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Athletics in Jamaica really started after the second world war, and boy, it has come a far way!
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Jamaica now gains top rankings in athletics consistently, especially when measured per capita.
In relation to some events (eg.100 and 400m) and individual rankings, Jamaica also leads the pack!
Our own Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell for example, are ranked as the best in the world. So what is the secret behind our performances? - there are many theories and speculations.
Some say we are just a blessed country, and that is the only reason; others claim it has to be our food, still others theorize that it is just the infrastructure, while others hold firm that it is our sporting culture and competitive Jamaican spirit.
What do I say? All of them!.
However, I would point out quickly to you that in terms of infrastructure, we really have nothing compared to many of the other countries that we compete with. It is perhaps the share joy and love of the sport that allows us to reap what we have, from the little that we have.
The seed is sown in the culture, we all love athletics - we love to run! That spirit is evident from even pre-school fundays, where even the little babies run races!
The major high schools have commendable programs as well that prepares the youth- that is where the 'magic' starts. This training culminates in the Boy's and Girl's Champs (championships) at our national stadium every year.
There is no bigger event in Jamaica than champs is going on! The local high schools compete fervently with each other for the title. Kingston College, Holmwood Technical High, Vere Technical, St. Jago, Calabar and Manchester High, are some of the schools that have taken the titles in the last decade.
My own high school, Mannings' High - although has not yet won the title, has done commendable in the girls version and has seen some great national representatives, including Alison Beckford.
This yearly competition provides the ground work for the 'super' athletes we produce at the national and international stage.
Of course, I need not mention that Jamaica dominates the Caribbean championships every year!
Herb McKenley, Merlene Ottey, Donald Quarrie, and Arthur Wint are among some of the famous older names in Jamaica's athletics. But nowadays, you will hear of Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell, James Beckford, Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt, for example, are some of the dominant names in their disciplines - anywhere in the world.
My dream is for athletics in Jamaica to now move to the other level where our young stars does not have to migrate for better opportunities. The MVP track club is leading the effort in this regard.
The JAAA provides insightful information on the sport here. Take a look when you get a chance.
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