Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Jamaica - Old Jamaica

No doubt most global track and field fans are currently caught up in "Bolt Mania" as the über-talented Jamaican gold medalist continues his quest for the 100M/200M double win in Berlin. Bolt broke his own world record on Sunday and competes in the 200M semi-finals Wednesday August 19.

But back in Jamaica, the headlines speak of the nation's intractable problems: violence, crime, gang warfare. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Golding is noticeably absent in responding to a recent up tick in murders.

Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser, who also won gold in Berlin in the 100M race, spoke about how she hopes to represent a positive image of Jamaica to the world.

“We are young and we have so much fire burning in us for our country. People hear about Jamaica and they hear about crime and corruption and all that, and we want to create a better image. Track and field is the way we are doing it.

“We love track, and love making Jamaica happy.”

Jamaicans celebrated Bolt's win in true Jamrock fashion. One reveler summed it all up: "To di wurl, I knew he could win it and I knew he could break the record because he did it before and everybody know that he can go faster."

LetsRun posted good video reactions to Bolt's 100 victory, with many top athletes praising the 22 year-old Jamaican's achievements.

Even the data-crunchers have gotten into the act, charting how Bolt has "changed the game," going so far as to analyze his every step.

Bolt and Fraser both come from tough neighborhoods, and in a sense, represent the aspirations of Jamaicans under 30. That is, to compete fairly on the world stage just as their athletes do.

Also of note in the Women's 100M final in Berlin -- Aleen Bailey, Capleton's very fast half-sister. She didn't medal, but has enjoyed a strong multi-year career for Team JA.