Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Heart of a Champion

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMDevon Dick, Contributor

After the Jamaican women won the gold medal over the United States team in the 4x400m relay, Novelene Williams Mills, who ran the anchor leg, when asked what was the cause of the team's victory, said, 'When you have the heart of a champion, you run like a champion'. That was an apt description of the performance of her teammates Christine Day, Sherica Jackson, and Stepahanie McPherson. They ran with the heart of a champion, showing spirit, determination, and wisdom in overtaking the North Americans. Williams Mills' career will be defined by that run, her best time and effort for the championships.

Equally, Javon Francis ran with the heart of a champion to run the fastest leg by any runner in the race, and more important, doing his personal best and one of the best anchor legs for Jamaica in the men's 4x400m relay race. It is only someone with the heart of a champion that would have been audacious enough to attempt moving from fifth to overtake all.

Unfortunately, many do not understand what Francis did. For example, one letter writer in The Gleaner on September 7 failed to understand that Francis followed Novelene's script and ran with the heart of a champion. In addition, Francis ran similarly to Alix Felix of the USA, who, in the 400m, went out fast - when some said she went out too fast - and won gold in an excellent time. Therefore, when the writer said, "I think if Javon had adopted this approach, he probably would not have run the fastest time but most certainly would have been among the medals", this was speculation, and in fact, it is impossible for Francis not to run as fast and get a bronze, silver, or gold medal! If Francis had run slower, he would have been further back, not further forward. If he had run slower, it does not follow that the other runners would run slower. It has to be assumed that they would run a similar race. Furthermore, the anchor leg for the US female 4x400m relay did not go out fast and lost the race.

Once someone has done his best time ever, it makes no sense speculating that he could have done better if he had used a different approach. It is like a batsman in a game of cricket who, needing 40 runs to win off the last over, hits six sixes in the over, which is the best he could do, and people criticise him, saying that if he had adopted a different approach, then he could have thrown off the bowler and got a no-ball and hit seven sixes.

 

FRANCIS NEEDS AN APOLOGY

However, the worst comment came from another letter writer on September 5, who said that the young man "ran like an ass, and not a trained human". I did not know that anyone could write such unkind, undeserving, and unfounded words. Francis, who represented us, deserves at least an apology.

After the foul-up that did not allow Nesta Carter to run in the 100m race, Carter ran with the heart of a champion to start the 4x100 men's relay team, which led to a gold medal. Someone in JAAA management should resign and apologise to Carter and the IAAF. Carter was done an injustice and the IAAF was blamed by JAAA officials. Carter deserves monetary compensation from the JAAA for this travesty.

We must commend our athletes for representing us well, each running with the heart of a champion.

P.S.: A reader, Gary Grant, pointed out that Sergey Bubka is Ukrainian and not Russian as claimed in my article two weeks ago. Another reader, Ishmael Robertson, pointed out that the same article failed to mention the contribution of the coaches in the success at the Beijing World Championships.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.