Letter of the day: Don’t compare Jamaica and region's athletes
This is an open letter to Orville Higgins.
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read with interest your column on the Carifta Games in which you queried the wisdom of Jamaica's continued participation in the games.
Your sentiments on Jamaica's perennial domination of the games is well taken. But does that fact justify Jamaica's search for better competition elsewhere? I remember as a young schoolboy here in Barbados reading with deep pride of the exploits of Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden and Les Laing. Later, just to see Herb in the flesh was a privilege, so deeply did I admire that great athlete. The triumphs of succeeding athletes and the incomparable Usain Bolt (whom I had the privilege of seeing burn the track at the Barbados National Stadium as a stripling) and company is built on the legacy of Mr McKenley and company.
We in the rest of the Caribbean use Jamaica as the yardstick in judging our athletes' improvement and welcome the challenge of competing against your best youth year after year. It brings the best out of our athletes. Just look at the results and realise the inaccuracy in insinuating that it is infra dig for your athletes to compete against other Caribbean athletes.
Indeed, the record shows that the success of Bahamian, T&T, Barbadian and OECS athletes, however limited, in some events do invalidate your implied assertion of complete Jamaican superiority. You mentioned Michael O'Hara. Is that the same chap who lost to Mario Burke of Barbados this year? He must have been tired after Champs at home.
UNFAIR TO COMPARE
And what about the outstanding performances of another talented athlete, 15-year-old Mary Fraser, also from Barbados? Would you not agree that she benefited from running against your stellar athletes? And did your athletes learn anything from running against her?
I venture to say that it is unfair to compare the overall standard of other Caribbean athletics systems with yours in Jamaica, notwithstanding the occasional success of non-Jamaicans. Tradition, proper organisational structure, population size and, of course, coaching are superior factors in Jamaica's favour. Perhaps it would have been better for you to do a comparative study on the performances at all Carifta Games to show how Jamaica's continued presence has stimulated improvements in the other territories.
Christ Church, Barbados