We are immune to criticism
We know not grudge
We face the challenge
And harness the power of love
Now I see you want us to be like the rug
That way we can be saturated with all the mud
Dem a Wonder, Sizzla
It was as if Shango self had taken over and won that race, strutting and proud and invincible and every leg length to the finish line was crossing seas and continents to raise a whole nation from its knees.
It was fluke enough the first time he did it. Shocking the American into third place. And Richard Thompson making a good show of taking second. But when lightning struck twice they had to take notice.
And the yardies I suspect, are saying that Trinidad will always be second to Jamaica. In races and music and most definitely in the sheer arrogance and conviction that they are the fastest and the best looking. For one moment we can put aside our small island paranoias and give Jamaica a moment of unmitigated basking in the fullness of their victory.
And everybody is making jokes about yam power and cassava as a Performance Enhancing Drug.
Meanwhile my bredrin Peter Dean in Kingston, says he expects first. But in the anguish of victory and the frustration of another city strangling under the weight of hundreds of young potential Usains and Asafas, he posts pictures of the conditions the track team train under.
There is a grassy track and an overgrown sand pit. There are cracked mirrors in the gym and the equipment that looks like it couldn’t give you anything but tetanus.
It also begs the question what goes on in the mind of an Olympiad? What energy do they channel, what gods do they call on? What terror of failure stalks them even as they convince themselves that they are good enough to be the fastest in the whole wide world. When Usain Bolt presses his fingers into that Bird Nest track what connects him to all he has learned, all his training?
I haven’t an athletic bone in my whole body but watching the games, watching the eyes of those runners and swimmers and gymnasts, there is something in them that looks like possession.
What they have in their eyes is something that transcends the colours of your flag and the slickness of your uniform.
We’re all so proud of them. Well most of us. We all want to claim their victory as our own. We want to celebrate their triumphs with the same level of emotion as some of us want to get rid of similar youths that could win the Robbing and Killing Olympics.
And even as we were claiming Usain as our own, and making noises about Caribbean runners, radio announcers were raving about political unions.
Raving about Trinidad having to carry the rest of the region, because we so rich and everybody else so poor.
Raving about fixing us first before we go tend to anyone else’s problems. And I have to wonder when oh when will we get it?
There was a time way back in the day, when the Olympic Games was just a chance for a bunch of sweaty naked Greek aristocrats to demonstrate how manly they were.
It’s come a long way from that. But I wonder if we have. Our politicians can’t seem to figure out how to get beyond being a sweaty bunch of men (thank Jah for those suits though, the idea of any of those dudes naked makes me want to hurl), fighting for first place.
The pictures of the Jamaican track teams facilities haunt me.
But what they prove, perhaps is that all the high tech this, that and the other can’t take the place of the sheer power of the human spirit.
Or it could also suggest that maybe instead of building smelters we should be focused on building human potential. Not because everyone is cut out to be an Olympiad, but because everyone has a right to have their potential explored, harnessed, pushed in the right direction.
There was a time when the idea of regional unity was for us to take bauxite from Jamaica and natural gas from Trinidad and make our own alumina. Why can’t we apply that same philosophy to taking Jamaica’s sheer determination and marrying it with Trinidad’s open-ness to create not just world class athletes, but world class businesses, world class citizens.
You have to wonder if we have what it takes to produce a Usain Bolt and a Richard Thompson, how come so many of our people are being left behind in the dust?