The Wright View | Hats off to Clarke
The victory of Calabar over Kingston College (KC) in the recently concluded ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium reminds me of a quote I read years ago: "An army of deer led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a deer". Let me state also that I mean no disrespect to the many boys who represented their schools so admirably during the five days of competition, but Jamaica (and the world) MUST recognise the absolute genius that coach Michael Clarke is.
The pundits (me included) had predicted a KC victory by at least 30 points, but at the close of competition on Friday, the deficit (Calabar to KC) was only a paltry seven points. With Calabar seemingly having a larger number of competitors on "finals Saturday", their fans and supporters left the stadium that evening very confident of victory on Friday and Saturday night. The expected 'Fortis' fighting spirit of KC became evident as the final evening progressed, and it was left to the 4x400m relay to decide the Championships. The big question at that time was, Could KC overcome a major injury setback to finish close enough to the favourites, Calabar, to grab victory from the very jaws of defeat?
History will record that they could not, but this championship battle will be remembered for years to come. I have long postulated that these championships are usually won by the team that has the fewer injuries to major stars and the dreaded disqualifications for lane violations, false starts, and dropped batons in the relays. And so it did. Disqualifications did help KC earn (and lose) points, and the management of the injured KC captain (was it a cramp or a tear?) was the difference between winning and losing.
However, the tactics employed by Calabar in blunting the threat of KC earning maximum points, in races where they had two finalists, was a master class in the art of assessing rivals and working out a plan to maximise their own point potential. Michael Clarke's journey from St Jago to Jamaica College to Calabar MUST be a chapter (or two) of any book or university course in "how to win at Champs". Well done! Working out a way to deny a child from earning a maximum 18 points must have been more rewarding than threatening court action to deny him competing in what is truly the greatest athletics competition for children in the world.
Depth and quality
On the girls side, the expected one-sided victory of Edwin Allen did materialise, although at one stage, the girls from St Jago did look menacing. However, the depth and quality of the Edwin Allen team prevailed. Coach Dyke, too, deserves praise, but until he is challenged by other schools like Calabar was, and prevails, then what he has done (and is doing) at Edwin Allen, while worthy of special mention, pales in significance to the consistent feats of Michael Clarke. Did someone say national honours?
The information coming out of Germany that "many" Jamaicans whose samples were retested after the Beijing Olympics showed traces of the banned substance Clenbuterol, a proven performance enhancer, should bring home quite forcibly to our standard-bearers in international competition the fact that there are very few non-Jamaicans who believe that our stars are drug free. The authorities have already quite correctly pooh-poohed this revelation as the quantity of the drug detected coincides with the possibility of consuming meat in China containing the substance! No sanction was ever contemplated, but this information is not carried in the bulk of the "news flash" that regales international stories.
Our athletes who are in the JADCO testing pool MUST educate themselves and be aware of the rules and regulations regarding whereabouts and testing, particularly at home.
It must be made mandatory for ALL members of JADCO's testing pool to attend at least two or three JADCO-led workshops in any 18-month period to be eligible to compete for this nation. Just too much is at stake for the now trite comment "I never knew" to be accepted as an excuse for breaching the WADA code for drug use in sport. He who hath ears to hear, let them hear.