The athletics results this last week in Beijing represent the summum of success for Jamaican runners, putting them in first place in the gold medal league table, equal with Russia and ahead of the US.
Bear in mind that Jamaica has a population of only 2.7 million.
The first gold medal went to Shelly-Ann Fraser in the women’s 100m. Amid the thousands of news stories trying to come up with something original to say, AFP interviewed Shelly-Ann’s mother.
Shelly-Ann Fraser can thank her mother’s uneasy relationship with the Jamaican police for helping her become an Olympic Games sprint champion.
Maxine Fraser, who brought up her daughter in one of the Caribbean’s meanest ghettos, believes her quickfire genes have been passed on to the 21-year-old who led a Jamaican cleansweep in the 100m final in Beijing on Sunday.
Maxine has had to live on her wits all of her life and working as a street vendor she regularly has to put in a blinding turn of pace if police are chasing her for illegal trading.
“This is to show that something good can come out of the ghetto. Ghetto can’t hold you back as long as you have ambition,” said Maxine after watching her daughter take gold.
The reference to running from the police reminded me of a post I wrote back in March 2006. I’ll give you advance warning: turn your speakers low before you watch the movie.
“[27 March 2006] The source of the sprinters’ success then is that Jamaicans know from a young age and from much experience that at the sound of gunshot …”
Some commentators wonder whether Jamaican runners are not getting a little extra kick from illegal doping …
However, locals have scoffed at suggestions that drugs may be the reason for the country’s recent success.
In fact, many argue that the heavy consumption of yam, banana and breadfruit have helped power the sprinters.
Nyam yam, myam-myam!