After the Olympics, what now?
Congratulations, Jamaica. What an Olympic performance! Clearly it was of Olympic proportions.
The official and unofficial sports pundits have been making their press-room and bar-room comments and witticisms for formal and informal publications, so I ask them to consider and answer one question. What now?
Some people are demanding a public holiday. But why should weeks of hard work and productivity by our athletes result in a day of no work and unproductivity for the rest of us? Let's do something that will build on their successes and increase our Olympic achievements. Here are my suggestions:
(1) Increase our Olympic "gene pool": Our inspiring Alia Atkinson revealed that she needs more support. There must be a private sector organisation that can spare the cash for the next four years and reap the benefits of her success and other swimmers in Rio. Let's see the hands of those who had a chance to invest in Bolt in his early "chain biting", "Gay whipping him" years, but didn't. You regret it now, don't you? Don't make that mistake with our current non-track and field Olympic athletes.
(2) Increase our Olympic entries: Let's enter more events. I recently gave two of our school children (who had a cat fight with each other) the choice to be suspended or wrestle each other in a circle formed by their peers. I am still astounded by their natural wrestling ability.
After they were through, all their friends excitedly wanted a chance to show their skills and I allowed them and watched in awe. We have a plethora of natural talent in Jamaica that can be translated into Olympic entries in four years. Here's what we must do: (a) Let's select a number of Olympic events in which we have no representation, but could have our Black, Green and Gold represented. (b) Let's "Bill Board" these Olympic events and qualifying criteria in each of the approximately 800 communities in our island. (c) Let's challenge our youth and youth clubs to train for these events and each year have a "national meet" to measure progress. Some easy ones that come to mind are wrestling, archery, shooting, canoeing, cycling, diving.
(3) Increase our understanding of what brings success in sports: The components and strategies for success in sports cannot be the exclusive knowledge of only a few Jamaicans. And even those "in the know" cannot "rest on their laurels". What Glen Mills and Steve Francis now know should be urgently documented and formally imparted to all Jamaican early childhood, primary and high school coaches.
Remember when the West Indies cricket team was the greatest in the world? No one under 30 can now believe that, can they? If Jamaican Olympic performance went the way of West Indies cricket, that would be a disaster of Olympic proportions!
Gideon Educational Centre
Buff Bay, Portland