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Happy FEET 2
Why so famous?
All grown up!
We've already touched the reasons as to why ordinary Jamaicans run so fast for such a rudimentary nation. But let’s now look at why Jamaicans who are professional athletes compete so well, along with what they may experience throughout their career. Let’s explore the canopies of glory on a leather track perspired with dew from the speeding legs of a Jamaican on his way to victory. Flashing cameras blinds him as he tries to catch his breath after a brilliant celebration around the stadium. Jamaica! Jamaica! The stadium shrieks; a Swedish child sees the crowd and joins the chant, Jamaica a word he’ll tell his friends about.
Before I leap into some of what drives a Jamaican athlete, let’s first delve into the history of success from previous Jamaicans.
Yes Jamaica has been hosting its own little Olympics since 1905, however we first we came to the real thing in 1948 and it was at this out first Olympics as some anonymous island won 1 gold and a bronze. From here we've had many other track stars who have set the foundations for many athletes; stealing their way into the hearts of many young boy and girl. Here is table identifying some of these athletes.
Athletic Role Models (Gold Medalists)
Little Usain Bolt?
Fuels for success
Jamaican athletes fuel for success may be among many things but below are some of the factors that should serve as driving factors:
- Reputation: Imagine if you emanated from a race that produces prolific athletes, your mother was a hurdler, your father a 400 hundred runner from his younger days at champs or maybe your hero was the great 200m runner (Donald Quarrie); wouldn't these factors act as fuel for success? (A pulling force). In addition to that you would be involuntarily subjected to high criticism and encouragement from 2.8 million people in every important race you run; factors of effectual positive reinforcement.
- Zeal from youth: From my last Hub I explained how important and exciting it was to most Jamaican youth to be engaged in athletics. The zeal that we feel incipient to setting in our imaginary blocks on an asphalt road is superbly incremented once we find ourselves competing at High School Champs. This is exponentially amplified when the surreal becomes real and we find ourselves facing an international crowd, adrenaline upturns and the stadium lies in immense suspension at the starting blocks; nowhere beats showing off here! It is this youthful zeal that act as a supplier of passion and dedication when in the face of any adversity our professional career might throw at us. “Just remember how much you used to love racing down the orange walk.” The Jamaican athlete tells himself as he runs his last breathe in training; keeled inverted on a field of grass.
- Coaches: This next is by far one of the most important factors in the lives of many Jamaican athletes. Regardless of how much talent a Jamaican can have, without a good coach our athletes would by misguided missiles. If you placed gunpowder in a barrel and lit, it would just explode in all directions. However if you manage the concept more effectively and channel the explosion with a single escape route and a small metal at the end, you would get a firing gun! Yes our athletes are world class but our coaches are equally topnotch as well. I’ve even seen where athletes such as Delano Williams (A former Champs star) from Mannings High school now running for Britain has decided to go back to his coach at his Almata, just because of the backseat his recent professional career has taken. A coach can be the secret ingredient to many athletes success and if you listen to how many of them speak of their coaches you’ll see what I mean.
Usain Bolt's Track
Usain Bolt with his coach.
Athlete’s transgression Phase
Now having been a fan of athletics for a long period of time, I have come to realize a trend that has followed many athletes and even so maybe our great Usain Bolt. I’ve divided these phases as follows.
- Breaking the ground-Successes impassioned:
- The first time a Jamaican athlete becomes professional, they’re filled with zeal and are astronomical purposed to take on the world. A challenge from anyone is the next best thing to earning some money at the end of the race. Everything is new and exciting; living in a dream that you’ve been having from a young age. It is here they make incomprehendible /naïve but valiant and rousing promises to themselves and the world. “I expect to go below ( )” Stephanie McPherson promised the news reporter. This is the point in most athlete’s lives when they will more or likely run faster and be more successful than any other time in their career. And according to my observations, this period normally lasts at most three years on average. And if an athlete had transgressed straight from his or her junior career, for them this period would have ended nearing 24 years of age. However like many things in the world there are anomalies- Bridget foster Hylton who ran her PB at the age of 36 and enjoyed some of the best years then in her career then, except for her woeful crash against an hurdle to end her days in athletics. Some Jamaicans including myself thought she would have ran a WR time then.
- A Shift in interests- career smothered by success (money) the birth of a static lifestyle:
- The juvenile or a better word for it, Impassioned phase, is quickly overshadowed by unprecedented riches, fame and power for many athletes. It is here they find themselves struggling to hold on to the young boy or girl inside them, still gleeful of the basic ideal of being an athlete. Money becomes the premier criterion for races. Coaches and management starts to decide when and where you should run. Your chances of racing in an event is now judged by a dollar figure. The young man or girl you knew would probably protest your new ideals; however you’re just too shrouded by the green paper to notice a rift in your interests. Training becomes more difficult because you used to be impassioned about your races. Instead now you cogitate how much money you’ll be able to make this year. It is here that the careers of many Jamaican athletes become robotic and a lackluster construct of unexciting, passion-killing management. Your youthful goals are cut short. “I dream to one day run in the 9.40s.” Usain Bolt comments. This phase generally lasts for an average of 3-4 years or up to the age of 28-29. These phases obviously would deviate in accordance to an athlete’s event, for example athletes who do the throws don’t generally go well into their 30s unless they’re good. This brings me to my next step.
- An athletic flat line- here the athletes struggle to surpass or even achieve a regular performance.
- After passing through these two phases an athlete will generally start feeling the effects of nature. Age will begin to take its toll on them and not only that but their youthful zest would have outlived its warranty. Their thirsts for other goals will become dominant and their athletic career recessive. A woman for example would want to start a family at this point in her life or a man may want to start a business or try to unearth his sidelined career path, now that he has scaled the mountains of success; Asapha Powell for example who now is concentrating on his company IrieJam. This is why I believe that it is extremely crucial for an athlete to try to do as much as they can during the peaks of their career. This is my advice to many and any athlete out there.
Do you believe that athletes do their best in the beginning of their career?
Merlene Ottey-We hold records even with age!
Apart from the purpose of this hub did you know that a Jamaican is now also the fastest in the pool!!!!!!!!!!!!Read about it in my next hub.