Letters to the Editor

Spoilsport Burke!

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Why did Michael Burke in his piece “Palm Sunday in August”, in the August 16 Jamaica Observer find it necessary to once again take shots at Usain Bolt? Michael has always been critical of people like Usain Bolt who are young, successful, famous and rich and who are not necessarily of his social and religious way of life. And even if the likes of a Usain Bolt constitutes 95 per cent positivity in his life, all Michael dwells on repeatedly is the five per cent negatives.

Look at what Usain has done again for world athletics and most important, for Jamaica in London, and instead of heaping praises on his superhuman accomplishments like 99.99 per cent of Jamaicans and other people in the world, Burke resurrected a four-month-old minor traffic accident and cast aspersions as to whether Usain would be treated favourably in the traffic court.

Jamaica and the rest of the world are celebrating Usain Bolt, but he found it necessary and purposeful also to resurrect a four-year-old interview when Usain, at the age of 21, honestly admitted that he tried ganja once. So? Usain was being honest and that is more than I can say about most people whose personal deeds are never revealed. So what if his curiosity got the better of him to try the “herb” once? Admittedly, so did the great swimmer Michael Phelps and also the great Barack Obama. What good can come from rehashing this four-year-old “misspeak” from Usain, other than the likes of Carl Lewis and some elements of the American media using it as ammunition to further try and tarnish Usain’s character?

Michael then went on to remind us in his article that he vehemently disagreed four years ago when the then PM was granting Usain all those awards, Ambassador, OJ, etc. News flash, Michael, the young man deserves all that and more! Usain does not need Jamaica as much as Jamaica needs him and our other world-beating athletes. I have never heard Michael speak out about awards being given to some politicians and other less deserving people who have not contributed five per cent of what Usain has done.

Look at Keshorn Walcott, the Trinidad javelin gold medallist – the javelin event is not even close to being one of the marquee events and he did not win in a worldrecord distance, but his prime minister was at the airport to meet him to celebrate and declare a public holiday, and a few national awards have already been proposed. Additionally, the young man has been given a luxury house, TT$1 million, 20,000 square ft of land, a university scholarship, a lighthouse named after him, his home town renamed after him, one of the Caribbean Airlines planes named after him and the list goes on – for one gold medal in the javelin.

Now, Usain Bolt has six Olympic gold medals, five of which are in Olympic record times in the most watched events at the Olympics (two billion estimated viewers) and Michael Burke does not even want to recognise the man's achievements with a few awards – OJ, CD, etc. We should stop at nothing to recognise and award those who are bringing glory to this country. It is the views of people like Michael that discourage the youths of the country and make the likes of a Usain et al, wanting or wishing that they were born in countries like Trinidad and Tobago.

Richard Patterson




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