Every time we are tempted to despair about the state of affairs in our country, especially the incessant violent crime which seem to defy all of the tried solutions, our athletes remind us that there is something intrinsically great about this little country.
To place third on the medal table — with two gold, seven silver, and one bronze — at the 2022 World Championships which ended Sunday in a blaze of glory for us, is extraordinary when put in the context of our population size and economic fortunes.
The United States, which placed first has a population of over 300 million people and is the only superpower in the world. Second place went to Ethiopia which, though economically deprived, has a population of over 120 million people.
Jamaica, with a mere three million people, placed ahead of the big ones like Great Britain, Germany, Canada, China, India, France, Italy, Spain — in other words, all countries with far greater populations and economic weight than our small developing country.
Of course, this is not the first time that we have had this spectacular achievement, but it is important to use this to help bolster our national self-confidence and to ponder about how we can harness this prowess to launch us further on the path to development.
It is simply stunning to realise that even as we produced a new world star in Miss Shericka Jackson, winner of the women's 200-metre sprint in the second-fastest time in history, we can still celebrate the phenomenal Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won a fifth 100-metre gold and soared into the stratosphere as the greatest female sprinter of all time.
We know that had things worked out the way we wanted it our medal haul would have been higher, given the unbeatable form that Mr Hansle Parchment took into the men's 110-metre hurdles final — but for a freak accident that injured his foot minutes before the start of the race.
On paper also, Jamaica looked set to take the women's 4x100-metre relay gold, but that too was not to be, as we ended with silver. It would not be Jamaica if there were not even a bit of controversy about the choice of runners. There is notably the argument that the decision-makers should have run Miss Brianna Williams, who had given the Jamaican team such a brilliant start and won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year. The view is that since every one agreed there was not enough time to practise at Oregon, her Tokyo experience would have been better utilised.
On the contrary, the question is how could Miss Kemba Nelson, who ran in Miss Williams' stead, be excluded after placing second and ahead of her at the Jamaica National Trials, and was still running well?
We are not inclined to speculate here, except to note that the coaching staff had to have had a perfectly logical reason for their decision and we trust that all the relevant factors were taken into account.
With all of that said, isn't it amazing that we have such depth in our women's relay team that we can spend time arguing about what seems to be such a trivial matter? To answer that, one only has to look at the wild celebrations by the third-placed team — Germany.
All of our athletes and team members are deserving of the heartiest congratulations for putting on a great show that brought immense pride to their nation.