Let's move to improve and expand sports facilities
The National Stadium

As the rain poured close to start time of the Racers Grand Prix in late afternoon Saturday we suspect organisers had their hearts in their mouths.

As it turned out, the weather cleared and the fair-sized crowd at the National Stadium got their money's worth with an array of stars turning in wonderful performances.

Surely, no praise can be too high for the effort put in by the likes of Jamaica's Ms Shericka Jackson, Nigeria's Ms Tobi Amusan, and Messrs Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa), Noah Lyles (USA), and Christian Coleman (USA) on a wet track.

Spectators at the stadium and the multitude watching on television and other digital platforms were equally impressed with performances from the up-and-coming — none more so than former World Junior 400-metre champion Mr Antonio Watson.

Running in the 400m 'B' race, the 21-year-old Mr Watson, who has also excelled in the 200 metres, sped to a lifetime best 44.75 to win and spark dreams of even greater glory.

Another 21-year-old Jamaican, Mr Zandrian Barnes, impressed in the 400m 'A' race. Tugged along by the imperious Mr van Niekerk, who set a meet record 44.21, Mr Barnes crossed the line in a personal best 44.90.

Mr Tyler Mason, 27, a former global age-group silver medallist, who is bouncing back from injury, raised eyebrows by winning the 110-metre hurdles in 13.14 seconds.

Mr Kadrian Goldson, 25, kept his form well in the 100 metres 'A' race for a lifetime best 10.08 seconds, pushing Mr Coleman all the way. The latter finished in 10.03 seconds.

These and other performances by younger, little-known Jamaican athletes surely provided plenty of optimism.

Saturday's event should have also focused attention on ways to reap greater economic rewards from Jamaica's rich sports culture.

We agree with the legendary Mr Usain Bolt who wants more encouragement for events such as the Racers track meet and sports in general.

Quite apart from the potential for economic benefits, Mr Bolt reminds us that sport "is a joy and it makes people happy…" That's something we dare not discount in a society struggling to deal with crime, antisocial behaviour, extreme socio-economic problems, and a high degree of hopelessness.

We have previously suggested that an aspect the Government should explore is the building out of sporting infrastructure.

We believe that with improved economic performance in recent years — not least praiseworthy improvement in the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio — the Government is now much better placed to do so.

The badly run-down Montego Bay Sports Complex and the yet to be fully developed Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium, just outside Falmouth, come readily to mind.

Also, there is pressing need for a modern facility in south central Jamaica, not just for track and field, but for other disciplines, not least football and cricket.

The Government's National Sports Policy speaks to encouraging "…greater participation in sport as a means of enhancing intellectual and physical health and facilitating the pursuit of excellence…" facilitating "…unique opportunities created by the hosting and participating in international sport competitions, and… contribute to economic growth by strengthening Brand Jamaica in the global marketplace".

Those words need to be translated into deeds.

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