Foster's Fairplay | Due reward and recognition
The farewell celebrations and tributes afforded the outgoing Usain Bolt, arguably the greatest Jamaican sporting performer of all time, have left Foster's Fairplay in deep thought. No follower of Jamaican track and field can justly say that the show of appreciation for the legend is not deserving, but why should there not be more consistency in the practice? Surely, there are others in track and field who should be so honoured once they indicate that their time has come.
In saying this, it is acknowledged that the Bolt accolades, in keeping with his stature and impact, were given first by his club, Racers, in conjunction with Jamaica, the country that had its pedigree in the sport significantly enhanced each time the big man ran across the finish line. Then came the unique recognition of his achievements at the London World Championships last month.
Foster's Fairplay is not and will never be in the business of ushering any of the country's outstanding athletes towards the exit door. One has only to look back to 1988 for an incident of this disrespect when the great Donald Quarrie was denied a sixth Olympic berth after meeting the qualifying standard at the Trials. At the same time, it is essential that they are not allowed to slip away without due recognition and reward for what they have done for the nation.
It is not to be conceived that athletes to be recommended for farewell honours form the entire cohort of those deserving.
The ones mentioned can be viewed as a mere teaser to others who come to mind. If recent reports are to be believed, both of Jamaica's double Olympic sprint queens, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, have hinted that they are taking a look at their departure schedule. Campbell-Brown was absent from the London Trials in June and an injury was reported as the reason. Fraser-Pryce had previously declared that she was on the verge of having her first child. With both at the stage when thoughts of retirement were swirling, it was a very welcome and instructive addition to the news of the time that they should clear the air. In both cases, as reported, they spoke of basically taking it a season at a time, as they looked at what must be their final years of service to their country. Former world record holder Asafa Powell's sentiments, also as reported, were no different.
All three of these athletes have brought honour and glory to their country. They are role models and are worthy of emulation by others who are waiting in the wings for their turn to represent the nation. The legendary achievements of Usain Bolt should not be allowed to cloud the vision of those called upon to give them their due when they, in their own time, call a halt on their illustrious careers.
They do not stand alone, and it is only left to sound judgement and reasonable thinking to arrive at the names of others whose accomplishments fit the bill. These persons would have had to perform at a level that sets them ahead of their fellow competitors. Selections, more often than not, create controversy when performers are named for special treatment. Who wants to have queries as to whether he/she was eligible for the awards which will accrue? With the recent naming of athletes whose achievements are to be recognised by having statues erected in their honour, some comments are, to say the least, annoying. They tend to be counterproductive, as in an effort to add the personal choice of a particular critic, some of the selectees can have their worth devalued.
Foster's Fairplay's thoughts have come up with a set of criteria which will stand the tests of scrutiny and time. That is, to suggest that the prestige and privilege of a grand farewell be limited to medallists at the Olympics and World Championships - the accredited highest levels of the sport.
Only then, to use the popular conclusion, can it be said, 'argument done'.
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