Poppy Brady, Gleaner Writer
THE pressure is immense but Jamaica will deliver - that was the message from two leading officials of the Jamaican track and field team who were special guests at a lunch held at the Rotary Club of Birmingham in England yesterday.
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association President Dr Warren Blake and technical leader Don Quarrie were guests of Rotary President Beverly Lindsay, who recently became the city club's first black female leader.
A gold medallist in the 200 metres at Montreal in 1976, Don Quarrie was as fast as the legendary saying 'even Don Quarrie couldn't catch me' to spring to Usain Bolt's defence when he was asked if the world record holder had 'lost his fire' since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
"When we are cooking something we turn up the heat, but we always simmer down," said Quarrie. "In Beijing, Bolt was hot, but he has a life and he is a young man. He came second at the Olympic trials, but that doesn't mean anything. Athletics is so unpredictable."
He added: "Whatever he does we are going to love him, whether he breaks his world record or not."
He added: "We are so riled up at the moment because of the 50th anniversary of Jamaican Independence and everyone is expecting us to do better than Beijing. The athletes are competing against themselves, and that is competition enough.
"But when they perform at their best, the medals will come and then we can start counting. Life is a cycle and this is our time. We want to leave our legacy for it to be remembered and enjoyed. This is the beauty of sport - it keeps us together and brings the world together."
Quarrie praised the wonderful Birmingham camp, adding: "In 10 and 20 years' time we want to remember that Birmingham was a part of this. We have had the most fantastic welcome here."
Blake said he was confident Jamaica would consolidate its position as the sprinting capital of the world. Since the 1948 Olympics, Jamaica has won 55 medals and was 'climbing the ladder all the time.' But he added that 30 of those medals had been won by women.
"The Jamaican women have outshone the men over the years. Perhaps that also explains why your club has a Jamaican woman as its president," he added with a smile.
Beverly Lindsay, who played a major role in helping to seal the deal for the Jamaicans to base their pre-Olympic training camp in Birmingham, also chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK.