Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Follow The Trace | No disrespect to Bolt

Published:Tuesday | August 22, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Jamaica's Usain Bolt does a lap of honour at the end of the World Athletics Championships in London last week.

I was acutely befuddled by the turn of events last week during the debate about the injury to sprint superstar Usain Bolt. Opinions were split down the middle as to the veracity of Bolt's injury from the moment he got up and walked off the track after the sprint relay on the penultimate day of the London World championships.

The rhetoric descended into the realm of absurdity when those who made the honest and credible observation that Bolt showed little or no discomfort, neither while walking off the track on the day in question nor the following day when he duly walked the full four hundred metres of the track bending and kissing the surface at the two hundred-metre mark, and again at the one hundred-metre mark and again showed little or no discomfort.

Out came the accusations of some persons being "ungrateful Bolt haters" for questioning the integrity and commitment of the legend to his country. It throws up again another index of a wider notion that due to the recent success of our track athletes they are beyond reproach, therefore honest and reasonable questions should not or cannot be asked of them.

In the midst of the spiralling debate out came a timely confirmation that the triple Olympic Champion, triple World record holder and the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen was officially diagnosed with a severe grade 4C muscle tear, the most severe injury reading by the scale of MRI technology.

Instead of once and for all ending the debate, this unusual confirmation, followed by Bolt himself - for the first time in his career - releasing details of his specific medical condition on social media, only seemed to have added fuel to the fire.

The confirmation of the severity of the injury instead prompted even more questions as to the likelihood of Bolt or any other athlete suffering such a severe muscle tear and remaining so relatively unaffected. To my mind elementary commonsense and pertinent questions, with no ulterior motive. Questions, not necessarily targeting Bolt's integrity, but which could conceivably be pointing to an incorrect diagnosis on the part of the medical specialists involved.

 

Near impossible

 

One local medical expert consulted said that in all his years, he has never seen a patient suffer that level of injury and casually walk away. By contrast, another local practitioner admitted that it was unusual what Bolt did, but hastened to remind us all that Usain Bolt is not a typical or normal physical being and could conceivably have such a high pain threshold that would enable him to do the near-impossible as he had done on the track during the course of his illustrious career.

This is the kind of overall thorough and probing attitude we should seek to adapt as Jamaicans to all areas of national life, nothing personal or vindictive, but let honesty and objectivity drive our quest for information and truth. We can only be better for it.

I was left flabbergasted and disappointed by the level the discourse descended to on this issue, as if we dare not disagree, we dare not ask, we dare not learn.

To be forthright and honest is to be the nefarious enemy with the effrontery to question the integrity of the legend, but please, let us not get it twisted. No Jamaican in their right mind could be consciously seeking to disrespect Usain Bolt. Certainly not this Jamaican.