Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | 200m clash took centre stage

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 1:16 AMLaurie Foster
Elaine Thompson grits her teeth and finds something extra to outlast her great rival, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, and win the women’s 200m final at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This week, Foster’s Fairplay is trapped in a reflective mode, looking at the sporting achievements that commanded most attention during the year past. This columnist does not claim, as was the case in formative years, to have a keen eye on all the games that people play in this talent-blessed country.

There is no intention to ignore or discriminate against performances that are worthy of recognition and mention. It is simply a matter of where the interest is most compelling. As such, the spotlight will be on cricket, netball and, of course, track and field.

At the Rio Olympics, the main act was whether the already-legendary Usain Bolt would complete the unprecedented treble of triple gold medals in the sprinting events in what was to be his fourth visit to the accepted Greatest Show on Earth. He had global exposure at this level, starting with Athens 2004, but the road to fame and fortune came with Beijing (2008) and London (2012).

Side acts would include sprinting queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce attempting her own triple, having taken gold in the 100m at the two previous stagings. As great an achievement that both would be, the clash between Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers over 200m took centre stage in this corner.

Despite outstanding times (10.92 and 10.84) in the shorter sprint as the Beijing World Championships approached in the previous year, Thompson was denied the chance to flex her muscles and match strides with the other leading contenders, including Fraser-Pryce and the Dutchwoman. It was publicly felt, with much disgust, that it was a move by Thompson’s handlers to keep her away from her Jamaican teammate, who eventually won. Foster’s Fairplay held the view that her proven visionary MVP coach had ideas of a 21.6 clocking in the 200m, thought by many to be highly improbable. What was also mentioned as part of the agenda, since the apparent plan was for her to compete in a single individual event, was this: Why get only a gold and a silver in the 100m and not two gold medals, as a Thompson win over the longer race was envisaged. She did in fact achieve the expected time, but was beaten to the line by the rampaging Schippers.

SPORTING HIGHLIGHT

All that intrigue gave rise to the anticipation of Rio gold, as anyone close to the sport would know that coach Stephen Francis would engineer some of his magic to have her better her chief rival, who had taken the Beijing title. That win was, for this columnist, the track and field highlight of 2016.

As mentioned in an earlier column, Jamaica’s cricket seems to be poised on a pleasant path. This is in reference to some emerging talent in the batting department. As someone who has witnessed talent come and go over the last 60 years, this columnist is extremely gratified at this development. Opener John Campbell and another bright prospect in Brandon King appear destined for transition to the international level. However, an appetite for bigger scores must be cultivated and maintained.

Given his long-standing desire to give something back to the game that made him famous, it is suggested by Foster’s Fairplay that someone like the retired former Jamaican and West Indies stroke player, the classy Lawrence Rowe, be consulted along these lines. It is an avenue worthy of consideration in order to enhance the abilities of the nation’s batsmen. Jamaica’s netballers, the Sunshine Girls, bouncing back from sad tales of a wretched New Zealand tour, provided another high point of the year. More could be said on the negative side, but savouring an outstanding 2-1 away series victory against England’s Roses is that on which focus is placed. It warmed the hearts of the fans who were justified in thinking that the performances up to then were not worth the energy and enthusiasm that were afforded them.

There were other sports, although dear to the hearts of our people, that have escaped mention. The administrators know why. This is a call to the stakeholders to tend to the wounds post-haste, and avoid permanent scars that will be a discredit to the efforts that have been expended.

Jamaica needs to shine on all sporting fronts.

Email : lauriefoster 2012@gmail.com