Friday, August 15, 2008

The Caribbean Display in Beijing

Since the big news of the moment is the 2008 Olympics in Beijing let’s look at the excitement the Caribbean contingent will be creating. Expectations are high that some of the best displays in the track and field events will be given by athletes hailing from the Caribbean.

Two of the world’s fastest men hail from the tiny island of Jamaica. The race between Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt (Jamaica’s super-two) and Tyson Gay of the USA will be one of,if not the most exciting display of stamina and speed in Beijing. Punters internationally are betting heavily on the placement of the top three 100 meter runners. The three men have some really impressive times. The current record holder is Bolt with a time of 9.72, while former world record holder, Powell has a time of 9.74 and world champion Gay has 9.77.

Doping and the Olympics

Due to doping concerns, many of the top athletes are feeling the needle – literally. One of Jamaica’s leading newspapers, The Daily Gleaner, reported in its Wednesday, August 13 edition that the Jamaican team has been tested numerous times since arriving in Beijing. Powell has been quoted as saying, “They have tested me four times and took a lot of blood. I’m saying they are taking too much blood….” Powell was concerned that the excessive blood testing may leave him too weak to perform well when the big day arrives.

Let the Games Begin

As can be expected, the top three men aced their heats on the 14th, and now the world waits for the big showdown on the 15th. Other Caribbean men expected to put on a good show are veteran Kim Collins from St. Kitts, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Darrel Brown, Richard Thompson & Marc Burns. Other Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Guyana (yes, also counted as part of the region), Antigua, Bahamas and Barbados all have athletes taking part in the games.

Barbadian swimmer, Bradley Ally wrote his name in the history books at the 2008 Olympics. Ally is now the first Caribbean swimmer to advance in the 200 meter individual medley.

Another track and field event that is highly anticipated and where the Caribbean is expected to do well is the men’s 4x100 Meter relay. Here both Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago are expected to land in any of the top three spots.

The women are not to be overlooked. Champion sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown from Jamaica is expected to deliver a medal for her country. Other members of the Jamaican contingent expected to win medals include Sherone Simpson, Aileen Bailey, and Shelley-Ann Fraser. Knowing the competitive spirit of the Jamaican athletes, any other member of the female team can surprise with a medal-winning run.

Tiny Antigua’s five athletes at the games are no dark horses either. Sprinter, Sonia Williams is good and could do well for her country and the region as is James Grayman, a high-jumper.

I’m sure that Caribbean nationals all over the globe had goose bumps as the athletes from the various islands paraded on opening day.

The complete list of Caribbean islands represented in Beijing is:

Antigua & Barbuda
British Virgin islands
Cayman islands
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Lucia
Trinidad & Tobago

- Jessica McCurdy Crooks

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