Paul Wright | Not everyone deserves statues
Jamaica paid what I think is the ultimate tribute to Usain Bolt two weekends ago. A larger-than-life realistic statue of the great man in his iconic pose, "To the world", was unveiled at the National Stadium.
Some people have a nervous feeling when a decision is made to commemorate a statue to a deserving individual who is still "young". So much can go wrong in the ensuing years that may cause regret. However in this case, what this young Jamaican has done for the land of his birth (and himself) cannot be quantified. Usain Bolt deserves a statue.
The array of celebrities that showed up at the ceremony reveals the impact that this man has had, not only on the sport of track and field, but also on anyone who has come into contact with him on or off the track. His unsurpassed record of gold medals and records in a sport dogged by whispers and rumours of athletes who use performance enhancers to achieve winning results, as well as positive tests, only confirms what the world knows: Usain Bolt is the real deal.
This fitting tribute has, however, caused some Jamaican frack and field fans, and administrators, to start a campaign for similar accolades to be built and showcased for other track and field greats who appear to have a case for a statue. That is where the arguments get a little tricky. From the days of Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, and the other athletic greats with Olympic and World Championships gold medals and records, this little island in the Caribbean has consistently produced the best athletes time after time, Olympics after Olympics.
However, with the increase in drug-testing capabilities, coupled with the action of whistle-blowers, there has been a spate of positive drug finds among those who were thought to be clean. This drive to unmask cheats gained momentum some years ago when the World Anti-Doping Association began saving and testing samples of body fluids taken from athletes. These samples can now be saved for 10 years and then retested when more modern methods of detection are added to the armoury of the laboratories. Samples previously thought to be drug free can now be retested when the performance enhancer is known and a method of detection, previously unknown, is now used on the sample.
All of this testing and retesting of samples is designed solely to unmask cheaters - those who, by nefarious and illegal means, obtained results that outstripped those athletes that played by the rules. Essentially, this means that anyone convicted (after a hearing of their side of the story) of using an illegal substance cannot, and should not, be afforded the privilege of having a statue, a permanent reminder, erected in their honour! That, unfortunately, disqualifies a few of our past and present track and field stars, who have, by their exploits, provided this nation with moments of unparallelled joy and happiness. Some of our stars have been accused of using illegal substances and or methods, but after a hearing (and appeal), have been exonerated of the charge of cheating. This fact confirms that anyone who is accused of using drugs in sports has a chance of exoneration after a hearing. Therefore, if after a hearing or appeal, the allegation of drug use is proven, then that fact essentially disqualifies the individual from a statue.
In this regard Usain St Leo Bolt stands supreme. His statue is well deserved, and its position in Independence Park can and will serve as an inspiration to others as to what can be achieved by talent and hard work. Congrats, Usain Bolt!