Sat | Aug 19, 2017

The Wright View | 2017 promises much, but will it deliver?

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2017 | 2:00 AM
Usain Bolt (second right) with other members of Jamaica’s gold medal-winning sprint relay team in 2008 in Beijing. From left are Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater.

The 2017 calendar of events for track and field at the World level starts with the World Indoor Championships in March, followed by the World Relays in April in The Bahamas. However, it is the IAAF World Championships in August, in London, that is the main focus of athletes.

Already, we have seen our stars posting world-leading times and distances leading up to what we hope will be medal-producing performances in August. The series of development meets for our children are continuing apace, with coaches bemoaning the paucity of meets, while the governing body, ISSA, counters this criticism by pointing out (quite correctly) that the calendar of events for 2017 was prepared in conjunction with input from coaches and school administrators.

The Digicel Grand Prix Series is a welcome addition to the calendar, as the added incentives of cash and scholarships to outstanding athletes and schools ensure fierce competition and outstanding performances. What is to be questioned, however, is the seemingly regular appearance of athletes in bandages taking part in these development meets. Injured children should be allowed to fully recover from their injury BEFORE returning to active competition. The health of the child so injured MUST take precedence over the possibility of qualifying points. The coaches of these children are, however, well trained and should know the importance of 'peaking', with pre-determined targets in mind. That being so, I suppose that the fear that some of the unusual and mind-boggling performances of the youngsters on show since the beginning of the year may be cases of peaking too early, may be unfounded. If these children are not peaking too early, then the 2017 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships may be another year of multi-record-breaking performances!

The preparation of our adult athletes similarly seems to be on track for medal-winning performances on the world stage. Already, we have visual evidence that the world's fastest human, Usain Bolt, is progressing satisfactorily in his quest for a commanding performance in the World Championships in August. Our hero has maintained that he intends to retire from athletics after the World Championships and, as a nation, we all hope that another triple is on his mind and on the cards.

 

World leaders

 

In the field events, the top two world-leading discus throws are held by Jamaicans. Travis Smikle, with a throw of 64.64 in January, has only been bettered (twice) by our own Fedrick Dacres, whose throw of 68.7 in January was bettered in February with a throw of 68.88 metres.

Olympic gold medallist Omar McLeod is also on track to repeat his gold-medal performance over the hurdles in August. Already, he has done 7.46 over the barriers in 60m and has run a surprising 20.48 in a 200-metre race indoors.

FLOW ambassador and Olympic double-gold medallist Elaine Thompson just ran a world-leading 6.98 seconds over 60m in an indoor race in Birmingham.

The appeal of Olympian Nesta Carter for his disqualification from the 4x100-metre relay in the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been officially lodged at the Court of Arbitration for Sports. Readers may recall that Carter's urine sample, given up on the day prior to the relay finals in 2008, was retested and found to contain the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine. The International Olympic Committee has demanded the return of the gold medals won by the team that included Dwight Thomas, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater and Usain Bolt.

Legal luminaries, former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and The Gleaner columnist Gordon Robinson have both weighed in on the disqualification. Both lawyers are convinced that Carter's appeal should be successful, based on procedural and legal issues. Already, a fund to offset the cost of this expensive appeal has been launched as Jamaican fans are being urged to support the appeal. If the appeal is successful, the 'triple triple' gold-medal performances of the great Usain Bolt would be preserved, but just as important would be the return of the gold-medal won by Dwight Thomas, a seldom-remembered member of the team who would have the only Olympic gold medal of his career returned. We live in hope.