Running Talent In Jamaica: Jr. Champs to Sr.Champs
My attached blog was written in 2008, after I attended the great track event Champs. Getting tickets for Champs 2009 was near impossible this year for many, mainly because of the success of all the star athletes last year at the Olympics.
The demand for tickets was enormous and the scalpers were also out. Tickets which sold for $1500.00 JA about $20.00 US currently, were being doubled by the scalpers. So many people decided to simply watch the event on television which was clearly not the same experience .
Anyhow, I saw this link posted about how the British press reported in about Champs and wanted to share. Anybody arriving to Jamaica should be aware of how important track and field is to this beautiful island of Jamaica.
For as long as I can remember I was always aware that Jamaican athletes, generally do exceptionally well at the Olympic track and field events.
What I did not know, is that the entire country views running and runners very seriously, and all this intensity begins from a very young age. I remember watching the Olympic track meets on television several years ago with my husband, who at that time was my Jamaican boyfriend. He was jumping up and down on the furniture screaming at the top of his lungs ” go my yute, go my yute, run for Jamaica, run!”
I looked at him like he was crazy and asked “can you quit making all that noise, as they cannot hear you and somebody may even telephone the police.” Now this was in the United States, where if neighbors perceive that too much noise is being made, and it is not Super Bowl night, 911 can be quietly dialed.
Anyhow, I then learned lessons about us Trinis/Trinidadians never really sending many athletes to the Olympic games, where the Jamaicans came out and blazed trails. I knew not to argue after all he had a point and since we were in the early dating phase why rock the boat over some runners my female mind told me. Plus it was his turn to cook Jamaican food that night.
I also learned that Champs was an event where the majority of raw talent was shaped and molded. Hmmm.
School Champs I would learn after moving to Jamaica, is where raw talent is showcased and groomed for bigger, better and larger events such as the world Olympics. School Champs is difficult to describe, but it is where all the high schools with the best athletes, come together to compete once a year.
The support, comradeship and energy is equivalent to college level sports in the US is my only comparison. As many of the schools have been around for a hundred, or more years. So you have grandfathers, uncles, cousins grandmothers and aunts, coming out in full support wearing the school colors and waving flags for the two or three days event. The atmosphere was that of a loving fashion show of cheerleaders in the stands, as the school colors and supporters creative energies came alive.
I was amazed at my first Champs, as I had never seen such large, supportive, energetic crowds for a high school track meet. Many Jamaicans even fly home to Jamaica for the weekend to support their teams. Even my husband pulled out his school colors as he dressed that morning, wearing his hat in support of his alma mater, a school called Wolmers Boys that he attend between ages eleven to seventeen. I felt badly for him, as his boys were not doing as well, as the two dominating schools that day.
Kingston College or KC, the school with purple and white colors dominated the track and bleachers as they stomped and sang songs to support the excellent very talented runners. Calabar High, the boys in green did there best, and came second in the male school division. Several girl schools were also present, with a schools such as Holmwood Technical and Vere Technical winning everything. I was left speechless.
I left my first Champs with a better understanding of Jamaica’s raw talent, as I watched the coaches walking back and forth like nervous expecting parents.The foreign recruiters could be seen, with caps on to shield the sun, hands taking notes as well as camera men trying to capture it all. Many of these kids go on to get recruited by Canadian or U.S. Universities, and eventually make it to Olympic games and represent Jamaica.
Jamaicans love winners and they back all individuals who make it out to represent the country on the global scene very seriously. The Jamaican phrase ” we likkle but we tallawall “comes to mind, as the phrase basically means that they are a little country but big in achievements.
This weekend the Senior National Championship will be held, and the hype as been intense. Many of the winners will all get plane tickets to Beijing China to represent Jamaica, with the big names as Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Sherrone Simpson and Veronica Campbell, who will all be competing to bring home gold medals in August 2008.
Overall, this athletic experience is good for all expats to attend, and each year I try to invite as many of my expat pals as possible. Many walk away in amazement and good feelings.