What makes Jamaicans run? – Jamaica Observer

Usain Bolt

Jamaica is fast becoming the sprint capital of the world. To date, we have Usain Bolt as the fastest man alive, and Elaine Thompson-Herah, despite her recent ups and downs, is still the fastest woman alive. And it’s not just the elders who rule the helm, but also a multitude of young talents who can’t wait to follow in their wake. But what makes so many Jamaicans run so fast?

Unfortunately, there is still insufficient scientific evidence based on reliable research to show what really makes our athletes run so fast on the track. As Usain Bolt rose to the top, particularly since the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China, there has been much talk and speculation about the perceived properties of the famous Trelawny yam, but so far we’ve just “shut our mouths”, which is another dubious talent of many Jamaicans who like to talk shop.

Then again, not all of our athletes are from the land of yams, so is it the ackee and saltfish, the cartwheel dumplings, the jerk pork, the water, or is it in our DNA?

There has been much criticism of successive governments for failing to fully exploit our sporting abilities on the international stage. Just as we have allowed foreigners to “steal” our music – from ska to reggae to dancehall – while we stand aside and watch. Furthermore, it is an outright shame that our leading academic body, the University of the West Indies, while devoting a great deal of energy and resources to the issue of redress, has fallen short in the area of ​​research and development related to our sport.

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Skeptics have criticized our beloved and hard-working Secretary of Sports and Entertainment, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, for failing to create enough meaningful ways to monetize the sports and entertainment industry. Recently, during the Jamaica 60 celebrations, she hinted at a plan to build a sports museum and modernize the national stadium, among other endeavors, but one of my concerns is: Why hasn’t the government seen the need to spend something good? Money for upgrading sports facilities outside of Kingston? Kudos to the alumni/alumni associations, especially the old boys of some traditional high schools, who have sunk a lot of money into making sure the sports program at their alma mater gets the attention it deserves. I know Secretary Grange is a visionary and a pragmatist, so I urge her to pay more attention to the fact that Kingston is not Jamaica. Without a roster of dedicated coaches, many of whom struggle without considering the cost, Jamaica could not boast of our achievements in athletics.

One of the unfortunate aspects of our sporting achievements is the ‘wagonist’ mentality, according to which we are only passionate about and supporting a sport if the participants are extremely good at it. The ongoing plight of our Sunshine Girls and the Reggae Girlz is a case in point that these two entities have been unable to receive the sponsorship they deserve. Our senior team also faltered, unable to repeat their historic performance of 1998 when Jamaica qualified for the World Cup. All we do is run up with our mouths.

So, as we continue to walk and repeatedly make history on the international stage, “one meter back,” all we do is “walk up with our mouths.” And when we’re not mouthing ourselves, many of us are busy running away. It has been said that more Jamaicans live abroad than in their home country.

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Meanwhile, poll after poll has revealed that many Jamaicans would rather live and work abroad than stay here at The Rock. For example, it has been found that about 60 percent of our college graduates migrate to greener pastures over time, and just recently, outgoing President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Winston Smith, announced that hundreds of teachers are migrating to work in the United States teach states. while an even larger number are expected to go to the UK to take up posts there. The frightening thing about this mass migration of skilled educators is that many of our schools may be left without teachers in certain critical disciplines, such as math and the science subjects.

How on earth is this nation supposed to meet the goals of Vision 2030 when so many of our brightest minds are fleeing what they see as better opportunities for their well-being and career advancement? Prime Minister Andrew Holness is said to have admitted not long ago that he was aware that many of our young people want to emigrate because they don’t see a good future here.

All of this is unfolding at a time when Jamaica is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee with the motto “Reigniting a Nation for Greatness”. But it seems to me that we need to start looking beyond sheer size and focus on the quality of life for the average person. Finally, it has been said that the essence of civilization is for people to live useful and happy lives. It is very ironic and indeed sad that while millions of tourists come to Jamaica for comfort, thousands of Jamaicans are fleeing the island because of a bleak future. Even more worryingly, many retirees who had gone abroad to work and thrive and are excited to return home to spend the rest of their days in refined style and comfort are now choosing to do so to go elsewhere, including South Florida due to the climate there, as well as, interestingly, other small islands in the Caribbean.

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Just this week, the prestigious and credible Don Anderson Polls, commissioned by RJRGleaner, indicated that a majority of Jamaicans view sports and entertainment as Jamaica’s greatest achievement since independence in 1962. Nebuchadnezzar, we were on the scales weighed and found defective.

To put it bluntly, as the famous poet Michael G. Smith says, we must “build now, while time flies, move on before it’s too late.”

‘I ran away.’

Lloyd B. Smith has worked full-time in the Jamaican media for 45 years. He was also a member and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica, where he is popularly known as the governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or to [email protected]


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