Our Readers' Opinions
September 20, 2016
Olympic reflections – saluting our Caribbean athletes


This article was intended for two weeks prior. However, unforeseen challenges have led to its delay.

The 2016 Olympics have not too long concluded in Rio (Brazil). Despite the challenges (political, medical, criminal) which presented themselves, I think Brazil did an excellent job as host. I want to congratulate all the athletes (and coaches) who participated in the Olympics, this splendid display of the human anatomy in motion. I specifically want to salute our Caribbean athletes who represented the region wonderfully. The Jamaicans spearheaded a Caribbean contingent, stretching from the Bahamas in the north to Guyana in the South, that simply rocked the world (again).{{more}}

Our athletes created many magical moments; I thoroughly enjoyed Usain Bolt’s confidence, his mental attitude and energy throughout the games, stamping his authority on the 100 and 200 metres. The chemistry between Bolt and the Canadian sprinters Andre De Grasse was interesting, especially in the 200 metres heat.

Shelly Ann Fraser-Price showed true grit and discipline in competing with an injury. It was good to see her on the track. Elaine Thompson was absolutely amazing, winning the 100 metres in style, but it was in the 200 metres that she showed determination and class, completely closing down Schippers, who tumbled into second place. There was a little lion(ess) from Jamaica in the 110 metres hurdles. This young lady is quite petite, but her spirit and enthusiasm – very large.

During an interview, she stated that before a race she would imagine herself being a lion(ess). I was impressed with her technique, which was very good for someone of her small stature. Watch out for the lion(ess) in the future. Jamaica won the 110 metres (male); that was good to watch.

Grenada was well represented by Kirani James in the 400 metres and the brothers in the decathlon. Kirani missed out on the gold, but secured the silver.

I was particularly excited to see the St Lucians in the high jump finals. They did well. Equally impressive was the young female decathlete from Barbados, Akela Jones. It is obvious that she has some home-work to do in her high jump technique, but she is so naturally gifted, it would be interesting to see her polished form. It was good to see the athletes from Trinidad and Tobago shining, notably Michelle-Lee Ahye, the sprinter, Cleopatra Borel, the shot putter, who despite her age, showed what commitment can do. Kishorn Walcott still brought home a medal, even in the face of strong competition.

What was really refreshing to see was the increasing number of black female athletes embracing their ethnic roots and sporting natural hair styles. This made them look even more beautiful.

(Personally) there was one turn-off. As a Caribbean person, I saw the Caribbean athletes competing and there was a natural inclination to support and connect with these athletes. However, when they’re interviewed, they sound very foreign. At that point I experienced some disappointment, which encouraged a different energy somewhat. We know that a lot of our Caribbean athletes go abroad on athletic scholarships, for training etcetera. Nevertheless, we Caribbean people have a unique culture, a rhythm, which defines our identity; for example: the way we walk and the way we talk.

So, by choosing to speak American, Canadian or whatever, our athletes seem to have ‘traded’ their identity and this is sad. The thing is, this is a choice, because there are persons from the Caribbean living outside the region for years and still speak Caribbean. It reminds me of the song done by the ‘Trade Winds” years ago about the typical scenario of putting a Caribbean person in (America, Canada, and England) and they transform overnight.

The irony is persons who are not from the Caribbean actually adore the colourful nature of the Caribbean lingo(es). Of course, there is the exception where an athlete is born outside the region, but because of a privilege, whereby a parent is from the Caribbean, the athlete chooses to represent that particular Caribbean country. This is quite commendable and can be good for the region. Interestingly though, Usain Bolt still trains at home and his coach is from the Caribbean.

Representing one’s country is always honourable and to the athletes from St Vincent and the Grenadines who were charged with that responsibility, we say you have done well and to keep training. I want to appeal to the relevant authorities to build a stadium with modern facilities meeting international requirements and standards. Our Vincentian athletes continue to be at a serious disadvantage compared to the athletes in the other territories of the region. We know and have seen the necessity for and benefits of sports and culture around the world. In the region we have shining examples. I want to encourage the athletes (future Olympians) of St Vincent and the Grenadines to keep training and don’t give up! Never give up! WE NEED OUR STADIUM!!