They came, they saw, and conquered. They performed victoriously, hugged competitors, shook hands, and prepared for more challenges. Despite apparent dominance, they remained respectful and conducted themselves as class citizens of the world Athletic community.
Such was the behavior of Usain St. Leo Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce between the years 2008 and 2017. 2008 through 2017 was a period in which the best athletes on the planet participated in three Olympics and three World Track and Field Championships. Shelly Ann and Usain performed at an extremely high level, displaying their talents and making their Island Nation proud. Now that the end has arrived for Shelly Ann, and is near for Usain, let us reflect and give thanks to God that we witnessed many wonderful Athletic performances by both persons.
Parting is such sweet sorrow but as fans of Usain and Shelly Ann, we should feel no sorrow as they leave the performing stage. Both gave us many thrills between 2008 and 2017. Let us all commemorate their incomparable achievement accordingly.
Usain Bolt made me a modern day Prophet. In 2006, I had a disagreement with a professional associate that almost turned into a major argument. This person and I disagreed about the potential, capabilities, and abilities of the Jamaican Track and Field athlete. I said that if the Jamaican Track and Field athletes obtained the resources available to those of other Nations they would be the fastest on the planet. By Resources, I meant modern Equipment and Nutrition. That comment was not well- received by the witnesses to that discussion.
Words cannot explain how I felt at the conclusion of the Olympics in 2008. Usain Bolt accomplishments in the last three Olympics are best summarized accordingly. In 2008, it was good morning. In 2012, it was good afternoon. In 2016, it was good night. I am certain that the individual with whom I had the disagreement witnessed the events and truth to my claim. To Usain Bolt I proudly say, thank you.
While the modernization of Jamaican Track and Field began with Donald Quarrie in the 1976 Olympics, Usain and Shelly Ann has taken that effort to another level.
Shelly Ann has given an excellent account of herself. Winning the 100M in successive Olympics – 2008 and 2012, is exceptional accomplishment. While I am certain that Usain three-peat will not happen again, it is doubtful or I have yet to see the female athlete who can match the accomplishment of Shelly Ann. However, there is a chance that Elaine Thompson could do just that. Therefore, it is probably best to say that in the Male arena repeat wins in successive Olympics will not reoccur but I can see it happening in Female competition. What if as a continuation of my proclamation about the Jamaican athlete in 2006, it is destined that a Female athlete will win the 100M and 200M in three successive Olympics. WOW! That would be something.
Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce provided inspiration to their teammates and Island Nation. Track and Field in Jamaica has attained new heights. The sport and its participants are well respected by the world. Phrases like, “the great sprinting nation”, and “sprint Capital of the world” is echoed around the Globe. Athletes from all parts of the Globe will descend on the Island Nation to train and prepare themselves to compete in the Olympics and World Championships. A prime example is Wade Van Niekerk. Wade went to Jamaica and added sprinting to his running. Has it paid off? Yes, it has, look at the 400M record of 43.03 for the proof. The Olympics 400M race is not a Dash anymore it is a Sprint. My prediction is that by 2020 Jamaican Athletes will be running sub 45.0 for the 400M event.
Usain and Shelly Ann provided inspiration to aspiring Track stars in Jamaica. Their mission should they choose to accept is Run at a high level. The 100M, 200M, 110M hurdles, 400M, 400M Hurdles, and 800M races are now sprints. Performances at the Olympics and World Championships in whichever event chosen by aspiring Track stars should mirror the accomplishments of Usain and Shelly Ann to continue the legacy. I am impressed with the wealth of Talent on the Female side of the Jamaican Track and Field Ledger. Perhaps, that will get the Male athletes to step up.
In 2020, there could be a drop in the level of individual performance on the Track but the Quartets Male and Female should remain strong. I expect to see the Men 4 x 400-relay team step up and give a better account. I am expecting improvement in the Field events such as Long Jump, Triple Jump (Hop, Skip, and Jump), Javelin, Discus, Shot Put, Hammer throw, and High Jump. New names will emerge and I am certain that recruited or not there will be individuals seeking to continue the legacy. Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce did their part. It is time for both to move forward and pursue other interests.
Farewell Shelly Ann. I wish you success in Family Life and Parenting. I wish you the same success in business as you enjoyed in Track and Field. I imagine you will be doing speaking engagements, and participating in promotional and Civic activities. I can see you as a future Prime Minister. Should you choose that path; Politicians should receive you with open arms. I believe that by the time your Political ideas come to the forefront, the current crop of Politicians will be ready to retire and as such, people will embrace your participation. You were a stellar ambassador and name recognition will be automatic. During your reign as a Super Star, you may not have received the ink or interviews you deserved but despite that, your popularity remained in tact. Thank you for all you did for the Sport. Track and Field fans wish you the best in your endeavors. God is watching you from a distance.
Farewell Usain but stay close to the Stadium. Be accessible to the teenagers particularly those of your former High School. There are many who are inspired to follow your example. They will need your attention, nurturing, and exhortation. At the very least, channel these youngsters Male and Female to Glen Mills. Volunteer some time to your former coach to assist in the development of future champions. That effort should be easier than adhering to a Training regiment.
My challenge to you in Retirement is to be a part of the discovery, nurturing, and development of at least three (3) consistent 400M sprinters. Lack of significant excellent representation in the 400M race is obvious. Excellent performance in the 400M event will require men who will consistently run between 43.01 and 44.5. It will require women who will consistently run between 48.0 and 49.4. This will be a serious challenge because the 400M is, as you will agree, the most exhausting of the sprints.
As an individual, you can be a voice nationally and internationally. Do not be afraid to be Capitalistic and be cautious with whom you do Business. Respect your inner circle. Trust but verify. Thank you for all you did for the Sport. Track and Field fans wish you the best in your endeavors. Thanks to you and Shelly, Track and field in Jamaica is coming in from the cold. God is watching you from a distance. Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.