Foster's Fairplay | Farewell Germaine
Jamaica's sporting family lost one of its finest sons this past week, when outstanding high jumper at both senior and junior levels, Germaine Mason, left us tragically as a result of injuries sustained during a motorcycle crash on the Palisadoes Road.
It has been a bitter blow to all who were privileged to know him. The comments on social media, as the news took a telling effect early on Thursday morning, succinctly sum up the nature of the young man. They depicted a humility of spirit which was in alignment with his admirable disposition and demeanour, as he displayed his skills in an area of competition where Jamaica had not before him medalled at the global level. That happened for the first time in 2000, when he took a silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile, followed by bronze in 2002 at the subsequent staging on home soil of the biennial event. In 2003, he proceeded to a still personal best Pan American gold at 2.34m, which broke Jamaica's record for the event, and equalled it while taking silver for his new country, Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Competing at the 2003 World Indoors, he copped a bronze medal.
Foster's Fairplay worked as a journalist covering several competitions in which the Wolmerian participated. The experience was made extra special given not only his gentlemanly attitude when approached, but to be selfish, his journalist-friendly behaviour at all times. There was an incident while this columnist was covering the Kingston-staged World Juniors in 2002. It is recounted to further demonstrate the air of cordiality that he carried, even when dealing with virtual strangers. There was an embargo placed on this journalist to interview athletes, following a comment that had made team management a bit uncomfortable. Mason was approached. In low apologetic tones, he expressed a reluctance to oblige for the reasons given. However, he escorted this surprised journalist to a secluded area and did what he was required to do. A story on his performance was made on the back of an act of goodwill to someone he was meeting for the first time.
Following Mason's untimely passing, thoughts turn now to the way in which the nation can pay tribute to an athlete who has broken barriers while competing for Jamaica, Land We Love, as well as being so gracious in the execution. National honours come immediately to mind. Having said that, there is hesitation. A recent experience informs that the process to recommend someone thought to be worthy is a very awkward one. In filling out the required form, a lot more is required than a mere rehearsal of the nominee's performances that triggered the idea. One would have thought that an account from a witness to a particular act or series of acts, should be sufficient, especially when there is corroboration from elsewhere or can be easily checked. Not so, as the feeling is that unless details of the individual's background are cited, the exercise is one of near futility.
Foster's Fairplay, with all said in mind, issues two calls to the Minister holding the sports portfolio. First, given the contribution to the sport by Mason, consideration should be given to granting him a posthumous award. There is no intention to steer the minister's mind in any particular direction as to the type of award to be offered. There is not even a compulsion that it should be under the heading of an existing one, as there should be no difficulty in creating a suitable one. The honourable lady is blessed with good judgement, and has over time, clearly shown that she is alert and sympathetic to the deeds of our athletes when they don the black, green and gold. In Mason's case, his attributes, as already described, stretch even further. Whatever she might miss, there are enough knowledgeable individuals in her midst to afford the quality advice necessary.
Once the decision to take the suggested advice is cemented, the second ask is that the system of nomination be streamlined and made less cumbersome to recommend a candidate.
Germaine Mason's image and the qualities he has left with us who follow the sport should be indelible. Let them be recognised as a memento to his family and friends.
Rest well, soldier.
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