Laurie Foster: Race for Olympics heating up
The traditional magic and mystique of Olympic year is once again raring its attractive head.
With just about nine weeks to go for the National Championships (Trials), already, a few athletes are positioning themselves, drawing for their bow and taking aim.
The bullseye is a seat on the plane to the widely acknowledged ultimate in sports participation, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in the Brazilian city of Rio.
For this blessed nation, with the eye-catching attraction of the sports' world-governing body, the professional circuit, yet unfolded, promises of spectacular performances are rife.
After missing two World Championships through troubling injury, Yohan Blake has stormed back. He has publicly dropped a name that identified him as a monstrous and despicable creature, which he is not.
The former St Jago High School sprinter and current national under-20 record holder (10.11+1.2) blasted a then 100m world-leading 9.95 legal at the UTech-MVP Classic on April 16.
It stands as arguably the most compelling boost of confidence and satisfaction levels for a country trying to put its best feet forward leading into the great spectacle in the South American continent this August.
Downgrade the Blake impact a bit to Simone Facey's 11.00 at the Tom Jones Memorial last weekend. This, too, must be a morale strengthener to an athlete who has been constantly flogged in more recent times by many she considered to be her inferior in junior track.
The 2009 Berlin WC 4x100m gold medallist has sent an early indication of her path to Rio. The mark will earn her lanes at the very top of the competition ladder where there is no dodging by the world's fastest as exists with the other gender. Yet, it is early days and one is not aware of the quality or sustainability of her programme. Suffice it to say, in the absence of this knowledge, to the fringe-based honours suspects at Trials: "Watch out, VCB, Sherone (Simpson), Kerron (Stewart) and company, Simone might have been sleeping, but is now fully awake."
The advance of the nation's throwing programme cannot escape mention in a Rio context. Foster's Fairplay will continue to carry the flag for coaches/pioneers of excellence in that traditionally ignored area.
Julian Leonard Robinson and Michael Vassell have torched the consciences of the movers and shakers of the sport in the local arena. Their charges have been crashing parties in both genders.
The new, and much appreciated by a few, wellness in discus and shot put is contagious. It has spread to the Edwin Allen and Petersfield High school models.
Foster's Fairplay, on that limited mention, is hearing legitimate calls reminiscent of the soul classic by the group Champagne - "How about us?"
Yes, the template has extended to other camps.
However, the point to be made is that the world scene has been invaded in these hitherto peripheral disciplines and the two coaches mentioned can take a proverbial bow.
As MVP's Paul Francis, himself part of a game-changing group, said on Facebook recently, words to the effect of: "Why stop at the World Junior level? Go for the Olympics."
Let us then see if the throwing contingent of (Odayne) Richards, (Jason) Morgan, (Federick) Dacres, (Traves) Smikle and company can inspire the new discus national Under-20 record holder and Vassell-conditioned Shanice Love to reach for Rio.
With all that jockeying for team selection in store, the fans' taste buds are already well moistened. The intensity of the Diamond League and all that it brings to the fore will only be more enticing and threatens to sweeten the competition brew even further.
Looking at the pending action, on field and track, one learned critic, referring to the Jamaica Trials, opined: "It will be like a mini-Olympics. Another, speaking in less ornate terms, confided: "It nah guh normal."
Foster's Fairplay believes that those predictions could fall short at crunch time, June 30 to July 3.
For feedback: Email email@example.com