THE KING & QUEEN IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE USA.

Jamaica suffered a cardiac arrest on Saturday afternoon. Bolt lost the M100m at the #LondonWorldChampionships2017.  It was the anti-climax to the biggest farewell party, over 2 years in the planning, for an athlete that has single handed mesmerized the world with human speed.

The social ripples were far reaching. The economic even worse. Downing strong cues of #Wray&NephewAppletonRum, the nation tried to recover turning their attention to their new sprint queen #ElaineThompson who for sure would save face and restore the shine of the sprint power on the right feet. The King suffered a major set back on the left. We have a Queen. No worries. The name of honour is more important than death.

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Men’s 100m final at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images)

Sunday, August 6. Jamaica’s Independence Day, 55 years old. Jamaica suffered another cardiac arrest. Elaine Thompson fizzled in the W100m final and came 5th, not even earning a medal.  The silence across the nation was deafening. I stood in Montego Bay and felt the silence as far as Kingston.  Exactly 9 years after the coronation of the nation in Beijing as the #sprintfactory,  the King and Queen was now dead. And technically, so did the Jamaican track and field program.

What happened?.

in 2008 after years of US dominance, the atmosphere putrid by swirls of drug incensed clouds in the US camp, Jamaica tipped the balance of power in their favour, led by #Bolt The King, and his cadre of team members and #Shelly-Ann Fraser, the newly crowned queen of track and field. The politics of power in athletics is like the global political game of present players, the US and the others. The US commands enormous political power in athletics. Amidst accusations of nefarious circumstances, their athletes are usually given the benefit of the doubt by their governing US body. And even if found guilty of using substances, deals are broken with the convicted, names are shamed, persons outed, suspensions reduced and voila, the athlete is back on the circuit in lesser time than other athletes of other countries that usually suffer stiffer penalties, including life bans.

Such was the case of the man who beat Bolt at the Championships, #JustinGatlin. His story is chronicled and followers of track and field have openly expressed their displeasure with him, including Bolt. So it was not at all surprising when the stadium. full of some 50,000 persons booed when he was declared the winner of the race. Why HIM? Anyone else would be easier to swallow, but not HIM!

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Justin Gatlin of the USA reacts after winning the men’s 100m final at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, Britain, 05 August 2017. (Getty Images)

Fresh wounds were open. The cheat won. The bastard of Athletics beats the boy wonder. A Russian journalist intimated in her question later at the presser with Bolt and Gatlin and Bolt surprisingly defended Gatlin. If you were watching this warm and fuzzy BBF moment between the two, you would have wondered when since these two were such close buddies?

In the geopolitical arena, Russia is no friend of the US. In the politics of athletics, the US is no friend of Jamaica. Can we say nice things to each other? Yes, we can. But Bolt was attempting to cross that sensitive line and incorrectly thought the journalist was casting doubt on his performances. Bolt should have known better. Each man should have spoken for himself when that ugly topic was raised. Gatlin basked in Bolt’s answer clearly happy that he didn’t have to relive and retry that case of his drug conviction and suspension.

Bolt did not do himself any favours then as he didn’t do any earlier on the track. For the first time in his long and storied career, Bolt was embarrassed. Genuinely embarrassed. His personal motto is ‘Anything is possible. I don’t think limits“. As a pro, he knows that possibilities are erased to certainty when hard work is put in the mix.

Bolt did not put in the hard work and it showed. Hard work was not mixed with need. Bolt did not ‘need’ this anymore. His lust for athletics died in Rio and through agonising pressure, he went on his final preparation but it was without energy, drive or feelings. His friend died as well, not having heard about it but was physically there when it happened. Bolt was mentally out of it. Bolt was not hungry but the champion that he is, performing with confidence is not his weakness. And so he appeared in London with his panache,  knowing he had no clothes.

Bolt was half the man he was in 2008. Quarter the man he was in 2012 and not himself in 2017. #ElaineThompson, however, is still a shocker. Only she knows the answers and we hope her coach and her will have a come to Jesus moment in the next few days. Her sponsors certainly will. Losing is one thing for the country. It’s a totally different thing for a sponsor. Like any job, athletics has its stresses.

Athletics is a business. Period.

Athletes are paid to run and to be successful.  Elaine lost thousands of dollars for her unexpected loss. Her coach will certainly have an answer but you can expect sponsors will be watching Frano’s camp closely as well as the Mills camp. Money goes where champions are bred.

Behind the glamour and spectacle lies a business and at this #WorldChampionships Jamaica has damaged itself. By not meeting their own standards The US has gladly taken the reigns once again and can now hang their banner reading  “Sprint King & Queen”. The King is dead.  There is no one to replace him. The Queen is dead. There is no one to replace her.Like a falling star, Jamaica tumbles into the abyss once again waiting for young talent to emerge.  The effects will be devastating but nothing we can’t handle.

