Paulton Gordon, Gleaner Writer
London beckons and hundreds of Jamaican fans have started to make the trek across the Atlantic to be part of what is expected to be an historic and exhilarating 10 days of track and field at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
As is traditional, the Jamaican medal hopes are pinned primarily on our exploits in athletics and the vast majority of fans have planned their trip to coincide with the track-and-field events which begin tomorrow, in the 80,000-plus capacity Olympic stadium.
Beijing was special, but London is expected to be spectacular. Jamaica is eager to defend its reputation as the global sprint capital and Bolt, Blake, Powell, Fraser-Pryce and Campbell-Brown are poised to lead that charge. An unscientific survey of a group of fans who travelled on my flight to London on Monday, indicated a count of a minimum 11 to a maximum 16 medals. The overwhelming view is that the sprints (100m, 200m, and relays) will account for the majority of the medals but a fan indicated that he would not be surprised if a medal is won in the 110m hurdles. Other fans suggested that our field athletes have been literally making their mark at all levels in the recent past and the thinking is that this could be a breakthrough year for the big men. Many track fans are confident that Melaine Walker will deliver when it matters most and Kaliese Spencer is determined to prove that she is a bona fide leader of the next wave of Jamaican track-and-field superstars.
Over the next few days I will be providing a perspective from the fan's eye. The aim is to capture the experience in and around the Olympic stadium and wherever the Jamaican and Caribbean fans assemble to celebrate successes. Periodically, I will be in the O2 Arena, the home of the Jamaica Village which will showcase brand Jamaica as the nation seeks to capitalise on the coalescing of the Jamaica 50 anniversary and the Olympic Games.
Alia Atkinson (swimming) has shown that with the necessary support system and the requisite dedication a lot can be achieved in other sporting disciplines. She has set the stage for the rest of the Games. The travelling fans who are close to the action and, indeed, the entire nation eagerly anticipate the fireworks on the track that is expected to ignite a nation at the summit of its 50th anniversary celebration.