Foster's Fairplay | Building more Bolts
Since his breakout at the junior level in the year 2002, it has become traditional for superstar Usain Bolt to raise the expectancy levels of the track and field family as to what he has in store for the upcoming season.
English cricket scribe, Fred Lillywhite put it perfectly as he anticipated another remarkable act on the part of a rural Mr Do-It-All, preparing for a match, asking, "What extravagance might he perpetrate next?"
The 2017 London World Championships pulled the plug on all that speculation. To borrow a term from the game, he preferred as a youngster, Bolt has played his final innings. It was a master stroke, and long will it be remembered.
What remains, now that his spikes are shelved, is the strong feeling that all is lost and that he cannot be replaced. Foster's Fairplay does not agree. Jamaica has been blessed with talented athletes over time. However, if that resource is to blossom and produce fruit, it requires the early recognition, care, nurture and realignment of focus, which Bolt was fortunate to have had at his disposal. His mentorship and support group had the good sense to surround him with persons who could rally to the cause. He was placed in an environment - the Glen Mills Camp - that knew what it takes to develop and fine-tune the art of sprinting.
FAILURE OF FOREIGN PROGRAMMES
From the fate that has befallen some of the most gifted, it is clear that shipping them off to foreign programmes does not provide the answers or the ingredients to promote excellence.
One has only to examine the advance of the nation's throwers in recent times. Efforts from local coaches like Michael Vassell and Julian Leonard Robinson have sparked the interest that we are now seeing, not only in the results at the global events, but at local institutions whose coaches are following suit.
Track and field needs to be declared an industry which has the capacity to further enhance Jamaica's image on the international stage. Its ability to positively affect the gross domestic product, is undernourished. The phenomenon started from the exploits of the Helsinki 4x400m relay four, Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden and Les Laing before the baton was passed on to the Merlene Ottey/Donald Quarrie era and then Bolt, Shellyann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson and let us not omit Veronica Campbell Brown, did their bit. It would be a travesty if the history should end there.
Unless the Government gets serious about the product and injects the funds and the will as well as the infrastructure to make it happen, that is exactly what will be the fate of so many athletes who struggle to make their way in the sport.
This year when there is no global competition, could be the year to gather the troops and attack the situation. There needs to be a getting together with friendly countries, like Cuba who excel in events where Jamaica is lacking. This is a viable way in which there can be improvement in the particular area. It has been tried in the distance events but somehow, it did not meet the success, as envisaged. This is not a reason to abandon the thought; it can be attempted again, given new knowledge and the acceptance that there might have been mistakes which were made at first go.
Come on leaders. It is not beyond the nation to once again stun the world. There can be more Bolts. Get your act together, up the input and show the world the stuff with which Jamaica is blessed.
The only excuse for not acting along these lines is if you will get tired of building statues.