Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders suggests that the English-speaking Caribbean should have a single sports academy manned by outstanding coaches, located in Jamaica, and funded by all the governments and private sectors of the Caribbean Community for elite athletes, to continue ensuring the region’s supply of future champions. He writes:
[. . .] In track and field, Caribbean athletes have shown that they are among the world’s best. This is cause for much pride by the people of these two English-Speaking Caribbean countries and their partner-countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean whose total population is just about 5 million people. The phenomenal Usain Bolt, who has spectacularly won two gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres events, and Yohan Blake, who took silver, behind him are as much heroes of their neighbouring English-speaking Caribbean countries as they are of their native Jamaica. So too are Warren Weir who gave Jamaica a clean sweep in the 200 metres by taking the bronze, and Hansle Parchment who won bronze in the 110 metre hurdles. The Jamaican women Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce (gold and silver in the 100 metres and 200 metres respectively) and Veronica Campbell Brown (bronze in the 100 metres) are also special heroines upholding the prowess of Caribbean womanhood and taking on the best of the United States.
It should be noted that, of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Tobago also won a bronze medal through Gordon Lalonde who was third in the Men’s 400 metres event. Other Caribbean athletes, such as Antigua’s Daniel Bailey and Barbados’ Ryan Brathwaite, creditably made it to the finals and semi-finals. But beyond the marvellous performances by these athletes is a reality that, apart from Jamaica, the development of sports persons in the English-speaking Caribbean countries is woefully poor. Neither governments nor the private sector in the region are contributing to the development of sports in the quantities that they should. Yet, everyone basks in the superb accomplishment of Caribbean athletes who triumph largely because of their natural talent and dedication.
Caribbean countries have been lucky to have unearthed persons with natural talent, but that talent alone will not sustain them in the future against competition from athletes from other countries whose governments and private sector are investing heavily in them precisely because they want glorious results at the Olympics and other international games. For any athlete, while a substantial part of his or her capacity resides in natural talent, they will fail if they are denied financial support, good coaching and tireless training. [. . .] Jamaica in the English-speaking Caribbean has invested more than any other country in the development of its athletics and sprinting, and it is reaping the benefit. In the case of Kirani James of Grenada, it should be recalled that he is a student at the University of Alabama in the US, where he has benefitted from the skills of a remarkable coach, Harvey Glance, and facilities that are far superior to anything in the region.
[. . .] The people of the English-speaking Caribbean have every reason to be proud of their athletes and of the impact they are making on the world, but this pride will not be sustained unless governments and the private sectors invest in the facilities these gifted athletes need. To ensure future champions, how about a single sports academy manned by outstanding coaches, located in Jamaica and funded by all the governments and private sectors of the Caribbean Community, for the region’s elite athletes?
For photo and more news on mentoring, see http://kgmi.com/Athletics-U-S-coach-inspired-Jamaican-sprint-succe/11461894?newsId=160297