Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Foster's Fairplay: Reward Cuthbert-Flynn

Published:Wednesday | March 16, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn

Olivia 'Babsy' Grange has returned to the country's new ministerial Cabinet in a familiar role. Sports will again have the benefit of her long-time exposure in that arena.

Her first visible move is praiseworthy. She paid a touching tribute to Jordan Foote, the footballer out of Holy Trinity High School, who sadly succumbed to the ravages of cancer, during which he had lost a leg. On his bereaved family's behalf, Foster's Fairplay says "Thank you, Minister."

On a brighter note, Champs is in the air. With its coming, there is the usual friendly, if at times raucous, crosstalk between supporters of the rival schools. Traditionally, the heat is a lot more intense with the face-offs within the boys' arena. Social media continues to be fertile soil for the raves and rants. Predictions are the domain of others a lot more qualified to engage in that activity, now fine-tuned to a science.

The usual clamour, including calls for transparency, surrounds the distribution of entry tickets. The five-day event continues to attract an audience which severely outstrips the capacity of the hosting facility. At some point, the powers that be shall be asked to give full account.

With the new Government's initial slate of executive positions released, Foster's Fairplay notes with disappointment (no pun intended) and dismay a glaring omission. No place has been found in her area of excellence for Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn. She is the second sporting personality of her calibre to venture into the oven of politics.

World icon, the late Herb McKenley, preceded her in the tenuous move and was twice roasted.

Cuthbert-Flynn, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics double sprint silver medallist, has shown admirable courage and commitment (gender restrictions bar the word 'cojones') in her consummate contribution to her country.

Follow this journalist to the 1995 IAAF World Championships in Gothenburg. After completing her individual sprint duties, the 100m finalist took ill and was hospitalised. In her mind, the supporting trio of Dahlia Duhaney, Beverly McDonald and Merlene Ottey needed her usual inspirational backstretch run to buttress their chances for gold in the sprint relay.

The St Thomas lass, her thoughts locked on a repeat gold, as achieved by the same quartet four years prior at the Tokyo World Champs, did what was to her the only thing.

She went from sickbed to track and a silver medal was forged in that crucible of sheer grit and determination, to make it Jamaica. This spoke to a rare quality of resilience and resolve to bounce back from adversity.

In Barcelona, her personal catalogue could have shown gold in the 4x100m relay. With Michelle Freeman on lead off, plus the other two girls from the Tokyo triumph, barring relay trauma, top spot looked good. Her second-leg straightaway flasher was stopped short with a hamstring injury that severely compromised the second handover. Jamaica were out.

The nation was rocked and moved to tears. The pain was intensified the following year with the Stuttgart World Championships. Recovery was slow and the void was filled with signs pointing her to the exit door from the sport. They sprang from the least expected of sources, some ideally positioned to enforce such a white flag hoisting.

She, however, survived and Gothenburg was as recounted. Her final hurrah, at her own pace, was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She bade farewell with sprint relay bronze, assisted by Freeman, a near-lame Nikole Mitchell and the perennial Ottey. What a Juliet! What a warrior! What a Jamaican!

She has stared down the barrel of guns held by thieving thugs. Only mention of her name saved her from a sad story. Now, at age 51, with the challenges of pregnancy, countering Zika virus precautions, she whips an incumbent who was super confident of almost automatic victory.

Where is the recognition? Where is the reward?

Consulted on her omission, she responded tersely: "Sorry ... I do not have any comment on that matter."

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