Sunshine Girls get standing ovation at Gibson MCook Relays
THERE'S ONE thing that can be said about Jamaicans ... they love a fighter, a determined spirit and perseverance. No more is that demonstrated than inside the National Stadium during an athletics meet.
No matter the athlete - local or foreign, school or institution, if the person on the track is finishing dead last, if they have to drag themselves across the finish line - the crowd will cheer; and some have even received standing ovations.
It makes for a very romantic story. And Jamaicans sure love themselves some Sunshine Girls.
At Saturday's Gibson McCook Relays, the world number four-ranked national senior netball team participated in the women's clubs and institutions 4x400m, and despite finishing well behind the rest of the field, received more resounding cheers than race winners, University of Technology, who clocked a meet record 3:29.87.
The team, comprising goal shooter Vangelee Williams, centre Adean Thomas, defender Malysha Kelly, and defender Shanice Beckford, looked impressive in 4:07.94.
Kelly told The Gleaner that while they are not used to running a sprint relay, they employ the same muscle groups in training.
"It's not like it is completely new coming into this, but it's coming out of my comfort zone, and I think it's something that will help us on court in terms of speed.
"We felt the burn. In training, we had to do something different, in terms of sprinting at a longer level, and after the race, one of my teammates (Williams) went down. I think it affected her more than anyone of us, but you can see the difference that we make doing a 400m as against training for court," Kelly said.
Kelly was inspired by the crowd reaction to the team's first track meet.
"Netball is known over Jamaica, and I know the Jamaican crowd loves us, even if we are in last. I know they love determination, so seeing our team out there determined to finish, determined to finish healthy and competing."
The team used the race as part of their preparations for this year's Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in August.
The team finished fourth at the 2011 WNC in Singapore, and Kelly said anxiety is now building as they hope to do better 'Down Under'.
"The last time coming so close. Right now in training, you do get more anxious, more edgy. We want to increase our ranking because we know we are fourth right now; we are not far behind. It's very nerve-wracking knowing that it's super close, and preparing for it. The team is doing everything possible to do their best at this world tour," she said.