Hubert Lawrence: Sometimes we forget
One national icon reminds us not to forget our past. We do anyway. The year that closes today contained many important sporting anniversaries, and all of them have passed quietly. It's a real pity.
The schoolboy football season has passed with hardly a whisper of the Kingston College (KC) team that dominated the various competitions in 1964 and 1965. Captained in the former year by KC legend Tony Keyes and by Dennis Johnson in the latter, these purple-and-whites went undefeated for two whole seasons. In fact, they won every game they played en route to consecutive Manning Cup/Walker Cup/Olivier Shield triple without a single draw to mar their record.
In 1985, Stephen 'The Don' Hylton won the second of his three Caribbean table tennis singles titles.
In 1990, Jamaica performed a miracle on grass in hockey. Led by supremely skilled Sharon Malcolm and coached by Michelle Holt, our ladies went to the Central American and Caribbean Games and beat host country Mexico on penalties in the final. Their gold medal is Jamaica's highest achievement in that sport.
Just 10 years ago, Asafa Powell took the 100 metre world record to all of us with a run of 9.77 seconds in Athens. It was the first time a Jamaican had held the electronically timed world record in this blue-ribbon event.
Later that year, at the World Championships in Helsinki, Trecia-Kaye Smith bounded to first place in the triple jump to win our first gold medal in a field event at the World or Olympic level. That was a glorious moment.
These milestones have passed quietly, even though many of those who did those great deeds are still with us. They need not be just symbols of the past, but their experiences may help illuminate the way forward. At the very least, they can inspire those who aim for the heights.
It's December 31 and, therefore, too late to meaningfully celebrate those historic moments in 2015. Fortunately, there's a bright side, sort of. Two major milestones mature like gilt-edged securities in the new year. Donald Quarrie (DQ) crowned a glorious career with a gold-medal run in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. DQ took the 200 metres days after a close runner-up finish in the 100 and became Jamaica's first Olympic champion in a sprint event.
Tweny years later, in the Atlanta Olympic Games, Deon Hemmings broke the meet record twice en route to a defeat of Kim Batten and Tonja Buford, then the fastest two female 400 metre hurdlers of all time. Despite brilliant efforts by Merlene Ottey, Grace Jackson and Juliet Cuthbert, Hemmings earned the honour of being the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Like Quarrie's victory two decades earlier, the Hemmings success is a landmark in Jamaica's sporting history.
We can't do much about the things we've already forgotten. One thing is clear. No person or nation should live in the past, but great gold-medal moments like those in 1976 and 1996 shouldn't pass too quietly.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.