'New stars will arise' - Vilma Charlton: Bolt is special
The incomparable Usain Bolt may have retired, but new Jamaican stars will arise. That was the optimistic note struck by three-time Olympian Vilma Charlton at the recent launch of the Preparatory Schools Championships in Kingston. She was addressing the worry fans have for Jamaica's athletics in the wake of Bolt's retirement.
"Many people are worried that we have not seen a rising star to take his place," she began. "As I said earlier this year, we will not see another phenomenal athlete like this," she reiterated.
"Usain Bolt was different," she reminisced. "He was special."
Charlton, who ran for Jamaica in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, explained why the tall sprinter from Trelawny was unique.
"He had a fantastic personality and all that put together," she surmised, "that's why he's so special. But Jamaica will continue to produce stars that will eventually rise up to the top.
"It is at meets like yours that you will see new talents unearthed," she said to the organisers in her capacity as fourth vice-president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.
She cited the results of the recent Commonwealth Games as proof of the sport's health in Jamaica. The island's track and field athletes won more medals than ever before, carting away 25 podium prizes. The record haul included seven gold medals thanks to shot putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd, 400 metres hurdler Janieve Russell, Ronald Levy in the 110m hurdles, steeplechase winner Aisha Praught-Leer, discus thrower Fedrick Dacres and the women's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.