Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | History beckons

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Usain Bolt seen during a Jamaica team practice session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce runs at a training session for MVP athletes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Foster's Fairplay has for years been locked in many controversial situations. During the exchanges, the column has engaged the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) on burning issues, as they pertain to their custody and governance of the nation's most successful sport.

It would not be inaccurate to say that the status of being the JAAA's watchdog, has been earned, given the private calls for increased engagement. With all this in mind, a truce is hereby called. Nothing but total commitment and undiluted support is mandated as our track and field athletes take on the world, starting this Friday, at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

The Jamaican psyche at this time surrounds the hunt of medals. Cognisant of the nature of the terrain and the likely setbacks to frustrate dreams, this columnist is wary of predictions. A case in point is the early return home, still not lucidly explained, of sprint hurdler Hansle Parchment, the defending bronze medallist from London 2012 and a likely prospect for even a more elevated podium spot.

 

PHENOMENALLY GIFTED

 

The overwhelmingly acclaimed leader in the hunt for precious metal is the phenomenally gifted Usain Bolt. If he too, for whatever reason, goes missing or mysteriously misfires, his status as a legend remains intact.

His unblemished record - six events on Olympic duties, all ending in gold and world records - 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay - cements his position in a manner that is incontestable.

The story is told of a foreign visitor to a Brazilian sports museum. After looking at all the displays and artefacts commemorating the country's greatest ever, topped by the acknowledged universal best, the footballer, Pele, the question was asked: "Who was Brazil's greatest sportsman?"

The guide quickly responded: "The racing driver, Ayrton Senna."

The puzzled visitor, then enquired: "Why not Pele?"

The quick response was: "No Sir, Pele, to Brazil, is an institution."

So it is with Usain St Leo Bolt.

In Rio, to expect a second repeat of the triple strike is not farfetched. Barring unforeseen mishap, it can be chalked up as mission accomplished.

With so many ifs and maybes, going into this edition of arguably the greatest show on earth, it would be a brave pundit who would take a dip into the waters of a forecast.

 

SENTIMENTAL CHOICE

 

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce must be the sentimental choice among her countryfolk to take gold in the women's 100m. It would be the first three-peat in the event for all time.

The USA's Wyomia Tyus (1964/1968) and Gail Devers (1992/1996) also recorded double wins. However, with or without the hairstyle diva's injury challenges and quality preparation shortfall emanating, the awesome presence of the new girl, Elaine Thompson, with an unmolested 10.70 at her country's trials, continues to hover.

Thompson's denial of a berth in the line-up for the event at the Worlds in Beijing last year will only sharpen the appetite, and indeed hunger, to strut her stuff at what is perceived to be the more prestigious level. All things considered and with a fit and ready to roll Fraser-Pryce - not discounting the threat of the Dutch girl, Dafne Schippers - it could be the event on which to salivate on the track and field calendar.

The brightest lights have been focused on the new revelation in men's sprint hurdling, Omar McLeod, from the inception of the Diamond League season.

Wins in Doha, Shanghai and Eugene with times marginally above or below the event's magical benchmark, 13.00 seconds, spoke to invincibility. But Monaco and a Belgian meet brought falls that have dimmed the earlier optimism. Once he sorts out that early race uncertainty, the golden eye should rekindle.

Of the four relays, three permeate the atmosphere with the aroma of gold. The women's 4x400m, coming off their Beijing World Championships victory, must have a live chance to repeat. That so, with the USA sure to miss the traditional inspirational run of their main girl, Jamaica-born Sanya Richards-Ross.

It will be ding dong as the sprint relay squad attempts to topple the trio of 10.7's as exhibited at the US trials. The Americans' world record of 40.82, last time around, should be untouched.

The men's 4x100m is as simple as this; baton changes successfully negotiated, Jamaica wins - world record? A live possibility.

Go Jamaica. History awaits in Rio.

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