Take back the 4x400m! - Jamaica will dominate the mile relay again, says Cameron
A flag-bearer of Jamaica's rich heritage in the quarter-mile, Bertland 'Bert' Cameron, has lauded the IAAF Word Relays, which gets under way tomorrow in Nassau, Bahamas, and has sounded the warning that Jamaica is poised to return to its position as Caribbean standard-bearers in the 4x400m relay.
In the rich story of Jamaica's 400m heritage, Cameron, the 1983 World Champion, certainly has a chapter or two for himself. A member of the silver medal winning 1988 Seoul Olympic Games 4x400m team, Cameron has been left disheartened by the country's diminished role in the event, but remains convinced that Jamaica will soon unseat The Bahamas as the region's powerhouse.
Since claiming gold at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games with the pioneering quartet of Arthur Wint, Leslie Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden, Jamaica's 4x400m teams have led the region's ambitions, winning an additional three medals at the Olympic Games.
Jamaica has, however, failed to make an Olympic podium since 2000 in Sydney, while The Bahamas has medalled at three of the last four, winning gold at the last installment in London.
"The Bahamas and perhaps Trinidad and Tobago are ahead of us right now, but, traditionally, we Jamaicans are supposed to dominate the 4x400m, we are the ones that traditionally carry the torch for the Caribbean. We are seeing the Bahamians doing it extremely well these days, but I think our time is coming," said Cameron.
"If you see what's happening with the youngsters, (Akeem) Bloomfield and Christopher Taylor - if you don't believe that the seniors are taking note of that and will step up their game, you have another thing
coming," he added referring to the teenagers' impressive performances this season - Bloomfield, 17 years old, clocking 44.93 seconds, and 15-year-old Taylor posting a world age-group record 45.69.
"These seniors are aware that it's been too long; that it's a long time coming and if they don't want to do it, the younger boys will take us back to where we belong," said a passionate Cameron, who is in The Bahamas as part of Jamaica's coaching staff. "I believe that at the Olympics in Rio next year, we will be a force to be reckoned with."
In truth, the Jamaicans have been making some noise again in recent times in the World Championships, stopping a two-installment skid, to claim a silver and bronze at the 2011 and 2013 versions. This came after medals in 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005.
"The 4x400m is very important to us. We need to keep people like Herb (McKenley) and George (Rhoden) and all the pioneers' names alive," Cameron said. "We were recognised in this world as quarter-milers until Donald Quarrie and Lennox Miller came about. Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell have changed the face of Jamaican athletics, which is great and they are amazing, I love them both, but don't be fooled, this is a quarter-mile country."
"It's coming back, it must come back, it's who we are," said a convinced Cameron.
A solid showing this weekend would certainly go a long way in convincing the rest of the world.