Astounding profiles in gold, silver and bronzeSunday, August 01, 2021
Jamaica's astounding 100-metre medal haul of gold, silver and bronze yesterday by our awesome threesome — Mrs Elaine Thompson-Herah, Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Miss Shericka Jackson — at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is another superlative statement by a small country of three million people.
Superlative because it is the third time Jamaica has taken all the medals in an Olympic final, following the 100-metre gold, silver, silver snatch by Misses Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, and Kerron Stewart in 2008 and the 200-metre gold, silver, bronze by Messrs Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and Warren Weir in 2012.
Yesterday's haul was only the latest in a glorious history of track at the Olympics starting in 1948 and arriving at the pinnacle of global athletics when Mr Usain Bolt set the world record in the 100 metres and 200 metres for men.
These achievements are fantastic and make all Jamaicans proud, but their importance is more than the glory of sport. We suggest that they are a sign of Jamaica's development and incontrovertible proof that it is not an accident or an exception.
It is also a sign of our capacity to realise our potential to achieve the highest levels of economic development by learning the lessons of the success of track and applying it in other aspects of national life.
The ingredients for successful development as evidenced in sports are:
First, the deep talent with which Jamaica is undoubtedly blessed, surpassing some bigger and more well off countries. Talent is everywhere, judging by the origins and early life of our track stars. This means development happens when the system is inclusive and gives everybody a chance.
Second, the tradition, habit, and practice of excellence, dating back to the 1948 Olympics are ingrained in the culture of the country; like Jamaican rum, bauxite, tourism, and coffee being the best in the world. It is the same reason that Brazil is great in football.
Third, identifying talent through an established system and nurturing it through training and competition. Jamaica's boys' and girls' championships — one of the biggest and best high school track and field events in the world — is the showcase for the finest of this talent.
Fourth, the indigenous human infrastructure of development. Jamaica has some of the finest track coaches in the world, two notable standouts being Messrs Stephen Francis and Glen Mills. The depth, scope, and expertise of local coaching mean that our athletes don't have to rely on going abroad to develop their talent to world- class.
GC Foster College has been important, and former Olympians turned coaches have contributed immensely. Depending on the courses they wish to pursue, our athletes can participate in sport while pursuing a degree from The University of the West Indies on the University of Technology, Jamaica.
Fifth, using our local successes as mentors and to inspire youngsters to say we can do it despite our challenging circumstances as a country, in the same way so many others have triumphed as outstanding Olympians.
Sixth, the professionalisation of the sport into a business, operating all aspects at global standards to attract more world-class track and field events in Jamaica which run like clockwork and pull in the world's top athletes.
That's what yesterday's events in Tokyo mean and should mean to this country little but tallawah as we are.