Sat | Jun 24, 2017

The master of suspense

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2015 | 9:00 AMLaurie Foster, Contributor
Herb McKenley
Arthur Wint
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Foster's Fairplay is frequently verbally attacked for what some deem to be a serious defect in telling its stories. The allegation is that this columnist, with disturbing regularity, leaves the audience high and dry.

While accepting the criticism and providing there has not, to date, been any such complaint in activities elsewhere, the feeling is 'mission accomplished'. The lead to whet the appetite of a reader, pending a full roll out at a later date, comes from early exposure to the cinema. It was a strategy used by the Hollywood film director and producer, Englishman Sir Alfred Hitchcock, and which earned him the title 'The master of suspense'.

With all that in mind, in addition to "cries for help" from Jamaica's top performers in track and field, look out soon for the nation's 'best kept secret' surrounding sporting activities. It could, and in due respect for support coming from elsewhere, turn a corner hitherto not even approached, much less negotiated. To refer to it as huge would be the understatement of the millennium. But, come the time, come the revelation.

 

JA's prominence on the global stage

The recent IAAF World Championships was another wide awakener. At the 1948 London Olympics, Jamaica had kicked off what was soon to become its prominence on the global stage. Arthur Wint led the pack with gold (400m) and silver (800m). Herb McKenley had to be content (what a euphemism?) with a silver (400m), and the 4x400m relay team with George Rhoden and Leslie Laing added to that illustrious duo, faltered with a mid-race injury to Wint, seen later limping from the track in a whole lot more than mere physical pain. That quartet had set the stage for future glory and worldwide reverence, accorded our heroes. Quoting from the famous poem, Abou Ben Adhem by English essayist and poet, James Henry Leigh Hunt, "May their tribe increase."

Come Helsinki, four years later, there was more to be heard from the faltering foursome. Gold was their prize at a still well remembered Games. This was after Rhoden, running from the then-outside lane, number six, put it over an inspired McKenley to take gold over his chief rival's repeat silver. The 'Herb Mac' upbeat had come from an 'on the wire' and highly disputed to this day - surprise silver that catapulted the winner, USA's Lindy Remigino, into the pages of history. The legendary McKenley, even moreso later, as a coach, had only entered the shorter race to 'stretch his legs' for the 400m title assault.

 

supremacy of black Jamaicans

With all that roll out of excellent performances on a stage, previously limited to white Europeans and Americans of varied colour, there is a story never to be forgotten. It is a direct pointer to the supremacy of black Jamaicans, who have now interwoven themselves into the fabric of world track and field. Beijing 2015 was another extension of the five successive global event multi-medal scenario that has strutted with such elegance and Èlan across the frontiers of the sport. It had its genesis in the winning ways of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Veronica Campbell-Brown at the 2008 Olympic Games, set in the same Chinese city. Now, the phenomenon has, for Jamaicans, scattered worldwide, caused pleasure, passion and the pride of belonging to something quite special.

Next year, Rio de Janeiro and the XXXI Olympics beckon. It promises to be all that the extra special moment entails. The city remains the unquestionable mecca for a constantly migrating mass of magical footballers. That temporarily set aside, its people will take timeout from their single-minded focus on the beautiful game. They anxiously anticipate August 12 to 21, when the most prominent crowd-puller, athletics, will be hosted in the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium. The fact that this most imposing site is named after an icon of world football adds to the stark truth - this is football country.

Foster's Fairplay, still mesmerised by Beijing 2015, is lustily singing the inspirational lyrics coming from the classic, Islands In The Stream. The song is written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees and sung by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983.

"The message is clear, this could be the year for the real thing."

All you continually amazing athletes, let it happen for Brand Jamaica.

lauriefoster2012@gmail.com.