Fri | Sep 22, 2017

The Wright View | Sportsmen/women brighten Independence Day celebrations

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Chris Gayle of Jamaica Tallawahs celebrating with fans at the end of the final at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, on Sunday.
Alia Atkinson
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As Jamaica celebrated its 54th year of Independence last Saturday, August sixth, it was our sportsmen and women who really put the "glow" on what seemed to me to be a very low-keyed day.

At approximately 1:55 a.m. on Saturday the 6th, the Jamaica Tallawahs T20 cricket team, led by the indefatigable and fashion pioneer, Chris Gayle, forced their way into the finals of the competition on the back of a performance from 'Superman' Andre Russell.

The Olympics in Rio got underway with the two Jamaican swimmers finishing second in their heats and medal hopeful Alia Atkinson progressing to the next round.

Sports have always been the panacea of a nation constantly struggling to find ways to combat the reality of life and lost opportunities.

On Sunday, the Tallawahs went on to demolish early favourites for the title, the Amazon Warriors from Guyana, and our swimming sensation Atkinson, qualified as the sixth fastest swimmer going came 54th in her event, bowing out with a smile, convinced that (with her help) Jamaican gymnasts now can realistically aspire to a future with an Olympic appearance a distinct possibility.

 

PLAGUED BY CONTROVERSY

 

The Olympics in Rio have been plagued by controversy after controversy ever since that city was awarded the 'privilege' of hosting the Games so many years ago. The cost of the preparation for the Games have been the subject of much derision and protests from native Brazilians and the health and safety of participants have been questioned by environmentalists, doctors, policemen and those experts who oversee course selection in sailing, rowing and cycling.

These "concerns" have been vindicated by reports of a boat in a race capsizing after colliding with a sofa and the reports of numerous falls in the cycling road race that resulted in the one-time leader of the female event being admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital after a fall. Fortunately, she is expected to have a full recovery.

The McLaren report on state-sponsored doping in Russia confirmed the banning of the athletics team form that country by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but in an inexplicable decision, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed other Russian athletes to participate, if their respective international sporting federations approved their participation.

Over the weekend, however, the International Paralympics Federation banned the Russians based mainly on the same McLaren report that the IOC apparently 'pooh-poohed'.

It remains a mystery to those of us who believe passionately in fighting for dope- free sport, as to how the head of the IOC and his board can continue to ride roughshod over the principles of dope-free sport.

 

MEDICAL INCOMPETENCE

 

Finally, the selection of Jamaica's and the world's two- time Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to carry the flag at the opening ceremony of the Games, confuses me.

Our sprint Queen has been battling a toe injury for at least nine months, with sotto voce comments about medical incompetence in coming to an early diagnosis and treatment swirling around in some circles.

Her coach has admitted that there is an issue regarding Fraser-Pryce's toe, confirming that orthotics have been used to alleviate her symptoms and that she trains in running shoes to minimise pain.

Then how come the medical and coaching team in Rio could consent to her walking with the flag in the Opening Ceremony, as well as literally spending hours on her feet, during what appeared to be a really dull (when compared to Beijing and London) Opening Ceremony?

With a world record 200-metre assault on his mind, as well as coming away with three gold medals at these Games, Usain Bolt obviously asked and received permission to forego that 'marathon'.

Some years ago at the World Cup in Athletics - held in Johannesburg, South Africa - the medical director of the Americas team was asked in a meeting to give his opinion re the choice of an athlete to carry the flag of the Americas at the Opening Ceremony.

His opinion at the time (which was accepted) was that he could not sanction any track and field athlete who was due to compete, to be subject to the 'agony' of the long march and standing in the stadium until the proceeding was completed.

My desperate hope is that Fraser-Pryce's 'marathon' will not affect her performance in the 100-metre finals this Saturday. Good luck Team Jamaica!

'Rio' in Half-Way Tree will be filled to capacity on Saturday evening.