Windies, Bolt, and other Athletes Place Caribbean in 2012 Global Spotlight

usain-bolt

Caribbean 360 writes that “West Indies rescaled the pinnacle of world cricket for the first time in eight years while sprint superstar Usain Bolt laid claim to legend status by once again attaining the dizzying heights of global stardom, to headline a remarkable year in Caribbean sport in 2012.” See excerpts here with a link to the full article below:

The mercurial regional side captured the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka when they beat the hosts in a pulsating final, registering their first world title since they dramatically won the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England, and adding to the back-to-back 50-over World Cup triumphs of the 1970s. For a side that had lurched from one defeat to another in a turbulent period, the victory was a welcome boost for Caribbean cricket and a much needed lift for devoted but success-starved fans.

Bolt, meanwhile, dominated the London Olympics, winning both the 100 and 200 metres to become the first ever athlete to successfully defend the titles at an Olympiad. The 26-year-old Jamaican entered the Games with his title defence shrouded in doubt following defeats at the National Championships to training partner Yohan Blake, but delivered two spellbinding performances to write his name indelibly into the record books. His heroics earned him a second straight IAAF World Athlete-of-the-Year honour, and fourth overall.

Even prior to his meltdown at the National Championships, there had been widespread speculation over Bolt’s form following lacklustre outings in the IAAF Diamond League. So when he arrived in London in late July, for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games, pundits were already writing off the Jamaican’s chances of repeating as Olympic champion. He coasted through the preliminary rounds impressively but saved his best for the night of August 5 when he produced yet another astonishing world class display, storming to a new Olympic record of 9.63 seconds to beat nemesis Blake into second place.

Four days later, Bolt was the toast of Olympic Stadium yet again, this time as he clinched the 200 metres in a world-leading and season-best 19.32 seconds, once more forcing Blake into second place. With the victory, the prodigious Bolt carved out yet another place in history. Previously, eight men had achieved the Olympic sprint double but none had successfully defended. He was quick to label himself a living legend, a title he said he would deserve once he was able to repeat as double sprint champion.

Even more outstanding for Jamaica was the fact the country swept the podium spots, as new boy Warren Weir, another member of Bolt’s Racers Track Club, claimed bronze. Bolt was not yet finished, however. On the penultimate day of the Games, the long-striding genius covered himself in even more glory with his third gold medal, anchoring the sprint relay team of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake to a new world record of 36.84 seconds. The performance marked the first time in history a team had ever dipped below 37 seconds.

Trinidad and Tobago’s team of Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Richard Thompson picked up bronze behind the Americans, an effort that typified the twin-island republic’s outstanding campaign in London that yielded a record four medals.

It was underscored by teenager Keshorn Walcott who upset his more experienced field and stunned the world by winning gold in the javelin with a throw of 84.58 metres, also on the penultimate day of competition in mid-August. There was no sign of what was to come when he qualified tenth with a measurement of 81.75 metres but once in the final, he took the lead with a special second round throw and no one could overhaul him.

With the victory, Walcott became the first athlete in 60 years from the Western Hemisphere to win gold in an Olympic javelin event and the first in 40 years to capture a medal. For Trinidad and Tobago, it was only their second ever Olympic gold medal behind the legendary Hasely Crawford who won the 100m at the 1976 Montreal Games.

Little known Lalonde Gordon snatched bronze in the men’s 400 metres and then joined the team of Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore to also hand T&T bronze in the distance relay.

A distinct Caribbean flavour was left all over the 400 metres as World champion Kirani James delivered Grenada’s first ever Olympic medal when he easily won the full lap. Entering the final as the strong favourite after former World and reigning Olympic champion American LaShawn Merritt pulled up with injury in the preliminary rounds, the 19-year-old James did not disappoint, clocking 43.94 seconds to dismiss his field. The time was not only a personal best but a new Caribbean record and it gave James the distinction of becoming the first non-American in the history of the event to break the 44-second barrier.

There was some disappointment on the women’s side, however, as only Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce could find the top of the podium.

[. . .] No such hullabaloo abounded at July’s World Junior Championships in Barcelona, where young Caribbean athletes – including Walcott – represented the region with distinction to grab 16 medals overall. Walcott, uninhibited by any thoughts of an Olympic medal quest, threw 78.64 to win gold in what proved to be a fairytale year for the 19-year-old. Delano Williams of the Turks and Caicos snatched the men’s 200 metres and there were also triumphs for Jamaican Janieve Russell in the women’s 400m hurdles and her compatriot Fedrick Dacres in the men’s discus throw.

However, it was the exploits of Bahamian sprint queen Anthonique Strachan which set the Games alight. The loose-limbed 19-year-old pulled off the incredible sprint double of the 100 and 200 metres, becoming the first woman in 12 years to do so and announcing herself as the latest world class talent to emerge from the region.

She clocked a world junior leading time of 11.20 second to win the 100 metres and returned in the 200 metres with a new championship record time of 22.53. Only three months earlier in April, Strachan had supplied the region with a foretaste of what was to come, when she blazed to the sprint double at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda. She registered a third gold of the meet, anchoring the Bahamian sprint relay team of Devynne Charlton, Carmiesha Cox and Rashan Brown to victory. Russell, Dacres and Williams were also victorious in their respective events. Jamaica again dominated the junior Games with 78 medals overall but conceded precious territory to the quickly improving Bahamians, who won three of the four relays in the Under-20 category including both sprints.

For full article, see http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/sports/651546.html#axzz2GrExqhJa

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