Laurie Foster: Supporting Cameron Blazers
Courtesy of track and field athlete mentor and considerably more, Hugh Scott, Foster's Fairplay was invited to support a fund-raising. The idea was to stir the pot on assistance for the Cameron Blazers Track Club.
Those associated with the sport will recognise Scott, a Calabar Old Boy, as someone who works behind the scenes to give nurture and sustenance to a project in which he believes. Without his permission, this journalist will say no more. Suffice to add that, from personal experience, his passion and commitment have mushroomed to give recognition and reward, which have proven to be of inestimable value to young athletes.
Cameron Blazers, the relatively new track and field learning institution, is founded and administered by 1983 Helsinki 400m World champion, Bertland Cameron. It was the inaugural staging of the prestigious event. Of those privileged to be listening to the BBC commentary, who can forget mention of "the boy from Spanish Town", so described one is sure with no intention or desire to demean or disrespect.
It was a moment of pride for Jamaica in an era where the ground work was just being laid for the multiple medal scenario that popped out at us, come Beijing 2008 and the (Usain) Bolt and Shelly (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) factor.
The following year came the Los Angeles Olympics. Expectations ran high. Cameron was at the top of the world in the 400m. In the semi-finals, he stormed out to settle a verbal and mental battle with the United States' number two man, Antonio McKay, who was talking up a storm about his pending encounter with our boy Bert.
Popular feeling is that the focus on the blabbermouth, McKay, led to that extra effort on the backstretch, result a pulled hamstring mid race and what should have been an end to his Olympics.
Vividly recalled, is the shout coming from a friend and freight forwarder, Delroy, at whose home in Florida the race was being watched: "He is coming back for them!"
Bert was fourth and qualified injury and all for the final two days later. The pain and disappointment of not being able to take his lane and repeat the previous year's gold medal performance still lingers for some. They form the basis of the wish for him to put his imprint on an event where the world has witnessed and welcomed his immense talent as a performer.
With all that history and the potent support in his corner, the former national record holder (44.50 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics) will have his challenges. He has had his comeuppance with detractors, which has been part of the politics of the sport. He is blessed to have in his camp a number of athletes who have already signalled their one-lap value on the global scene.
TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Coming to mind are Jermaine Gonzales, (national record holder from 2010 with 44.40); Javere Bell, national champion in 2013, 45.00); Jaheel Hyde, still a junior with a 400m hurdles personal best of 49.01 and reigning champion at that event and 110m hurdles at the World Junior Championships and Youth Olympics, respectively. There is also Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson, the 2008 national champion with a then career best of 50.05. Osaka World Championship 200m finalist, Marvin Anderson, now turned coach and administrator, will adapt to the crucial role as manager of the club's talent.
After a stint with the Racers Track Club, Bert is now steering his own ship. This must be the engine he needs to drive his own coaching future. Even with the tools he has already assembled, a lot more is required. There is a template of the ultimate in success established by his former employers, led by the inimitable Glen Mills and their counterparts down the road, in Stephen Francis' MVP. They did not attain their current lofty perch without strong financial backing.
Foster's Fairplay reaches out to Corporate Jamaica and Cameron's St Jago High School family, especially the super-active overseas-based chapters, to afford the platform that the Blazers need to move their effort to the next level.
Jamaica has blazed the trail in this event, starting with the Helsinki Olympics quartet of Arthur Wint, Les Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden in 1952.
If anyone is capable of bringing the country back to that level, Bert Cameron surely can.
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