On Target
August 28, 2009
The Caribbean to the World

English Speaking Caribbean athletes, especially in the sprints, have once again demonstrated their prowess on the world stage.{{more}}

Their showing at the 12th World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany, took the Caribbean to the world.

Again, Jamaican Usain Bolt was the star attraction as he was at the top of his game, winning the 100 and 200m, both in record times.

For good measure, former world record holder Asafa Powell, also Jamaican, was second. Daniel Bailey from Antigua and Barbuda was fourth, and Richard Thompson from Trinidad and Tobago, fifth. Marc Burns, also from the twin island republic, finished seventh to emphasise the growing dominance of Caribbean athletes at the sprints.

As with the men’s 100m, it was one-two for the Jamaicans, and by extension the Caribbean, in the women’s contest, with Shelly-Ann Fraser taking gold and Kerron Stewart, silver.

The Jamaicans led the Caribbean one-two finishes in both sprint relay events, the 4×100 metres.

In the men’s race, Trinidad and Tobago’s runner up in Beijing last year again docked in second to the mighty Jamaicans. Among the women, the Bahamians were second.

The regional gold tally continued in the women’s 400m Hurdles when Olympic champion Melaine Walker ran the second-fastest time ever – 52.42 seconds. Josanne Lucas of Trinidad and Tobago placed third.

Jamaican veteran Brigitte Foster-Hylton thumped a high quality field to win gold in the 100-metre Hurdles.

Jamaica overall ended with seven gold, four silver and two bronze medals.

Also, Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados brought that country its first gold medal, winning the 110m Hurdles.

Indeed another plus for the English speaking Caribbean’s abilities!

The dominance of Bolt and his band of Jamaicans has surely put the Caribbean in focus. His heroics have opened up the debate as to the greater impact on international appeal against the late Reggae icon Bob Marley.

The current Caribbean representation has taken the baton from the likes of Donald Quarrie, Herb Mc Kinley, Hasely Crawford and Merlene Ottley, just to name a few, who had earlier left their imprints on the world stage.

Despite the inherent individualism that exists among the islands of the Caribbean, the region’s population was well represented in Germany.

But in all the euphoria at the games, St. Vincent and the Grenadines did not even come in for honourable mention.

But do you know that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was represented by Kineke Alexander in Berlin? Another of the best kept secrets by those in authority for disseminating information to the public.

As it is here, Track and Field Athletics seems to be not too far from its death bed. So if the Mother of all Sports is almost brain dead, then eulogies will soon follow.

While we yearn for some limelight, St. Kitts and Nevis has produced Kim Collins, Grenada, Alleyne Fransique, and now the emerging Kirani James. Please take note of James, a 400m specialist. St. Lucia boasts of high jumper Levern Spencer, long jumper Shara Proctor of Anguilla, and Dominican sprinter Chris Lloyd.

When will we as Vincentians be able to hold our hands up at the international stage and be counted?

Alexander and durable long distance Pamenos Ballantyne have carried on thus far, but not far enough to international recognition, much more stardom.

Ballantyne, though, has excelled on the regional road racing scene for more than a decade. Middle distance teenager Delhonni Nicol-Samuel is our next best prospect.

Success is not a fly by night achievement, as those who have tasted it will attest. but does this country have the will and the skill to emulate others in the region?

Not so either for the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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