Jahknow, mi couldn’t blog during di Olympics. Di at’lete dem just had me in such a uproar whe mi couldna constentrate.
Had to channel my Jamaican friends there just now. 🙂 It is all done and dusted and it was truly the best Olympics ever for me as a Caribbean person. I don’t know if any other Olympics could possibly compare for sheer joy, sheer amazing feats, the spirit of Caribbean unity and sharing each other’s joy that enveloped the region. It was so absolutely wonderful to see our athletes truly shining the way we always knew they could when the drug-taking regimes got cleaned out of the sport. Not calling any names *coff* but they could only manage a few bronzes … and some of those after they protest Caribbean athletes. Badmind and grudgeful, mi seh… only bronze fi dem! Dem haffi chat to wi back cos wi deh a finish line aready!
Anyhow, there were so many islandistas and islandistos to be proud of at this Olympics. The Caribbean just BOSS UP the sprints – 6 out of 8 in the men’s 100 metre finals and 4 out of 8 in the women’s! Ye, it was like that.
But there were two islandistas who stood out the most for me – golden girls Shelly-Ann Fraser, the 100m champion and Veronica Campbell-Brown, the two-time 200m champ.
They are a study in contrasts. Veronica Campbell-Brown was certainly the reigning and undisputed queen of Jamaican sprinting. Though she is only 26, this is her third Olympics and she has medalled each time. VCB does not play when it comes to the big time. She is quiet, dignified and almost stoic in her demeanour. I have so much admiration for this woman. Particularly when Asafa was flattering to deceive over the last few years with records here and there but never the ‘big ones, Ronnie Campbell always came through in the big moments. She is well on her way to becoming JA’s most decorated sprinter at the Olympics and eventually surpassing the icon of every female Jamaican sprinter, the temperamental diva Merlene Ottey. Ronnie is rock solid and so I was never bothered by all the chatter from the American commentators about what and what Alyson Felix would do. I knew that Ms. Campbell-Brown would come through. I had no doubt.
Shelly-Ann Fraser is a completely different character. Where VCB is the queen and a known quantity, she could now be seen as the princess. Certainly when she clocked 10.85 to edge out Campbell at the Jamaican trials, people were dubious. Kerron Stewart they had heard of, Sherone Simpson for sure but many thought that VCB should have been given a 100m spot – Fraser was the obvious choice to be left out with her lack of racing pedigree compared to the three older sprinters.
But Shelly-Ann proved her worth and in her very first Olympics, captured the heart of the world, not just with her speed (10.78!) but her sweet and bubbly nature, that trademark always-gleaming broad smile covered in braces and her witty claims that it was the yam, dumpling and ‘reggae power’ that pushed Jamaican athletes to such heights at this Olympics. She is truly just adorable and cute as a button.
Her background is an inspiration – coming from one of the most crime-ridden, poverty-stricken ghettos in Kingston, the infamous Waterhouse, she defied the odds (and long they are in JA) to attend one of the island’s most prestigious schools, Wolmer’s Girls and then on to the University of Technology. She has now risen to the top. Yet the home she will return to is a one room shack in Waterhouse, a poignant reminder that she has only just arrived and of how incredible her story is.