Paulton Gordon, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica is a special place, with special people, and it has an appeal that is hard to describe and can only be experienced. When you interface with visitors at home or abroad, it is there to see. At an international event such as the Olympic Games, it increases tenfold. It is sometimes even difficult for fans to remain grounded in a setting where so much attention is being showered on you, and we continue to live vicariously through our athletes and the power of the brand.
The challenge, therefore, is to find ways to keep our young athletes balanced. The spotlight, the media, the expected endorsement deals and excessive parties can sidetrack our elite athletes. As ambassadors for Brand Jamaica, they must endeavour to represent themselves and the nation with zeal, while maintaining the creativity and distinctiveness that accentuates the brand. Collectively, we have to ensure that the glamour and glitter does not diminish performances.
At every point of contact in London, the opportunity arises to showcase Jamaica. A group of journalists from Ghana stopped us in Piccadilly Circus yesterday wanting to get intimate details on the Jamaican track-and-field programme. I suspect this was because there was a hot debate in progress by members of our travelling party as to how many medals Jamaica would get in the 200 metre for women. The debate also focused on Kaliese Spencer's quest to move from her 'nearly' status to standing prominently on the medal podium. All of this would have been settled at this point in time.
The older Jamaicans whom I have met in London are suggesting that the athletes have brought back the spirit that was felt when the West Indies was dominating world cricket. Just being in the streets of London and listening to the salutations evokes a sense of pride that elevates you even if you are not blessed with the stature or height of a Usain Bolt.
Our journey back to the hotel on Tuesday was somewhat eventful, as there were extended delays on the Jubilee underground line due to lost signals. We were told that, at times, the rain impacts the system, resulting in a logistical nightmare. Being stuck underground can sometime lead to a level of apprehension, but that was not evident among the 20 Jamaican fans in our section of the train. Out popped an iPhone with all the latest features, belting out Bob Marley hits to soothe the frustration. As expected, we all joined in singing, much to the amusement of other international fans who were clearly happy for this exclusive cultural presentation. That is the spirit of Jamaica; such is the power of the brand.