Cunningham delivers gold in world-record manner
THE temperature at the IPC Athletics World Championships rose yesterday and it had nothing to do with French weather in the revered wine city of Lyon. Rather, it had everything to do with a tropical heat wave which Alphanso 'The Ambassador' Cunningham unleashed at the Stade du Rhone and its environs.
Cunningham stormed to the gold medal, breaking the world record three times with superlative authority in the men's F52/53 javelin competition. He established the record first with 22.13m, then with 22.71m and finally with 24.30m.
"It wasn't me. It is Jamaica," said Cunningham, as he smiled and acknowledged congratulations from members of Team Jamaica whose expectations were again realised by a formidable athlete and sport ambassador of Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Shane Hudson reported late to the call room for the T46/47 and therefore was not permitted to take to the track. A huge disappointment for Jamaica and a bitter lesson for Hudson.
"I declare in the name of Alphanso 'The Ambassador' Cunningham Friday the 26th day of July, in Lyon, Jamaica Day," said coach Neville Sinclair with pride.
But with a heavy heart he remarked: "Hudson, Hudson if only he followed instructions he would have been with David Bascoe, the competitor and warrior."
Bascoe reported on time and ran the race of his life crossing the line in a personal best of 51.32 seconds for fourth position.
Cunningham's phenomenal performance was greeted by the international media with admiration. Brand Jamaica undoubtedly continues to enjoy global appeal and popularity and it is so evident at the championships in Lyon; and although the French have an undying reverence for the works of their classical composers such as Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Lili Boulanger and Claude Debussy, the Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff-inspired genre of reggae is now an influential part of the lives of generations of French.
The medal ceremony for Cunningham will be held today and the island's national anthem will reverberate in Lyon. Jamaica, the only English- speaking nation in the Caribbean to be represented there, will stand tal, and then proudly when Sylvia Grant takes to the circle in the women's F57/58 discus in search of another medal in Jamaica's final event at these championships.