Jamaica is the world’s leading athletics sprint nation. Of course, that country boasts Usain Bolt, the greatest in history over the 100 meters and 200 meters distances.
But, other than Bolt, there just seems to be this revolving door through which extremely swift males and females have gone through and continue to do so, on a constant basis.
In the 1940s, Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint, showcased the Caribbean to the world with their exploits at the 1948 Olympics. Wint and McKenley were first and second in the 400 meters final: and Wint was second in the 800 meters.
Four years later in 1952, the Caribbean regional super stars were emphatic again. With George Rhoden and Les Laing, they won the 1600 meters relay; Rhoden won the 400 meters and McKenley was got another silver; Wint was second again in the 800 meters; and McKenley was second in the 100 meters.
Through the years, Jamaica, with Keith Gardiner, Dennis Johnson, Merlene Ottey, Lennox Miller, Grace Jackson, Don Quarrie and so many others, all the way to the current era, continued the trend of leading the Caribbean on the world stage in athletics.
Johnson of course, complimented an outstanding sprint career that saw him at one time, hold the world 100 yards record of 9.3. He later became the architect of the modern and iconic Jamaican athletic program.
It is from such a historic backdrop that Bahamians have been associated with the track and field program in our sister island. Not much-publicized as a location Bahamian use to advance their athletic skills as the case with the United States, nevertheless, Jamaica has been instrumental as an avenue of progress for Bahamian athletes.
Many Bahamians have continued their education, high school and at an advanced level, in Jamaica.
So, it was quite surprising when I was informed last week that six families had turned down full high school scholarship rides in Jamaica, for their children. Yes, I was informed that arrangement had been made for six young Bahamians to be fully accommodated on high school scholarships, but they did not accept. Now, obviously the decision makers had their reasons. I wish to point out here though, that presently Jamaica has the best development program for track and field in the world.
Other than the sprints, Jamaicans are rapidly rising to world standards in field events and distances.
The United States will always have the glamor and seem more enticing, but, for local families with a child or more, possessing track and field talents, all things considered, Jamaica would not be a bad option.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com).
Published Monday, January 9, 2017