A salt year for local sports

Published: Friday | December 27, 2013 Comments 0
Orville Higgins
Orville Higgins

By Orville Higgins

As my last column for the year, it's almost unavoidable to look back at the sports highlights over the past 12 months. One could be forgiven for thinking that the sporting gods deserted us for 2013, as it seems that in too many cases there was just negative news associated with most of our top sports.

In football, the Reggae Boyz started well with that 0-0 draw away to Mexico in the World Cup Qualifiers, but then everything started going downhill. We couldn't buy a goal from anywhere, and we finished dead last in our group. We were forced to change coach, but didn't change our fortunes, as it appears destiny, as much as anything else, was against us.

In track and field, we did well at the World Championships in Moscow. Indeed, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were named top male and female athletes of the year, respectively - all that seemed to pale, though, with all the off-the-field issues which plagued the sport.

Largely due to the revelations of Anne Shirley, Jamaica's drug-testing programme was under the microscope for the most part. We didn't look good at all - Shirley and her utterances, but neither was the slew of high-profile failed drug tests. When Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown can all be implicated in one year, then surely the gods have decided that we would be in for it.

DRAMA FIT FOR SILVER SCREEN

As if the failed tests weren't bad enough, there was enough drama to make a Hollywood film. Veronica's hearing, after a while, appeared more like a high-profile murder trial than anything else, with the last-minute change of venue and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president hiding his face and all. To date, we have not heard a peep from International Association of Athletics Federations or World Anti-Doping Agency on the hearing, which only adds to the surreal atmosphere surrounding it.

Who can forget the case where the attorney of both Asafa and Sherone was insisting on getting the tape of the interview with his clients. It still makes me wonder what exactly could be said.

In cricket, the West Indies turned in as dismal a run as I've ever seen from them. Hammered badly by India and New Zealand in Tests. The one-day captain Dwayne Bravo is on record as saying that lack of unity was one reason the team looked so horrible. Bravo wasn't there for the four Tests against New Zealand and India, and you might be tempted to ask "What does he know?" But looking at the way the team looked, it's hard not to agree.

Our netballers continue to find it hard to break into the top two and still had to settle for bronze at the Fast Net tournament. It seems something special will be needed to get us on par with the elite two - Australia and New Zealand. Whatever that is, it's clear the sports gods were not prepared to reveal it yet, as for whatever reason, they were not too happy with us this year.

GLAD AND NUH GLAD

Even when triumph and joy came our way, as it did in the first instalment of the Caribbean Premier League, through the Jamaica Tallawahs, we still had to be "glad and nuh glad", because right after that, we were hearing that if Jamaica didn't get lights, we could be kicked out of next year's staging. Somebody in Jamaica "mus did nyam smaddy white fowl".

Even horse racing, which is never my favourite sport, had its fair share of drama with the jockeys' championship going down to the wire between Dane Nelson and Omar Walker. Walker took a nasty fall a few days ago that could still hurt his chances.

It's unlikely, because Dane Nelson is leading by five, with two racedays, but the missed opportunities, the days he sat out the rest of the raceday might, just might, prove decisive.

In basketball, we had a good year, beating opposition like Brazil for the first time, but there continued this unnecessary sideshow with Roy Hibbert almost willing to go any lengths to de-Jamaicanise himself in order to be eligible to play for the United States. I, for one, understand Hibbert's position, but it was a story, still ongoing by the way, that we could have done without.

So while there were some good moments for Jamaica in sports, it does appear that a little 'guzu' was around for the year. Maybe for the start of 2014, all Jamaican sport personalities should begin by rubbing with a little oil and powder or try get a wash off over the mineral bath to ensure we are not so salt next year.

Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host on KLAS FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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