Strength of mind to the fore in Budapest
In sport, like life, history, preparation and build-up to that most critical moment in time, though extremely important, never tell the whole story.
Crucially, too, it’s not only about raw talent.
It is also very much about endurance — that ability to go through the rounds and remain as close as possible to peak physical condition.
Then there must be strength of mind: That ability to withstand pressure when it matters most. Without that all is lost.
Ultimately, it all comes down to execution at that precise moment in time.
So it is, then, that as one television commentator said Thursday during the drama-filled sprint to the conclusion of day six of the fabulous World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary: “Favourites don’t always win…”
As Jamaicans enjoyed their best day at these World Championships on Thursday winning with five medals, including two gold from sprint hurdler Miss Danielle Williams and 21-year-old Mr Antonio Watson, they had good reason to hail not just their own, but equally the competition.
Consider the long jump Olympic champion, Mr Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece.
After prolonged struggle with three Jamaicans, in-form Mr Wayne Pinnock, Mr Tajay Gayle, and Mr Carey McLeod, the Greek entered his final jump in silver medal position, trailing the 22 year-old Mr Pinnock.
He needed an effort beyond compare to win that gold medal. He proceeded to deliver just that, relegating Mr Pinnock to silver.
Mr Gayle grabbed bronze, executing exactly as required, to displace Mr McLeod with a season’s best jump.
And what can we say of 30-year-old Ms Danielle Williams? Just as was the case in 2015 when she stunned the analysts by winning the gold medal, Ms Williams was among the ‘least of the apostles’ in the final — drawn in lane one — with the eyes of analysts on others who had done spectacular times during build-up.
And just like 2015, Ms Williams executed perfectly in one of Track athletics most technical of events, with eyes only on the prize, to take the gold medal in her season’s best 12.43 seconds.
From a purely Jamaican perspective, the most significant achievement of these championships thus far must be the gold medal run by Mr Watson, a star at Petersfield High School in Westmoreland not so long ago.
Jamaicans leaning forward before their television sets were cheering him on for the bronze medal when he entered the final straight. Many others would’ve been content with bronze. Not Mr Watson.
The 400 metres has been described as “pure pain”, and that was surely evident as Mr Watson strained every sinew, every muscle to go past all and sundry and cross the line first. This was the first Jamaican gold medal in the men’s 400 metres since Mr Bert Cameron in the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, in 1983.
A warrior to the core, Ms Rushell Clayton dipped below 53 seconds for the first time in her life to take the bronze medal in the 400m hurdles.
Jamaicans will recall that Thursday’s successes follow silver and bronze medals from Ms Shericka Jackson and living legend Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce in the 100 metres; as well as a silver medal from 110 metre hurdles Olympic champion Mr Hansle Parchment.
Jamaicans went to bed Thursday night confident that more glory awaits us in Budapest.