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Foster’s Fairplay is still basking in the afterglow of the XV IAAF Beijing World Championships. Starting with the new paradigm that branded the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaica’s lovers of sports were spellbound by the superlative performances in five world-standard showcases of track and field up to and including the Moscow World Championships two years ago.
At every call, the supporters swelled to proportions that were once again to lose valuable sleep, and possibly jobs, as the viewing vigil at times meant early to mid-morning shifts.
Many of the thrilling moments of the second stint in the Chinese city were predictable – the Usain Bolt recurring phenomenon; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s now-cemented upper hand on the world’s best female sprinters; and Elaine Thompson’s emergence, with thoughts of a ‘three the tough way’ clash in Rio – and brought added moisture to the palate.
What did not appear in the crystal ball was what coach Lennox Graham would pull from his magician’s bag in Danielle Williams.
Having warmed to all those thrills, now safely tucked away, the cooling-down opportunity was to be embraced just to reflect. As mentioned last week, putting the 2016 Olympics in proper perspective and willing our amazing athletes to greater effort and glory would be the sole focus. Perish that thought at the womb stage! Here comes a mass exodus from the two top clubs whose athletes had sweetened the pot a mere few weeks ago in Beijing.
News coming from the MVP camp is scanty, and not unsurprisingly, non-committal. All that was revealed equalled “I’ll tell you at month end – October”.
Over at Racers, sources, who asked to remain anonymous, say that the problem is efforts to upgrade their female portfolio were falling short. The all-encompassing picture first is that national champion and World Champs 400m fourth-place finisher Christine Day and Beijing 100m finalist Natasha Morrison, both with gold medals in the mile and sprint relays, respectively, have headed out the MVP exit door.
Of lesser quality and impact, back-to-back 200m silver medallist at the World Juniors (2002/2004) Anneisha McLaughlin, later Whilby, has also waved her hand in retreat from her MVP teammates.
Almost simultaneously coming to this columnist, Beijing 2008 Olympics joint 100m silver medallist Kerron Stewart has also packed her bags and said goodbye to Racers. Accompanying her on the move were the too-long-promising duo of sprinter Schillonie Calvert and 400m hurdler Ristananna Tracey. The grapevine, and understandably so, reveals that the club’s bosses were spared the trauma of letters of dismissal – their threatening reaction to below-par performances.
There is no difficulty in saying to the Dr Glen Mills-conditioned trio “that is the end of that” and “wish you well elsewhere”.
Stewart, it must be concluded, has had her time, her most productive days seemingly behind her, although thoughts of that pair of silver medals, being at the time transformed to gold, must be a bothersome factor.
Calvert, despite global sprint relay gold medals in 2013 (Moscow, WC) and 2015 (Nassau, World Relays Championships), has not realised early promise shown at the individual level. And Tracey, who it is claimed has taken on major distractions, qualifies for what the horsemen call “in and out running”. They seem all to have been in the Racers departure lounge.
The University of Technology-based athletes, if they considered their less than impressive high school past, should have been happy, even under the coaching whip of an uncompromising, no-nonsense Stephen Francis.
Day’s WC personal best of 50.14 and Morrison’s similarly described 10.96 in her semi-final show remarkable improvement from the ranks of ‘Miss Nobodys’. Whispers are that their enthusiasm and willingness to compete in Beijing took a nosedive when they resumed the circuit several thousand dollars richer. Given safe landing and embraces in another camp, they could soar to even greater heights.
Foster’s Fairplay is reluctant to take an unnecessary swipe at athletes who brought satisfaction from Beijing. However, the label attendant to the charge of post-World Champ attitude suggests ingratitude for the goodwill extended to escort them there. Be careful now! This exit has revealed a few things previously kept ‘beneath the sheets’. So the heat can ‘tun up’ anytime.