No T&T plan for sporting 'gold'
to qualify for the Olympics is a major accomplishment and whether we medal or not our athletes are deserving of praise and appreciation.
We must be honest and admit that we really hope to win medals and seeing Jamaica do so well and having our fingers crossed for Lalonde Gordon, must make us assess critically our own status and performance.
I am of the view that we should pick a sporting discipline and hone that, hone that, hone that, rather than send athletes to compete in whatever variety of sporting disciplines they fit.
In the same way the Chinese have become a force to reckon with in gymnastics, Jamaica is a force to reckon with in track, I believe, given our size and limitations, we should attempt to specialise.
If we are to assess our Olympic performance over the years we will note that we gave up the jumpstart we had by not following through with the steps required to hone what had been accomplished.
On our first time at the Olympics, Rodney Wilkes won a medal in weightlifting; more than 60 years later, what has been done to develop this sport?
We once had world class cyclists like Ian Atherly, Roger Gibbon, and Leslie King. What has been done to hone our skills in this sport?
Ato Boldon has won four Olympic medals, Hasely Crawford pulled a gold out of the air, Richard Thompson won silver last Olympics, yet Jamaica and T&T is tearing up the track. George Bovell won bronze in the 2008 Olympics, but for the other talented swimmers what access to the sport do they have if their parents cannot afford the club fees, gear costs, trainers etc?
Like with everything else we do, we do not seem to have a plan. If we did have a plan, I can't imagine why we do not have sporting schools and after-school sporting programmes that are accessible to all regardless of money. If we do have a plan, I can't imagine why the Atos, Gibbons and Bovells have not been offered coaching and sports-motivation contracts.
If we did have a plan, I can't understand why we would choose basketball—a sport that we have not nationally excelled in—along with a foreign mentor, as a means of propelling youth motivation when we could have used something like cricket and our own Daren Ganga.
Consider without a national plan and a progressive development of sport what we have accomplished and not held close and dear and honed over the years to maintain ourselves as a force. Jean Pierre led our team to World Championships in netball but now concrete buildings take over our girls' schools courtyards making more room for classrooms. The West Indies cricket team, once unstoppable, now an improbable winner.
Like with everything else, we are running ad hoc behind whatever is the fashion of the day and not investing the time, money, patience and energy into building one thing into excellence.
I can think of nothing that we started off excelling in that has been honed through the years and remains today, going from strength to strength, power to power. Sport? No. Mas? No. Dance? No. Music? No.
What makes this even harder to understand is that we are a rich country full of dynamic, creative people and until we understand how to translate this into plans, performance and results, we will continue to give away our goods instead of manufacturing our goods to compete on the world market.
Even if we do medal this year, let's remember, we medalled last year, but there is only so much inspiration a people can gain from one medal, one athlete, one moment; progression of a country requires mechanics as well as inspiration.