Soon, athletes will have to make hard decisions. Coaches too.  The Governing body has to do a post mortem. and rid itself of the politics that strangles common sense decision making. Jamaica Athletics has been sitting on its lofty post for 9 years unaware that the World was coming after them.  The US never stopped hating. Now we have South Africa, Botswana. Kenya. Bahamas. China and even Japan knocking at the gates. We cannot afford to mismanage this opportunity. Our economy is too fragile for carelessness.

This industry is too new for bad management and too fragile for mediocrity. Whenever our athletes put their feet on the world stage it has to be perfect. No errors. No excuses.

Bolt was asked at the presser what was it he is looking forward to when this is over. He replied, “..for me, it is just to live normal. To have no training. To do whatever I want. To travel whenever I want. I don’t know where my career will go or what I will do but I look forward to it and the person that I am I will do it at my best.”

He was confident when he said those words.

If only Jamaica’s athletics was as confident to say otherwise.

© 2017. Kwesi. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

DOUBTING THOMAS AND TEAM JAMAICA

  It took months of preparation and weeks of boring meetings with a room full of wannabes and pretenders to all things good for track and field Jamaica. 

The agony listening to respective comments from ‘expert’ advice from these dead weights can only be surpassed by the actual series of events that no one, not even the experts could have foreseen or even predicted. The Jamaican Olympic trails was in all intent and purposes, a complete disaster.

Many may not characterize the event as such. They may look at some of the performances and give the track and field weekend a thumbs up. Little Christopher from Calabar going up against the big boys was a track and field enthusiast track candy. 

I agree. Yes it was awesome and so were other accomplishments including the “Return of The Beast” but it was more a test of aptitude for Chris than a match up for salacious fans. 

The organizers knew what they were doing or wanted to do. Their main goal was to put all their track rabbits headed by their big hares to race in one spectacular track and field festival , pulling out massive crowds, earning lots of money and showcasing to the world the strength and power of the Jamaican sprint factory. Instead the plan exploded and instead showcased a Jamaican team that is technically undecided. Why? The big hares have all submitted the proverbial sick leaves.


Both 2008 as well as in 2012 the anchor of Jamaica’s track team was facing similar hick ups weeks before the Olympics. The Big Man was so doubtful the Americans had already called the race. But this time, it’s not just the Big Man but also the Big Girls. Thompson and little Pocket Rocket have also sent in sick leaves. How can that be? 

Technically speaking Jamaica’s bus to Rio has 4 wheels but no engine. It’s caput and the organizers are now frantically sitting in ‘meetings’ trying to get the bus started. Months of work seemed to have gone down the tube. 

There is a proverbial saying that states “Man a plan , God a wipe out”. Looking at the past weekend it certainly seems so. But this is where Jamaica’s religious culture should surface and unless the organizers are not good and faithful church goers, their faith should buoy them to the fact that despite the hick ups, Jamaica will be fine.


Two times the Big Man has proven his doubters and haters wrong. Oh ye of little faith, like Doubting Thomas they face their Monday evening meeting with trepidation and panic. It’s not just Bolt they will say, it’s our girls as well. 

But my faith is strong with “DemGirls” as they too are grounded in their faith so Jamaica need not worry. Bolt, Fraser and Thompson are 3 soldiers walking in the battle ground of The Unseen Man. To question the path he wants them to take is questioning the so called religious fever of a country that only cries “Lord Help Me’ whenever they find it convenient to do so. 

After 4 days of track and field candy Jamaica cannot declare a final team for Rio2016. That is a big disappointment for the organizers. Some are already jumping ship declaring Bolt and now the ladies must quote “prove themselves to be fit” so that they can be considered for selection.  

Did someone just say “considered” ? Did someone just suggested that the possibility exist that Bolt, Thompson and Fraser will NOT be at Rio because they have to PROVE themselves fit? That sounds as ridiculous as Gatlin declaring the US will take 1,2 and 3 at the Rio100m. 

What has been proven this weekend is those so called experts and officials of track and field Jamaica have no faith in their team. It makes you wonder who do they stand up for, who do they go in the trenches with? It seems like it’s US and THEM, with US placing hurdles and negatives in the fast track of recovery for our 3 stars. 

Jamaica’s culture of NO is actively showing its ugly head. The word NO is popular in Jamaica and sadly the “Experts of Track” are the bearers of this nasty culture. Instead of Yes we will succeed and have the strongest team including all 3 stars it’s….No we cannot wait, No we have to throw them under the bus, No they have to prove themselves, No we have to submit to Olympic pressure, No why rely on them  3, No others will do just fine, No it’s not our fault !

Doubting Thomas , that’s what they all are. They are as bad for the sport as they are for the team. We will have the team dreams are made of and our boys and girls will produce and do well. The “experts” had better get use to that. 

Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts, I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people and my Team. 

(C) 2016 Kwesi