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Why does Jamaica continue to excel in Athletics?

Updated on July 28, 2014

Despite , the small populations and financial limitations of the Caribbean countries , this archipelago never ceases to impress with the amount of world class talents it produces in international sport. It statistically seems impossible or at least unusual how many of these countries can produce many talents when the populations aren’t very big . Indeed this means that the selection and production of these talents are based on efficiency and the ability of coaches to assess the athletes’ abilities.

Some examples of great athletes produced from the Caribbean are Kirani James, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kenwyne Jones , Kim Collins and more notably Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt.

Although a more extensive list of athletes from the Caribbean was not provided, it would still be easy to notice a trend in the number of Jamaicans present in such a list. This is not a fluke or in anyway a bias. Jamaica is quite simply one of the most impressive countries in the world in producing world class athletes especially in sprinting. However, how are they able to produce such talents on a perennial basis ?

Firstly, for us to be fully enlightened , we me must examine the modus operandi of the sports systems and organizations in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is able to produce good athletes because of the organizations that each country possesses – they facilitate and stimulate development of sport at schools. The organizations and schools in the Caribbean work together effectively to find the best talents in the countries via local competitions , development events and school events.

Most Caribbean countries do not have top-quality equipment or state-of-the-art facilities to run fast but that is not a problem when schools have the ability to arrange and organize sprint races for students to participate in.

Many sports such as football, cricket, netball and track and field are major sports in countries like Jamaica , so the schools place more emphasis and concentration of these sports. This allows for more specialization for athletes because there is not a wide variety of sports to choose from.

It is said that in Jamaican schools, young children are prohibited from running races over two hundred metres , so they do not have ambitions of becoming long-distance runners.

In Jamaica, the sports school system is tailored more for track and field. The most promising athletes enroll at schools with the best track schedules and programs. Annually, there is a competition held known as the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys and Girls Athletics Championship that is held at the National Stadium . This multi-sport event is notorious in Jamaica and has proved to be a competition where talents have been recognized.

Additionally, when Jamaica initially found their success they tried to capitalize on their success by giving the most promising athletic students scholarships to go abroad and matriculate at American sports schools . Theoretically, this seemed to be a sensible idea because the athletes were expected to improve on their educational and athletic development during their time. However, when these Jamaican athletes did return from university , this theory proved to be incorrect because the athletes didn’t seem to have drastically improved during their time at these schools. So more recently, the generation of Jamaican athletes that we have seen from this country have come from the college athletics programs that have been provided by the universities in Jamaica and also the track clubs in Jamaica.

Lastly, the amazing production line of athletes in Jamaica will continue because many of the top athletes when they retire, subsequently become coaches and share their experience, techniques and training methods to the younger generations,

Fun & Interesting Fact – Jamaica has won 67 Olympic medals since 1948 and an incredible 66 of them are for athletics ; more specifically for sprinting!

Does your country have a similar system in place?

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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      You fail to mention the performance enhancing drugs which a number of Jamaican athletes have been found guilty of using too- yes theres talent but it seems many are willing to take a 'boost' to get to where they want to be.


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