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DateLine Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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The Jamaican athletes were marvels

The Jamaican athletes led by that speed marvel Usain Bolt have burnt the athletic track at the Bird's Nest at the Beijing Olympics 2008. Not only have these wonderful athletes burnt the track, they have also re-written the record books. For the Jamicans one of the several countries in the Caribbean, these achievements are things that will be writ in letters of gold and one's that they will remember for ever.

In the previous Olympics, track records were the exclusive preserve of the Americans. But this time round the Americans have been made to look ordinary with the Jamaican runners running away with most of the track events and in the process setting up world records that will not easily be broken. Like our man in the scene in Beijing Dinesh Weerawansa very rightly described - the Jamaicans have bombed the American athletic base. A better description would be hard to coin.

It is said that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. But Usain Bolt who is tagged 'Lightnig Bolt', rubbished that belief by striking twice in the same place - the track at the Bird's Nest in Beijing.

First Bolt left the rest of the runners standing when he scorched to victory in the 100 and 200 metres, then not satisfied with that he led the Jamaican 4 x 100 relay team to victory and another world record.

The other members of relay team were Asafa Powell, Nick Carter and Michael Frater. Like Bolt's 100 and 200 meters triumphs, this stunner by the relay team was incredible and something to savour.

Bolt has been accused of being arrogant after his victories. But a little bit of arrogance must be allowed him, because his arrogance did not stem from pride, but it came by him not being able to control his emotions. Then the girls who joined the Jamaican gold winning party were Veronica Campbell Brown in the 4 x 100 relay, Melanie Walker 400 metre hurdles and Shelly-Ann Fraser in the women's 100 metres.

The Caribbean, especially Jamaica would have gone wild and would have celebrated for who knows how long. They deserve to celebrate because what has happened in Beijing has never happened before in the history of track and field in the Caribbean. The Jamaican athletes attribute their success to the eating of lots of yams, greens, fresh air and chicken nuggets. These foods have given them the strength, stamina and the energy to explode into world record breaking athletes. Sprint running is our heart and soul says Herb Elloit the Jamaican teams chief doctor. Olivia Grange the Jamaican Minister has told Xinhua the Chinese news agency that they eat healthy and good food, lots of yams, lots of greens, lots of fishes, good Jamaican food and clean fresh air.

To know what led to the Jamaican success in Beijing I would recommend my readers to read the article headlined - Lots of yams, greens, fresh air and nuggets - appearing on page 25 in the Saturday 'Daily News', from the Xinhua News Agency. During my two tours to the Caribbean with the Sri Lankan cricketers I have experienced a little bit of their style of celebration. My friends in the Caribbean Sarath de Silva, Janaka Adhikari, Raja Pathirane, Suresh and Deepthi Abraham took me to these celebrations which the Caribbean people call 'lime'. Their drinking parties are called 'lime' and once they begin, it is one long session right through the weekend.

The Caribbean people are very hospitable and fun loving and they will go out of the way to make a visitor feel at home. Calypso is their main item on their music menu with Bob Marley's reggae and Soco music not being far behind. Our congratulations to the athletes who put the Caribbean island into the record books and may they continue to dominate future athletics so that they would be an example to the others to follow and if possible equal and emulate.

China the hosts of the Olympic Games have also pushed aside the Americans in the medal table and they richly deserve this. The Chinese athletes too are very persevering and deserve their reward.

Even Great Britain have made their presence felt which is a good thing for the sport.

Susanthika at track's end

For Sri Lanka's track queen Susanthika Jayasinghe the Beijing Olympics signals the end of the athletic track for her.

It is said and accepted that all good things must come to an end. And this saying rings true for Jayasinghe. While her track career lasted, it was a wonderful run and she carried all before her and did herself and the country proud, performing the impossible and the unbelievable.

At the age of 32 she did marvellous runs in the two heats of the women's 200 metres to enter the semi-finals. To enter the first of the semis was indeed creditable and that she could not last the pace, was just one of those things and there was no way that she could have disproved nature.

After Duncan White who won a silver medal at the London Games in 1948, Jayasinghe did a miraculous run to win a bronze medal at the Sydney Games. She also has a medal in the World Athletic Championships.

Facing the starter in the first semi-final of the women's 200 metres, the village lass looked very confident, not showing any jitters. But once the race got under way it was obvious that the sprint queen had exhausted her best and that she was just making up the numbers. The mind was willing but the body was refusing to respond. That's nature and Jayasinghe can take heart from the fact that while it lasted, she made every Sri Lankan where ever they may be proud to be Sri Lankans.

She has promised not to quit. But it is the end of her making her presence felt in the big league. The authorities must not let her go into the limbo of the forgotten. But do things for her so that she will always be remembered. Her career was not a bed of roses. Events took place that could have prematurely ended her career. But she rode all that to be what she is. We say well done and thank you for the track music.

No team spirit

Like in life for any team to succeed there has to be team spirit and team work. If they lack this, then it need not be predicted that doom will be the end matter. The Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket seems to lacking in these vital ingredients. Sad when one thinks that they have some of the best men appointed to run the game. Firstly it was the unjust sacking of Samantha Algama, the media manager who upto that time had done a job pleasing to all media people. Then the secretary K. Mathivanan, who was the live wire and who was always available to answer and clarify questions was asked to keep mum.

Then Sidath 'lord' Wettimuny was taken to task in a TV programme. A cricket tour of England was confirmed without consulting the men who matter - the cricketers. Now comes an insurance deal that has turned sour with the Minister of Sport stepping in to nullify it.

Then the dancing Russian ladies who were eye catching in their acts, were bowled out. Playing in two devout buddhist centres should have made the Interim Committee understand that it had no place. The Rangiri Dambulla Stadium and the former Khettarama Stadium, now the R. Premadasa Stadium, are two temples areas sacred to all buddhists.

So it would do the authorities good if they launch a probe has to who or how the Russian ladies were allowed to do their jig and bring dishonour to the buddhists and their culture.

The sooner there is an elected body, the better it will be for the administration, the game and the cricketers.


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