Jamaicans bolt to Olympics for gold & glory

Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller waves as she arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
AP Photo/Sang Tan
AP Photo/Sang Tan

Jamaicans led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller joined delegations representing athletes from 205 countries across the world to attend opening ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad in London, England.

The leader – who is also minister of sports – made the four-day visit to the international, sports mecca where thousands of athletes from around the globe will compete in 36 sports until Aug. 12.

Although her visit ends one week before Usain Bolt races to face challenge for Olympic gold and dominance in track and field, the prime minister said she had confidence in team Jamaica and urged nationals to cheer on all the athletes who represent the island.

“Once again, all roads lead to London and I am expecting the Jamaican team to perform to the best of its ability and it is only fitting that we give them all the necessary support during the Games,” Simpson Miller said.

Jamaicans hold high hopes for a repeat sweep in both the men’s and women’s races they compete – akin to their victory in 2008 at the Beijing, China Olympics – shutting out any aspirations for competition to medal gold, silver or bronze.

While all athletes aspire to Olympic glory, Jamaicans are forcefully going for the gold that also celebrates their golden anniversary of independence.

The prime minister said there was much significance in the Games in this 50th year of Jamaica’s Independence and 64 years after Olympians Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint and others “blazed a trail of glory at our first participation in the Olympics in London in 1948.”

Prior to the opening ceremonies on Friday, she participated in a welcome flag-raising ceremony at the Olympic Village and met with the Jamaican athletes.

Meanwhile, Jamaican nationals who reside outside of England are flocking to the city to support their “Golden Boy” and fellow athletes as they compete on the international athletic stage.

‘Cool Running’ again for Jamaicans at Olympics

Aside from track and field, Jamaican athletes are contenders in a number of events that may be regarded as out of their realm. Determined to improve on their ability and perhaps qualify to compete against the best of the best, an equestrian, swimmer and Tae-Kwan-Do champion are representing the Caribbean island at the London Olympics.

Unlike, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada where Team Jamaica’s bob sled entry was regarded as a novelty and dubbed in news reports for their “Cool Runnings,” the summer games promise record-breaking opportunities and spotlight for more than a few individuals representing the nation.

With more than a few hurdlers, sprint, relay and long distance runners basking in the spotlight Team Jamaica comprise 100 metres swimmer Alia Atkinson, discus throwers Travis Smikle, Allison Randall and Jason Morgan; long jumper, Damar Forbes; shot putter Dorian Scott; Tae-kwan-do competitor Kenneth Edwards; triple jumpers Trecia Smith and Kimberly Williams; equestrian Samantha Albert; Korene Hinds, steeple chase; decathlon runner, Maurice Smith; and others to carry the black, green and gold banner.

And while lightning Bolt will likely strike again, the four-time, Olympic gold medal winner who carried the flag during the opening ceremony might be joined in the winner’s circle after performances by Yohan “The Beast” Blake, Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Veronica Campbell Brown, Sherone Simpson, Sherica Williams, Nickiesha Wilson and Melanie Walker. Since arriving at their training camp at the University of Birmingham, media and fans have been camping out to get a glimpse of the 54-member JA team.

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Jamaica’s Ottey At 52 Will Not Be Going For Gold

Call her “queen of the track” or the “Bronze Queen” Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey could certainly be presented frequent flyer miles for her enduring and relentless pursuit to winning a gold medal at the Olympics.

Although she has amassed a record nine Olympic medals, Ottey has never taken home the gold.

That number represents the most won by any athlete.

She is the oldest Olympic athletics competitor and outshines any other Olympian as owner of the most medals.

She also holds a record 14 world championship medals, three of them gold.

Ottey now runs for Slovenia where she has been living since 1998. She hoped to secure a place on the team to compete in her eighth Olympiad but late this week was scrubbed from making the 4x100m relay team. She ran a season’s best 100m time of 11.82 seconds last weekend which is outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 11.38 seconds.

Four years ago, she lost out by a hair when she failed to qualify for the Beijing, China Olympics by just 0.028 seconds.

Her appearance in the Slovenian relay team at the 2010 European championships in Barcelona, at the age of 50, made her the oldest athlete to appear in the competition’s history.

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