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Jamaica presents tall order for The Bahamas

Sports Scope
  • Usain Bolt.

FRED STURRUP

Published: Feb 07, 2013

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He came out of Trelawny Parish in the Cornwall County of Jamaica. The area is a sanctuary for birds and one of the most ecological areas in all of Jamaica. There is much similarity to some of the lesser affluent areas of the Family Islands of The Bahamas.

Usain Bolt was once one of those raw products, developed within the structure of Jamaica’s virtually modest but exhaustive out-reach athletic program. Today, he is the finest of all world track and field athletes. Some think of him as the best ever, never mind Jesse Owens, Sergey Bubka, Florence Joyner, Carl Lewis, Bob Hayes, Tommie Smith, Don Quarrie, Veronica Campbell-Brown or the other legends. Personally, I think Bolt is the best of all time. Apart from his six Olympic gold medals, three World Championships gold medals, he owns the world records in the 100 meters (9.58) and the 200 meters (19.19).

Then, there is his charisma. He’s the biggest marketing product in the history of track and field. The collective commodity called Usain Bolt is the greatest for sure, in my estimation. Bahamians saw him competing in person, the last time on local soil, back in 2005 at the Senior Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships.

That was before he became perhaps the most highly regarded athlete in the world. He ran 20.03 to win the 200 meters event. Second was Aaron Armstrong of Trinidad and Tobago in 20.35 seconds, followed by our very own Dominic Demeritte in 20.47. Bolt is totally home grown. Scholarship opportunities were there for him in abundance at institutions in the United States. However, ‘The Lightning Bolt’ opted to stay at home, to attend the University of Technology and benefit from Jamaican coaching and the environment that breeds champions.

That’s the real point of this column and why Jamaica presents such a tall order for The Bahamas, the host country of the 2013 CARIFTA Games (March 29-April 1) and the other national squads from around the region. Jamaica’s Sports Academy has proven its worth. Now, that program is about to be emulated here in The Bahamas. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson is pushing to get our academy off the ground. This is the way to go. We are nowhere near Jamaica in track and field accomplishments.

There was a time though, in the early 1980s, when The Bahamas won its fourth CARIFTA Games, when we were neck and neck with the country that won the first three. Since then however, with its sports academy producing, nurturing and reaping a great wealth of success, Jamaica has evolved head and shoulders above the rest of the CARIFTA nations.

Having won 28 consecutive CARIFTA Games titles is an ample indication of how tough Jamaica will be during that last weekend in March, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Congratulations to Jamaica and its sporting family! There is the potential for The Bahamas to get back to being a serious opponent for Jamaica in track and field. Just how Bolt and many other great Jamaican athletes were searched out and brought into a refined development process, that’s how we must go here in this country, if we hope to become a legitimate rival once again.

The upcoming CARIFTA Games will show just where we are, at this moment in time. Jamaica is the standard.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.


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