Foster's Fairplay | Claude Bryan - Track and field's super agent
Foster's Fairplay recalls a time when one of the main stakeholders in track and field received little or no recognition in local circles. They were not allowed to have a firm grasp on things as they now enjoy. Officially known as athletes' representatives or agents, they carry branding by the world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and now play a pivotal role in the management of several aspects of the affairs of the athletes.
For well in excess of 20 years, former analyst on local radio, Claude Bryan, whose outfit, the On Track Management group, is based in the state of Georgia, United States of America, has performed the supportive role for a few of Jamaica's elite athletes.
Leading up to the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, this columnist had sought to join the ranks of these professionals.
Bryan, at the time, was part of a small group, who would offer advice and guidance in an area where others so qualified were known to keep that type of information very close to their chests. Their modus operandi was more akin to raiding a fledgling barn than to suggest ways to enhance its quality.
HUGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Without hesitation or reserve, Bryan provided the support that encouraged a new participant in the field to stay the course. The fact that other influences halted a positive advance should in no way be laid at his feet. For this new kid, it was a short stint, but proved to be a huge learning experience in the twists and turns of the sport, thankfully enabled by the constant stewardship afforded by a man who embraces the Christian faith.
Despite the professional achievements during the Don Quarrie/Merlene Ottey era, Jamaica had not yet transformed itself into the copious talent supply as it emerged at the Beijing Olympics of 2008. However, Bryan had set his sights and was ready to take advantage of the golden breakout of our sons and daughters. Veronica Campbell, as she was then, was his first acquisition of the quality that was his clear mandate. Of the same ilk, Bahamian Shaunae Miller and sprint hurdles king, Omar McLeod, were subsequently to follow. A trend of attracting and accepting excellence and remarkable personality traits - top-drawer material - had been established.
Recently, news broke that 100m hurdles world record holder, Kendra (Keni) Harrison had been drawn under the umbrella where some shining lights were already aglow. This undoubtedly places the man who has been giving thankless support to track and field athletes at all levels, among the best of the best in his chosen field. The class, charm and charisma that Harrison brings to the group are compelling and will surely embellish the image of an already outstanding aggregation of the world's best.
There is yet another feather in Bryan's cap that begs prominent mention. It accentuates his stature among the top performers in his craft. A tally of Agents whose charges copped the most gold medals in Rio recently, sees him very high on the ladder, rubbing shoulders with the most elite of practitioners. When given the well-earned tributes from this columnist for his outstanding work, his response, while steeped in humility, was a mere, "I am just a trying man."
TRUE SERVANT OF JAMAICA
At a time when the nation's athletes are being accorded National Honours for their global exploits and the recognition and respect they bring to the country, Foster's Fairplay calls on the powers that be, to take a serious look at the record of Claude Bryan. He has never been or is it expected will ever be one to draw attention to himself. That is left to those who have the insight and the will to let his tremendous success manifest itself through other channels.
Foster's Fairplay stands ready to sound the trumpet on the achievements of a true servant of Jamaica. Bryan has been through the trenches and manned the ramparts of an area in a sport where no quarter is given. It is sink or swim based on an ability to stay focused on a sworn mantra of which being dedicated and devoted to high principles, forms just a part.
With all that in mind, Foster's Fairplay sums it up. Let Claude Bryan be recognised for his work in Jamaica's most successful sport. Equally yes, but can there be anyone more deserving who is still to be honoured?
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