André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Coach says swimmer's performance has ignited athletics unit
Maurice Westney, one of Jamaica's track and field coaches at the Olympic Games in London, says the squad is anxiously awaiting its turn to dive into action, having been spurred on by the brave efforts of swimmer Alia Atkinson.
Atkinson heartened the entire nation and, in fact, her teammates here in London, as she raced to a fourth-place finish in the final of the 100m breaststroke at the Aquatics Centre - an effort that, according to Westney, has added fuel to an already burning desire within the 47-strong athletics unit, which will spring into action this Friday.
"Alia (Atkinson) has really encouraged the entire track and field team immensely," Westney told The Gleaner. "Everybody wanted to go (to the final), but we didn't have enough time to get the tickets.
"A couple people went, but her efforts have certainly lifted the spirit of the entire camp. I was really anticipating that for the second time since 1980 we would get a medal at the Olympics outside of track and field, but we all think she did really well. She still has an outside chance of getting a medal but who knows, it's all possible, we know that everything is possible," Westney added.
Atkinson came to the Olympics as the 17th-ranked competitor in the event.
Westney, a coach at G.C. Foster College, now at his third Olympic Games after experiences at the 1996 Atlanta and 2004 Athens Games, says the team is highly motivated and a bit anxious to get started after being in the country for almost three weeks, including their pre-Olympic training camp in Birmingham.
"I think training is going very well, the guys are a little anxious now to compete because it's been about three weeks or so pretty much, and they now just want to get out there and do their bit here in London," Westney said, before adding that he believes this augurs well for the athletes themselves.
"I think it's a very good sign and it means that everyone is looking forward to doing the job that they are here to do and making the country proud,"said Westney.
When athletics action starts on Friday several Jamaicans will jump into the mix straight away.
Dorian Scott (shot put qualifying), Kimberly Williams, Trecia Smith (triple jump), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kerron Stewart (women 100m), Leford Green, Josef Robertson, Roxroy Cato (400m hurdles), Novlene Williams-Mills, Rosemarie Whyte, Christine Day (400m), Allison Randall (discus), and Damar Forbes are the Jamaicans who will be in action on the first day of track and field competition.