Wrenford Thaffe (Jamaica, AC07-09)
This summer, Jamaica made history at the games of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China. The tropical island, nestled in the Caribbean region, proved to the world that reggae and tourism are not the only sectors we excel in. The country took the games by storm, as it recorded an historic 11 medal win, totaling 6 golds, 3 silver and 2 bronze. In addition, thousands of fans in the Bird’s Nest Stadium witnessed Jamaica’s excellence on the tracks. Usain Bolt was the star of the games. The young man finished after claiming three world records and the title, “The Fastest Man on Earth.”
Jamaica’s athletic tradition
It came as a surprise to many, that a nation of just 3 million people could have so much impact on the world of athletics. However, Jamaica has been excelling in athletics for decades now. The country made its first ever Olympic appearance at the London Olympics in 1948, and astonished everyone by winning 1 gold and 2 silvers. These were won by Arthur Wint and Herbert McKenly, who pioneered what turned out to be our country’s great sprinting tradition. Jamaica has over the year maintained this tradition, by nurturing its children while exposing them to athletics at an early age. Children who display exceptional athletics talent are often recommended to schools such as Kingston College, which are geared towards that area of sports. Nevertheless, those who are not so talented are not deterred from the joys of the game. Whether by having sprints in the street corners or challenging a friend in a race home after school, the spirit of athletics is kept alive right across the island.
Highlights of Jamaica’s performance in Beijing
During the Olympic opening ceremony, Jamaicans home and abroad witnessed with pride the countries flag, among 203 others in the Bird’s Nest Stadium Veronica Campbell-Brown, the nation’s most out-standing performer in Athens, Greece, four years ago, bore the black, green and gold and marched with pride into what turned out to be an historic moment. The Olympic team consisted of 57 men and women from all over the island. However, most Jamaicans had their eyes on sprinting sensations, Usain Bolt who holds the record as the fastest man in the 100 meters sprint and Asafa Powell, who once held the record now held by Bolt. The favorites for the women were Veronica Campbell-Brown, who was the star in Athens four year ago, and upcoming champion, Melaine Walker, a diva in the 400m hurdles.
For the first few days of the Olympics, the island secured no medals, mainly because it had no one contending in the first events. However, when the Black, green and gold touched the tracks, there was always an impact.
On Saturday, 16th of August, the 21 years old Bolt, demolished the track in the 100 m, smashing his previously held record, in an unbeatable 9.69 seconds. Onlookers were wowed at the 6 ft 5` sprinter, who pulled away from his contenders few seconds after the start. Having securing the gold, Bolt celebrated his victory early. Putting his hands down and patting the Jamaica Logo. That moment, he echoed the joy shared by a whole nation
He never stopped here, but went ahead four days later and set another record; this time in the 200m.He broke the 12 year-old record of 19.32 seconds previously held by Michael Johnson. His victory was marked by him running around the field with his flag and greeting onlookers. This was followed by him performing, some famous Jamaican dancing, including the “90s Rock” and “Gully Creeper.”
Looking into the camera, he said the words, “I am number one”. He was later criticized for poor sportsmanship; nevertheless, he is still number one.
Asafa Powell got the chance to redeem himself in the men’s 4 by 100m relays. His team which comprised of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell took the Gold in a record time of 37.10 seconds. Usain ‘lightening’ Bolt had now managed to secure 3 world records.
In the women events, Jamaica’s excellence still shone. Shelly-Ann Fraser took gold in the 100m,Veronica Campbell-Brown, gold in the 200m and hurdles sensation, Melaine Walker, took the champion’s title as well, for the 400m.
Congratulations to all 57 members of the Jamaican Olympic Team.
11 medals! Well done Jamaica!
The future of athletics in Jamaica Athletic s unites the country. During Olympics, no crime was reported; everyone was glued to the TV screens. Radios were stuck on BBC, so the highlights of the game could be heard. When news came of the Jamaica’s performance, one mobile phone company gave free call credits to its customers. It was momentous occasion. Watch out for a new Jamaican dance entitled, “The Usain Bolt”.
All I can say is, all the best Jamaica, and continue to shine athletes.
Jamaica to the wurl!!!
-United World College Student Magazine-