'It was Jamaica's Commonwealth Games,' says Fennell
GLASGOW, Scotland — It's hard to imagine what the XX Commonwealth Games would have been like without the Jamaican spark and flavour and what it would have been like without the Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt, who brings stardust to the meet and to the city.
There was excitement, as there was anxiety, as people here got nervy he wasn't going to show. But he finally took to the track on Friday in the semi-final heats of the men's 4x100m, and Glaswegians were relieved. They had seen their messiah.
And Bolt further obliged a day later in the final with a scintillating anchor leg to lead Jamaica to gold in a meet record and world-leading 37.58 seconds on a wet Hampden Park track, showing that the weather failed to put a damper on Bolt and his fired-up relay teammates of Jason Livermore, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade.
The Jamaicans already had the world record of 36.84 seconds, set in London in 2012. And who could forget the images of the world's fastest man streaking to victory in that brilliant race?
Jamaica's 22 medals in Glasgow represent one of the best-ever hauls in the Commonwealth Games, or any other major championship for that matter. The team secured 10 gold, four silver and eight bronze medals — the majority won in track and field as expected.
Away from Hampden Park, Alia Atkinson won two of those medals — silver in the 50m breaststroke and bronze in the 100m breaststroke. And, on the final day of competition on Sunday, the Sunshine Girls quenched their medal thirst by winning bronze by defeating England 52-48.
On the track, the two sweeps took the cake. Firstly, the 400m 1-2-3 with Stephenie McPherson (50.67) winning gold, Novlene Williams-Mills (50.86) taking silver, and Christine Day (51.09) copping bronze.
Seeing the women's success, the men's 200m trio got jealous and decided that they, too, could repeat this feat. And they obliged. Rasheed Dwyer (20.14) took gold, with Warren Weir (20.26) following close for silver, and Jason Livermore (20.32) with a late burst completed the sweep.
On the final night of competition in track and field, the 4x400m relay team of Day, Williams-Mills, Anastasia Le-Roy, and McPherson ran a games record 3:23.82 minutes for gold.
Nigeria won silver in 3:24.71, while England were third in 3:27.24.
But the record bug did not just sting quarter-milers, the sprinters were also infected.
Coming back from injury and showing little signs of not being fully fit, Olympic and World Championships gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran a blistering anchor leg to guide the Jamaican team to a Commonwealth Games record and world-leading time of 41.83 seconds.
Her teammates Kerron Stewart, Veronica Campbell Brown, and Schillonie Calvert got the baton around seamlessly to handover to the 'Pocket Rocket', who opened up the jets to finish in style.
Nigeria were second for silver in 42.92 and England won bronze in 43.10.
With the inimitable Usain Bolt on a relay team in a final, fireworks are bound to go off. And they did. In another games record and world-leading 37.58 seconds, the Jamaican men, with textbook baton changeovers, had no match.
Jason Livermore, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade were impeccable getting the baton around. And when it got to Bolt, he showed little of the rust of the day before in the semi-finals, and he was clearly after something more than just gold. He appeared in record-breaking mood.
On the track, Andrew Riley (13.32) won gold in the 110m hurdles, so did Bailey-Cole (10:00) in the men's 100m. In the latter event, Ashmeade (10.12) claimed bronze.
Kaliese Spencer ended her gold medal drought by winning the women's 400m hurdles in 54.10 seconds, ahead of Scotland's Eilidh Child (55.02). Spencer's compatriot and MVP Track Club teammate Janieve Russell (55.64) claimed the bronze medal.
Other interesting results were the gold medals won by in the field by O'Dayne Richards in the shot put and Kimberly Williams in the triple jump. Richards took his gold in a meet record 21.61 metres, while Williams' jump was measured at 14.21.
Another success inside the track came when Jason Morgan won bronze in the men's discus.
The veteran and the decorated Campbell Brown (11:03) took silver in the women's 100m, trailing the in-form Nigerian Blessing Okagbare (10:85). Campbell Brown's teammate Stewart (11:07) took the bronze.
"Certainly Jamaica's performance has been outstanding, the track and field last night (Saturday) would blow anybody's mind, and I think in a way... we had four relays, and they won three of them in record-breaking style, and of course our superstar Usain just blew the crowd away," said Jamaica Olympic Association President Mike Fennell.
"It was Jamaica's Commonwealth Games," he added.
But with so many magical Jamaican moments, Fennell struggled to pick just one.
"Many, many moments, but I would imagine that it would be when our girls did the one-two-three in the 400 metres, and when Alia Atkinson won silver, though she expected a win, but she swam her heart out and did very well.
"We must remember the other sports that we didn't win medals in like table tennis, badminton, the diver (Yohan Knight-Wisdom) was excellent. I did not get a chance to go to shooting, because it was two hours away and things were so busy here," said the former president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Technical director of the Jamaican athletic team, Maurice Wilson, thinks the Glasgow games were of very high quality.
"I think it was the most competitive Commonwealth Games as almost all the top athletes are here," he told the Jamaica Observer.
With regard to the sublime sweeps, Wilson said they came as no surprise to him.
"Once we have three runners in a final we are expected to take one-two-three. If it was not done then there would be disappointment... people just expect that trend to continue," said the head coach at the 2012 London Olympics.
He said that the high-quality coaching team in Glasgow must be applauded for a job well done.
"We had coaches here of different skills sets, and the athletes were able to properly prepare. And I must congratulate the coaches as they have done well in developing the athletes," Wilson expressed.