Sat | Sep 23, 2017

The Wright View | Jamaica confirms sprint superiority

Published:Tuesday | August 16, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 100-metre final on Sunday.

On Saturday and Sunday, Jamaica confirmed its superiority as the sprint capital of the world.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the winner of the women's 100 metres in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, lined up in the finals in Rio, seeking to become the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic sprint titles.

Just 10.71 seconds later, it was another Jamaican who won - Elaine Thompson from Banana Ground in Manchester - making sure that no other athlete from any other country in the last three Olympics could claim the title of fastest woman.

Similarly, on Sunday, Bolt lined up in the final of the men's 100 metres, having been victorious in 2008 and 2012. No other athlete had ever won three consecutive 100m titles at the Olympics.

Well, in Rio, Brazil, in 2016, 9.81 seconds after the start of the race, it was a Jamaican - Bolt - who crossed the finish line first.

Never before in the history of these Games has any male done anything like that.

 

'HOW COME?'

 

To underline the superiority of sprinters, it was revealed that of the 24 runners in the men's 100- metre semi-finals, seven were born in Jamaica. The question, 'how come?' will continue to attract the interest of athletes from all over the world, as genetics, diet, (yam?) and competing in the annual athletics competition for boys and girls (known as Champs) all contribute to our prowess.

However, the fact that the majority of our world beaters in track and field were not standouts at Boys and Girls' Champs would seem to suggest that having one - or preferably both - parents being Jamaica-born is definitely an advantage if your quest is to be a world-class athlete.

That truism should spur those in charge of our resources to seriously consider ensuring that every Jamaican child has access and an opportunity to be involved in a structured sporting activity that can identify and enhance talent that could never be discovered if there is no sport in schools.

The motto of the G.C. Foster College of Sport and Physical Education is 'A Sound Mind in a Sound Body', articulating the fact that a combination of sports and academics is essential for producing well-rounded, educated young people.

I can see the continuity, or passing of the baton in female athletics, but I get worried when I look for the replacements of Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and the big man himself, Usain Bolt. The next generation of male sprinters seems to be rushed into greatness, as they are pushed into competing over and over again with the resultant burnout and diminishing returns of performance.

It is now full time for the country to have a real stake in the development of our sportsmen and sportswomen. The only way to do that is to support and regulate athletics clubs where children identified with talent for a specific sport can go after regular school hours to hone their skills. We must not allow the athletic prowess that Jamaicans now exhibit on the world stage to become like cricket, from the best Test nation in the world for years to number nine in the world, excluded from lucrative international competition because of our low ranking.