When the Olympic Games opened in the English capital two weeks ago, fans expected a treat; and they got many. The highlight was the reemergence or reintroduction of the Caribbean to the Games, as if one were needed. Jamaica had its breakout party in Beijing, China in 2008, stealing the spotlight from track powerhouse, the USA. On this occasion we had more of the same, but other Caribbean states made their own statement. For instance, gold medals in the men's 400m, men's 400m hurdles, men's 4x400m and men's javelin went to the region.
From a Jamaica standpoint, our athletes were magnificent. 'Terror of the Track' Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce got us to a resounding start with a terrific stretch drive to snatch the women's 100m gold in 10.75secs; that was pure guts, plain and simple. She was left in the blocks, but she ran down her opponents to become one of a handful of athletes, male or female, to defend any sprint title. The infectious Fraser-Pryce went on to win two more medals: silvers in the 200m, behind favorite Allyson Felix, and in the women's sprint relay behind the USA's world record.
The Jamaican foursome ran a great national record of 41.41secs - the third best time ever run! Her compatriot Veronica-Campbell-Brown won the 100m bronze and was a member of the relay. She surrendered her 200m title in placing outside the medals in the final; the dreaded fourth. But her position as one of the most decorated runners in history is assured. The Jamaican women, as usual, were favorites for a 4x400m relay medal. They did not disappoint, finishing behind the depth-laden USA and perennial thorn in the side, Russia.
Although the entire team was exceptional, the men were 'beastlike.' Led by triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who lit up the track on his way to becoming a certified legend, they competed fearlessly. Bolt blew away the field to repeat his 100m title in 9.63secs, an Olympic record and the third best time ever run. His teammate Yohan Blake ran on gamely to take the silver medal in 9.75secs – repeating his personal best. In this high class field, Jamaica's third finalist Asafa Powell, pulled up after being among the leaders for half of the race. This was the greatest 100m race ever run, featuring five of the fastest men of all time.
Like clockwork, the Big Man Bolt tore away from the pack to take the 200m crown, and in a Jamaican sweep, led Blake and newcomer Warren Weir home – clocking the fourth best time ever – 19.32secs. The men's 4x100m relay closed the show with a fantastic world record of 36.84secs win. The USA equaled the previous best of 37.04secs for silver but, it was no contest. New kid on the block, Hansle Parchment ran on for third in the men's sprint hurdles in setting his second national record of the championships in 13.12secs. Attach a bullet to his name; he will go very far in this sport.
Not All Joy
It was not all joy on the track however. The administrative staff must explain the reason behind Jermaine Gonzales inclusion in the 4x400m relay although it was reported that he was injured. This cost us another probable medal, but more than that, it jeopardized the athlete's chances of a speedier recovery. I also believe that Powell was not well enough to compete in the 100m although he finished third at Trials. Powell, a fan favorite should be tasked to get necessary treatment, which would serve his interest and that of the national team, which could find a worthy substitute.
And what about Melaine Walker? A study is needed on her performance and the subsequent press conference. It was bad all around. An explanation should be in order. Kudos to Foster-Hylton for being a tremendous Jamaican asset. And best of luck as you sail into private life.
The Jamaican Government, it is reported, is planning a welcome-home party for the track ambassadors. Half-Way Tree, the Stadium and every corner of Jamaica is in for a treat. Welcome home team!