The marathon runners were on their way in brilliant sunshine through the streets of London, all lined on both sides with flags waving lustily as they fought their way towards yet another goal in their country’s history. It mattered not which competitor came along, the cheering by the fans was designed to appreciate the effort of everyone whose strides were made with maximum energy and commitment, aiming at the big prize for the winners. The night before this sunny Sunday morning saw the Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt bring 80,000 people to their feet to applaud what may have been the confirmation of the best ever athlete of all times. Not the stalwarts like Michael Johnson, Daley Thompson, Carl Lewis and the sub four minute miler Lord Sebastien Coe who were present, dared to disagree. Surely the joy of seeing the first woman boxer winning a gold medal in the Olympic games being a member of the Great Britain team. Nicola Adams may have won two battles in one on that occasion. Firstly, she was able to rid the myth that boxing is not only a joy for men, and secondly, the excitement which she brought to the fans, could only have been equalled by the quality of her performance.
Stephen Kripotich of Uganda produced a magnificent run in the broiling sun to bring the gold medal in the grueling marathon event to his country, causing his two Kenyan neighbours to settle for the silver and bronze respectively. For the people of T&T, Saturday night provided a rude awakening to the sporting fraternity and the estimated millions who were glued to their televisions sets. A gutsy relay run to the bronze medal podium was not half as pleasantly shocking as the 84-metre plus throw of the javelin by a 19-year-old Keshorn Walcott from the little village called Toco, which earned him this country’s second gold medal in Olympic history. Suddenly, the red, white and black meant much more to the people of Great Britain who were able to recognise the shouts and chants of a nation that is very familiar with mastering the art of saluting the success of any countryman with extraordinary talent, the likes of Hasely Crawford, Brian Lara, David Michael Rudder, Lord Kitchener, the Mighty Stalin and Slinger Francisco, to name a few. To my own mind, a star was born when few expected it, and now we must show our appreciation for his superb step to reach the top of the world in his field. I had the honour of just sharing a few words with the young man, who seemed shy, but extremely pleasant and humbly admitted to have been only four years into the sport.
His preference was actually cricket where he wanted to be a fast bowler, and may well have been, had he decided to go in that direction. Victories in the Carifta, and the world junior championships may have deepened his eagerness to become better, but few expected that the next step would be so large. Today, sport has again changed the life of another young man, a fishing village, well recognised for Kitchener’s “Toco Band”, Mervyn Dillon’s fast bowling feats and maybe one or two others whom I do not recall. Visitors to our country will be curious to know where is the birthplace of Keshorn Walcott, the gold medallist. His popularity will beg the question of what else can this village produce. And as the Sunday marathon reached an end, the Olympic committee of great Britain came up with one of the most colourful spectacles which I have had the privilege to witness. London was alight with the sound of music and a kaleidoscope of colour which was reminiscent of choreography normally associated with people like Peter Minshall and Brian MacFarlane’s theatrical presentations.
So the doors of London are closed. It has served its purpose and will pass the baton to Brazil for their 2016 task of equaling or bettering the organisation of what many consider to be the best exponent of competence in an atmosphere which was more than conducive to the world’s best athletes. The task for T&T must be approached with a greater level of professionalism, not only from the athletes, but the administrators as well. Moving forward progressively will be proof that lessons have been learnt by all. Welcome home our athletes and show them that you cared all along and through every event. It is the least that we can all do as a form of appreciation.