Western News

A splendid journey

ON THE SPORTING EDGE

Paul Reid

Thursday, September 20, 2012    

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THE 65 days between July 8 when I left Jamaica for Barcelona, Spain via Miami to September 10 when I returned from London must certainly go down as the most memorable and momentous of my nearly 30 years as a sports journalist.

From covering the IAAF World Junior Championships in historic Montjuic Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, to the razzle-dazzle of the 27th Olympic Games in the newest venue to take on the name of Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London, and finally to the most successful Paralympics ever.

The cherry on the top was witnessing the Olympic men's 100m final — three rows from the finish line on my birthday. As a sports fanatic all my life, it hardly gets better than seeing Usain Bolt run an Olympic Record 9.63 seconds and drag training partner Yohan Blake to a silver in 9.75 seconds.

The two-month period was spent covering international track and field, including an IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, but the experience was invaluable and one I won't soon forget.

Picking any one moment would be next to impossible with so many glorious moments to choose from over all three championships.

Of course, Bolt's three gold medals, including the one he earned anchoring the men's 4x100m relay team to a World Record 36.84 seconds on a cold night in east London, stands out. So did the 1-2-3 clean sweep of the men's 200m medals and Shelly Fraser's eyes-wide-open dash to the finish line in the women's 100m for the gold and, not to be outdone, Hansle Parchment's brilliant bronze in the men's 110m hurdles-all at the Olympic Games.

The reception to any and everything Jamaican in Barcelona, Birmingham where the Olympic team conducted a pre-event camp, London and Bedford in East Anglia where the Paralympic team set up camp, was to say the least, phenomenal.

Even if the Government had spent 100 million pounds on advertising and goodwill, they could not buy the positive vibes that were generated by the black, green and gold in Great Britain.

It was great to be a Jamaican in Great Britain this past summer.

Of course, it wasn't all peaches and cream; living out of two suitcases for nearly three months and hauling them from one place to the other, to the 10 different bedrooms that I slept in during the period and through the ancient London subway systems, took a toll.

At the height of the track and field programme at the Olympics, sleep, rest and decent meals were at a premium and some days lasted from 8:30 am when we left the hotel to 3:00 am the next day when we returned to the hotel only to sleep for a few hours, then wake up and start the process all over again.

The infamous temperamental English weather bared its teeth on occasions, but we were told it wasn't as bad as it could be. If that is so, then they can keep it.

It was tough work, the hardest I have ever been asked to do, given the appetites of sports fans, especially during the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and IAAF World Championships.

Given all I experienced in that 65-day period, would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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