There is life after Usain Bolt, assures Vilma Charlton

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

Olympian Vilma Charlton says she is confident that Jamaica's track and field will continue to spark the global track in the wake of the inimitable Usain Bolt.

The retirement of the Jamaican legend from track and field has had many worried about the future of Jamaica's dominance in the sport, but Charlton sought to allay fears with the promise of many more stars to come.

“Since 2002 we have been endowed with many, many stars, male and female; not one or two, but many. Last year Usain Bolt retired while some females had a break in their career for one reason or another.

“However, we will not become undaunted, we will not declare a drought of stars as, with development programmes such as ours, we will continue to unearth new talents,” she said in her address at the launch at 14th staging of the Douglas Forrest Invitational Track and Field Meet at the Alhambra Inn on Friday.

“We will not see another phenomenal athlete like Usain Bolt for a very long time, but we will produce stars who will shine and rise to the top,” Charlton went on.

Charlton, who was speaking on behalf of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in her post as second vice-president, commended the organisers of the Douglas Forrest Invitational for “continuing the pathway of developing young Jamaican athletes”.

The event, which is one of the earliest meets hosted on a synthetic track each season, will be held at the GC Foster College next Saturday, starting at 8:30 am with the 400m hurdles and is slated to end at 6:00 pm with the 4x400m Open.

Marketing manager at sponsors Western Union Yolande Gyles Levy was hopeful that the person to step up and fill the huge gap left by Bolt would be unearthed next Saturday.

“This 2017/2018 track and field season will bring about a new normal for all of us, as it marks the first time in almost 20 years that there will not be a Usain Bolt on the track.

“The real big man hung up his spikes last year and left huge shoes for someone to fill. It's my hope, my wish, my dream, that the person who someday does that and more will be among the athletes competing at the Douglas Forrest Meet this year,” she said.

Committee chairman and meet founder Brian Smith says that the JAAA needs to return to the basics in order to ensure that the best athletes produced can go on to represent the country at the highest level.

“Track and field never started with Bolt and will not end with Bolt. What we need to do is to work out how we are going to sustain it... we have done it in the past, we did it in 1998 and we have done it in 2002.

“In 1998 the JAAA's, led by Adrian Wallace, put a camp in place and we got two gold medals (at the World Junior Championships) and a silver at a championship we were not expected to get any medals in. This was all because of the camp where we had the athletes in training for seven weeks. In 2002, we did the same thing and that is where Bolt emerged. If we did not do that in 2002, I am quite certain there would be no Bolt today,” he suggested.

Smith also highlighted a few of the challenges facing the meet and begged for understanding for coaches and athletes alike.

“There is no light at GC Foster, so we have to finish at that time (6:00 pm). It is difficult to put in all the events that the coaches want... our challenge for Saturday is the 200m; maybe Bolts' 19.19s (World Record) has set the tone for that. We have too many entries for the 200m and that event alone is likely to take up to four or five hours,” Smith explained

He outlined the order of track events as follows: 400m hurdles, 5000m for boys, 3000m for girls, 200m, 1500m, 800m, medley relays and 4x400m relays. The field events on offer are: high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put, and discus.

— Dwayne Richards




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon