Jamaica’s athletics successes and the international response

Challenging small islands
Since Bolt demolished the field at the Beijing Olympics there has been consternation at the global level. Many self-proclaimed pundits of sport have sought to raise concern about the phenomenal individual that he is.
One is not certain of whether these critics have taken the time to investigate the way in which the school system and its highly competitive nature has facilitated the search for talented Jamaicans in an effort to hold fast to the proud track and field tradition of that Caribbean country.
It does not matter what Jamaicans may themselves think of the rest of the region, they are a part of the Caribbean and the country is small when compared to the rest of the world.
Bolt’s achievements and the consternation they have caused must also be seen in tandem with the achievements of the MVP athletes at the same Olympics and Veronica Campbell who trains in Florida. For some of the more advanced industrialised nations these achievements constitute a very bitter pill to swallow and hence the search for answers in the only avenue that some are accustomed to – drugs. It must be drugs. Maybe it is in the food.
Throughout the pre-athletics period of the Beij
ing Olympics there were many who felt that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) was deliberately targeting the Jamaicans. This did not deter the Jamaicans and they won medals galore.
We live in a world where it appears a criminal offence to be small and poor, even relatively so. Small countries are supposedly doomed to be beggar maids of the international community. Our achievements in cricket and the entry of the 3Ws – Weekes, Worrell and Walcott, the emergence of Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, Charles Griffith, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Winston Davis, Colin Croft, Curtly Ambrose have created havoc in the sport. Vivian Richards showed the world a new approach to batting while Brian Lara revealed a mastery that has not been seen since Don Bradman in terms of the extensive and expansive repertoire of strokes and mastery with the bat he brought to the game.
For years it has been of concern to the global sporting community that small poor nations could be so replete with talent as to command some sporting disciplines and stand tall among them.
Our peoples of the Caribbean are apt to underestimate the achievements of our sporting heroes and underplay their significance to us as a people and to our region in the international community.
There must be no surprises in the desire of some from the more advanced nations to find reasons for our sporting successes. But this must serve as a source of inspiration for our parents, teachers and leaders at every level to instil confidence in our children and nation that we can do what is possible because we are who we are, a Caribbean people.