Olympic team leaders shine at int'l reggae fest
Poppy Brady, Gleaner Writer
THREE leaders from Jamaica's Olympic track-and-field team stole the show at an international reggae festival when their surprise appearance wowed the crowds.
Technical leader Don Quarrie, treasurer Ludlow Watts, and the team's medical officer Dr Winston Dawes, were greeted with cheers of delight from thousands of people enjoying the Simmer Down spectacular in Birmingham's Handsworth Park.
And while on stage, the trio couldn't resist singing along and getting into the groove after telling Birmingham people they were being a fantastic host city for the 47-strong Jamaican track-and-field team.
Quarrie, a 200m Olympic gold medallist, said: "It's a pleasure to be here. We won't start counting the medals until we get them, but we are going to get a lot."
100 metres of a lifetime
This brought thunderous cheers of support before he added: "I urge everyone to make sure they watch the 100m final. It will be a moment in all your lifetimes that you will never forget. Jamaica will be number one and number two, so we can't miss."
And he went on to urge people to come along to Birmingham's Symphony Hall next Wednesday to watch the cultural extravaganza celebrating Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence, along with a salute to the athletes before they leave for London.
He said: "The entire team - all 47 of the athletes will be at Symphony Hall. I want to thank you all for thinking of us, and remember, whether it is on the big screen or the small screen, we will do our best for you."
Dawes added that he had very much enjoyed being in Birmingham, regretting only that they had all come here to work.
"Otherwise, we could have had more fun," he said.
He added, to more roars from the crowd: "Birmingham is a beautiful city and its people are even more beautiful. We have been spoilt. I do not see London being anywhere near as good. You have been excellent hosts and hostesses".
Watts said: "We chose Birmingham to be our hosts because you are a great people with great passion. I look into this crowd and see 'out of many, one people'."
He added: "During the Olympics, you will see a lot of Jamaican athletes. We have 47 of them and all 47 are going to shine".
He also urged people to take part in the Jamaica in the Square celebration in Birmingham's Victoria Square between August 2 and 6.
Simmer Down, in its fourth year and organised by Perry Barr Constituency Arts Forum and The Drum, attracts bigger crowds each year. Topping the bill this year were the UK's chart-topping reggae group Aswad, along with Stereo Nation, Brothers of Soul, Bonito Star, Danni Mayers and the Friendly Fire Band.