Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Laurie Foster | Time to get local athletics on track

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Danielle Brissett from Holmhood Technical clears a hurdle on her way to winning her heat in the Class One girls’ 400m hurdles at the Pure Water/Jamaica College/R. Danny Williams Track and Field Meet at Jamaica College on Saturday, January 5.

The 2019 local track and field season has been launched on a historic note. It came with the staging of the 26th edition of the Pure Water/Jamaica College/R. Danny Williams Track and Field Meet at the new state-of-the-art facility on the premises of the school, which celebrates its 230th birthday this year. It was made possible through a gift from the legal family - Ashenheim - members of which have populated the school for as long as can be remembered.

If one can look past a late start, occasioned by a glitch in the availability of Internet services, the day was an encouraging success. The proceedings, scheduled to end before dusk, carried on somewhat later, but temporary lighting was brought in to atone for this. The school's sporting organisation and the dedicated year-to-year volunteers, who contributed to this end, are to be congratulated, and the wider body of the Institution's family should be proud. With still a few weeks to go for the official opening in February and the further enhancement of features promised, the plan is that the claim of world class should be duly earned.

Among the host of track and field supporters who were present on the day, several voices spoke of what this new venture would do for the sport throughout the country. As Foster's Fairplay reflected on what was heard, a single situation stood out. The inescapable fact was that Jamaica College was only the third high school in the country to boast an all-weather track. The other two - Calabar and Kingston College - along with Jamaica College, have been the foremost campaigners at the high-school level for decades. They are now well served to lift the profile of the sport to an even more significant level. A following factor should be that other institutions will strive to do the same. This accepted, what should be said about other sections of the country? Surely, the innate talent does not rest only with schools in the capital city.


Make an industry


With all the resources that already exist and are being displayed on the global stage, Jamaica should be thinking of transforming its most successful sport into an industry.

Come on now, people, the country should be positioned to earn from this. In that regard, the wider world should be attracted to buy into the local model and reap the benefits therefrom. Which country would not wish to have its own Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Veronica Campbell-Brown? These are the country's legends, and there are more whose performances should be marketed to positive effect.

As the country showcases its best in the field of this sport, spare a thought for the mid-island component of its athletic talent. Where are the facilities which complement what has been produced by the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth? It is nothing short of shameful that a facility of the required standard has not yet been developed in that section of the country. This should be addressed with the type of speed which has been the calling card for the host of athletes born and bred in those areas.

If ever there was a win-win scenario, this seems to be it.

A most satisfying development in the sport is the coming together of former Jamaican athletes Dwight Thomas and Sekou Clarke, who have pooled their resources, knowledge and expertise to form Thomas & Clarke International Sports Management LLC. They have been active on the global scene exposing their varied services to athletes from all areas.

Foster's Fairplay wishes them well in an area which is traditionally dominated by foreigners.

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