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A life of sports

Published:Monday | March 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Carole Beckford and client, Usain Bolt. - Contributed
An avid reader, Carole Beckford always has her nose in a book. - photos by Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

 Nashauna Drummond, Lifestyle Coordinator

Carole Beckford has been surrounded by sports all her life. She was born into a sports-loving family; her dad played cricket at the community level and her mother worked on the sidelines operating the scoreboard. The self-proclaimed tomboy from Springfield in Linstead, St Catherine, has great memories of watching sports with her family and attending her first cricket match at Sabina Park in 1976 when India toured the West Indies. She was only five. She has carried that love for sports with her, even as she has explored different career paths as a teacher, journalist and now communication specialist, and publicist for the fastest man on Earth, Usain Bolt.

A journalist for more than 20 years, Beckford has worked at The Gleaner Company, the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), CBS Radio 88 (in New York) and KLAS Sports Radio where she produced and hosted the show, Scoreboard.

After attending Mico Teachers' College, where she focused on general science and physical education, she taught at St Hugh's and Merl Grove high schools. She also did a stint in The Bahamas teaching physics, English, physical education and coaching a basketball team.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from Mercy College in New York on a sports scholarship, and played division II basketball at the college level.

She returned to Jamaica in 1998, and in 2007, the Ferncourt High School graduate published her first book:
Keeping Jamaica's Sports on Track
. The book, which was three years in the making, was originally intended as a white paper to be presented in Parliament.

"I thought it (sports in Jamaica) needed to be formalised. It's a blueprint for how it can be developed," she said of the book.

"Not enough focus is put on physical education in schools. We have the structure, we just don't follow our own rules," she said during an interview with
at The Gleaner's North Street, Kingston office.

"We don't all have to be the Usain Bolts of the world; there are so many other areas. The Sports Develop-ment Commission (SDC) has all the systems in place, we just don't utilise them and it bothers me."

She stressed that the country needs to tap into the creative sector, "Target sections you want to grow. Physical education and music are specialist areas which should have extra focus." A trained physical education teacher who currently lectures at G.C. Foster College, she notes that physical education is not just about play, but 'movement' education - how the body works.

The former head of the Jamaica Volleyball Association and head of the marketing commission for the North, Central America and the Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA), is currently working on her second book, a text on sports journalism.

Bolt's Publicist

Beckford's professional background makes her well suited to represent 100 and 200 metres World Record holder, Usain Bolt.

She was offered the job a few months after Bolt's 2009 car accident that gained attention worldwide. Of representing one of the most recognisable figures in sports today, she notes, "It's very demanding but not difficult."

What is difficult, she explains, is dealing with the constant requests for the young track superstar's time. She said she gets at least 300 requests per week.

She recently posted four minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of Bolt working on a Jamaica Tourist Board commercial. In a week, there were more than 720,000 hits on the site.

Love for reading

When she is not busy at work on her computer or Blackberry, this techie can be found with her nose in a book.

"I read anything. I'm running out of things to read and I read, anything."

Beckford's favourite authors include Robert Ludlum, Jerome Dickey and John Grisham. She just finished reading Ludlum's
The Prometheus Deception
. Like the book's protagonist, who works for an American secret intelligence group, she believes she could work for the CIA or the Jamaican equivalent. This, from a woman who once dreamed of being in the army and had it written in her high school yearbook that she would become Jamaican's first female prime minister. Though she has been beaten to that, she still has hopes of one day entering politics. "I want to implement change." She concedes though, that Jamaica's politics, in its current form, is too tribal.

In the meantime, the proud mom of a 15-year-old son is happy where she is. She finds joy in the admiration of her son, who thinks she is "so cool" when she plays basketball with his friends and beats them.

"My life has been good. I've travelled a lot and met many people."