed at the end of the IAAF World Championships in London yesterday.

It was a staggering demonstration of love and appreciation for an athlete credited with having saved world athletics at a time of crisis triggered by drug cheating and dire suspicions.

Not just for his colossal talent, but also for his charismatic personality and sense of fun, Mr Bolt has been able to inspire and positively affect people across the globe. We expect he will continue to be an inspiration to others even as he puts competitive athletics behind him.

Such are the twists and turns of life that a championship planned as a triumphant farewell to Mr Bolt was discoloured by a succession of adversities affecting not just Mr Bolt but the entire Jamaican team.

One commentator said it's “almost as if the Jamaicans were jinxed”.

Many if not most Jamaicans would argue that it was a case of 'bad luck wus dan obeah'.

Distressing underachievement and injuries apart, the painful reports surfacing yesterday of discord within the Jamaican team, and the many questions that have arisen over recent days, will have to be addressed.

Sadly, even as there is constructive criticism, and a searching for answers, the destructive blame game will probably take centre stage as well.

Yet even as Jamaicans grieve and lament what some are describing as a “forgettable” championship, we must not forget the achievements. As a people Jamaicans have always known how to take the rough with the smooth. They must do so now.

So even as Jamaicans contemplate what could have been, the glorious, technically superb run by Mr Omar McLeod which brought gold in the men's 110m hurdles must not be forgotten. Nor should the battling, never say die performances which earned bronze medals, be discounted.

The tremendous effort by the many athletes who did their very best in so many disciplines — some way outside the traditional sprint events associated with Jamaica — must be recognised and celebrated.

The trouble is that such has been the success of Jamaican athletic teams at major championships since the turn of the century that many have forgotten the lean days. At the Olympics, for example, Jamaica had to do without a gold medal for 20 years until Ms Deon Hemmings famously stormed to victory in the 400m hurdles in Atlanta in 1996.

Back then Jamaicans celebrated Miss Hemmings' gold the way our brothers and sisters in Trinidad and Tobago are now marking that sensational gold medal run by their 4x400m relay team yesterday.

By all means we must ask questions about what went wrong in London. But we must also be thankful for what we have. And even as we say goodbye to Mr Bolt and other fabulous achievers of his era, let's plan for the future. As was shown at the World Under-18 championships in Kenya last month, there are many budding Jamaican world beaters just awaiting their turn.




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