A change can make a world of differenceSaturday, August 14, 2021
The Tokyo Olympics are in the rear-view mirror but Jamaicans, hard-pressed by the latest alarming COVID-19 surge, remain on a high at the performance of their athletes.
However, a complaint often heard from those who pay closest attention to major events such as Olympic Games and World Championships is that not enough credit is given to those who do well without winning medals.
In that regard, we are grateful to Jamaica Observer writer, Mr Paul Reid, for reminding us of outstanding achievements in Tokyo apart from medals won.
Jamaicans set four national records in track and field.
Also, Mr Reid tells us: “... there were eight personal best performances, two equalled, and 10 season's bests”.
We take heart from pledges that all those returning from Tokyo, not just medal winners, will be honoured.
“[W]e can't wait to show … how we're gonna take care of all our athletes [with] true, fine, world-class Jamaican hospitality,” said Mr Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International, as he greeted 110m hurdles gold medal winner Mr Hansle Parchment on his return from Tokyo.
All the same, no achievement at any major Games equals a medal. Hence, the grief of Ms Stephenie Ann McPherson, after picking up an injury halfway through her 400-metre final to finish outside the medal frame.
Equally, we note the heartbreak of sprinter Mr Julian Forte, who tells us via social media that he came close to retiring from the track after not medalling in Tokyo.
We feel for all those who work hard year after year, without being able to realise their dream. Continued hard work and dedication are obvious recommendations. But in life, even those are, on occasions, not enough.
That's why Jamaican Olympian Mr Danny McFarlane took the radical decision to change disciplines back in the early 2000s
After shifting from the flat 400 metres to the 400-metre hurdles, Mr McFarlane — with a heart as big as his powerful frame — chased down the field, with the exception of the legendary Mr Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, to take the silver medal at the Athens Olympics of 2004. It stands today among the great achievements of Jamaica's storied Olympic history
Mr McFarlane chose the hurdles. But there are other options. Let's consider the men's 800 metres: Jamaica's national record of 1:45.2 minutes, which is pedestrian by today's global standards, was set by Mr Seymour Newman in 1977. That's 44 years ago. Surely, a 400-metre runner struggling to break 45 seconds should be contemplating the 800 metres — in which Mr Arthur Wint won silver in 1948 and Mr George Kerr, a bronze medal, in 1960.
Similarly, we believe those in the short sprints now unable to break 10 seconds in the 100 metres, and 20 seconds in the 200 metres, should be contemplating change.
It's hard and painful, we know. But as the old Jamaican saying goes “If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run.”
With the expert guidance of their coaches and backers, we think more athletes should be following the inspirational example of Mr Danny McFarlane.