There is hope for the future after Bolt retires

Friday, August 04, 2017

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Ten days of what we expect to be exciting track and field competition open today with the 16th staging of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in London, England.

Of course, all Jamaica, and indeed the world, will be focused on Dr The Honourable Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who, through his legendary achievements, has left no doubt in anyone's mind that he is the greatest sprinter of all time.

The eight-time Olympic gold medallist, who has 11 world gold medals to his name and is the world record holder in the 100m and 200m, has said this will be his final competitive outing. He, therefore, will compete only in the 100m and 4x100m relay.

It is no secret that when Mr Bolt finally hangs up his spikes the sporting world will miss him. After all, he is not only a tough competitor, he is a showman who energises legions of spectators across the world, on and off the track.

Indeed, that very point was made this week by IAAF President Sebastian Coe. “What we will miss is the personality,” Lord Coe is reported as saying. “We do want athletes with personality. It's nice to have someone who has a view and fills the room and fills a stadium.”

“Usain Bolt is a genius. I can't think, other than Muhammad Ali, of anybody that has so had an impact inside or beyond their sport. You can have the Friday-night-in-the-pub conversations about who is the best footballer or tennis player, but there is no argument about this guy in sprinting,” Lord Coe added.

Every accolade extended to Mr Bolt is well deserved because he has harnessed his God-given talent with hard work, dedication and a never-say-die attitude which has brought global success.

While we wish Mr Bolt all the best at this championship and hope that he will successfully defend his 100m and 4x100m titles, we also extend best wishes to the entire Jamaican team. For they represent the future of this island's track and field programme that is no doubt improving each year — from the school level all the way to the senior rung.

It is therefore incumbent on us as a nation to secure and strengthen this programme as it will not only bring glory to our youngsters but will all so mould their character and, if the authorities know what they are doing, improve the island's economy.

For instance, the global popularity of Mr Bolt should have already pushed the Government and its relevant agencies to develop a visitor attraction in his hometown of Sherwood Content in Trelawny. This, of course, could have been done with his input to ensure that the economic benefits are shared by the community and the State.

It is still not too late to embark on such a venture, for which funds can be found, as we saw how easy it was to allocate $600 million to a de-bushing programme last year.

There is, of course, more that can be done to benefit from the popularity and achievements of our athletes. Jamaica is too rich in talent to let such an opportunity slide.

So, as we celebrate the achievements of our team over the next 10 days, let us do so with the future growth and development of our beloved country in mind.

Good luck to all.




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