May 7, 2010
Mercy on a Mission

Michael Ollivierre wants to return home to make a contribution to his country.

The Jamaica based track and field coach, known popularly by his calypso moniker ‘Lord Have Mercy’ or ‘Mercy’ to the region and the rest of the world, would like to do so very soon so that he can assist in the area of his specialty, an area where he sees there is a lot of work to be done.{{more}}

“I’ve been looking around and I don’t want to come home when I am old and disabled. I would like to come home and make a positive donation. I really would like to do something to improve track and field in St. Vincent. I think we need serious coaching and intense competition and preparation. I intend to reshape the landscape in St. Vincent if I am going to stay here.”

Ollivierre has had a rich and successful history in track and field, having coached the St. Elizabeth Technical College in Jamaica.

He has been a national coach in Jamaica since 1983, with his boys team being the most successful male team from Jamaica in the history of the Penn Relays.

“Some of my athletes have done well internationally. People like Winthrop Graham, silver medalist in the 1992 Olympics, and up to last year the world champion in the 100m hurdles; Brigette Foster Hylton, she is one of my top athletes throughout my career and also she came to St. Vincent a few years ago to train.”

Ollivierre is currently working with the social development commission which focuses on inner city residents.

He is also the founder of the IT DAT Track Academy and is currently coaching at the Jose Marti Technical High School.

Also the former head of the OECS Sports Desk in St. Lucia, Ollivierre believes that the success he has garnered in his adoptive homeland can be extended here, but laments that a number of factors are hindering the development of his sport in his beloved country.

“I am a little bit disappointed about the progress of Track and Field in St. Vincent. I don’t think the coaches are getting a fair deal in terms of support and facility. I think the coaches are frustrated, but at the same time I think a lot of the coaches are not working hard enough. I think the coaches can work harder.”

“It has a lot to do with the absence of places to train regularly…. You can’t use Arnos Vale because it is a cricket ground, outside Arnos Vale is cricket and football and the Grammar School Playing field is just too congested.”

The former Secretary of the local Amateur Athletics Association is hoping that the currrent Keith Joseph led association can make a greater impact or a developmental impact.

Ollivierre is not only known for his coaching abilities; he is also well known on the entertainment arena for his vocal skills.

In 1980, Lord Have Mercy won the national calypso title for the then Calypso Classroom (now Graduates Calypso Tent) and promises a new, controversial song called ‘Suckers’ for the 2010 Carnival season.

His marriage to Jamaican crooner Lorna Bennett produced two children: Oje, an up and coming reggae star who performs under the name ‘Protoje’, already has a couple of songs on the charts there.

“He is a special kind of artist who is putting out some good music and I am hoping that he will be able to come to St. Vincent very soon to do a show.”

His daughter LeAnn, who is also in the entertainment business, is a cinematographer who is currently studying Law.

Among her accomplishments, she has directed two of her brother’s music videos: ‘Arguments’ and ‘Dread’.

Mercy’s current visit back home also has some sentimental value to it.

The last time Ollivierre was at home was for the funeral of his aunt, but his trip this time around coincides with the 30th anniversary of the murder of his father Ormond Ollivierre, a former arrowroot association manager who was shot and killed on April 30, 1980, while having dinner and watching television at their Rose Cottage home.

Ollivierre said that his father’s death has kept the family, which includes his mother Valcina, a brother who is an orthopedic surgeon in Florida, and a sister who is a bank manager and another, a nurse in Canada, closer together.

Though the crime remains unsolved, Ollivierre maintains that he is aware who is his father’s killer.

“I know who killed my father. I know who ordered my father’s killing…. It is not two men as they say. It was one man who killed him,” Ollivierre maintained, and added: “But I think I have gotten over it.”

Ollivierre said he is looking forward to returning home sometime soon so that he would be able to dedicate at least ten years to track and field.

“Even if it is one athlete, we must win something and create more opportunities.”

“All I need is a place to train; as long as its a 400 metre track and it’s grass I’ll be ok. It doesn’t have to be chevron, but to get that seems to be a problem.”

“This track and field is not anything seasonal, it’s an all year round thing; you can’t be a football coach, coaching the cricket team and coaching the track team.”(JJ)