Home African Caribbean Show More Love And Respect For all Athletes.

Show More Love And Respect For all Athletes.

by Tony Kelly
1 comment

With the recent completion of the 19th World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary and being both a former middle-distance and cross-country runner at secondary and tertiary level in Jamaica I am choosing to devote this article to that sporting event.

Jamaica finished fourth on the medal table with 3 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze behind the USA who were in first place and that is truly a fantastic result for a nation of approximately 3 million people. The well-known saying ‘Wi likkle but wi Tallawah’ is definitely apt. Some of the medal colours  ‘mined’ by the Jamaican team were  unexpected whilst others were deprived of theirs due to injuries or mishaps on the track so the overall tally could have been much higher. The athletes did themselves proud as indeed was the case for those of us watching on our television screens at home whether in Jamaica or in the wider diaspora community.   ‘Mi glad bag buss’ at their remarkable and outstanding performances as they competed on the world stage with aplomb and passion and gave of their best.

However, the negative, impolite and personal attacks which amount to vitriolic abuse from some armchair critics on various social media websites who claim to be die-hard track and field supporters are serious cause for concern. There is nothing wrong with some banter and light-hearted humour but we all need to remember is although there will be rivalry in what is after all a sporting competition, it is certainly not a matter of life and death. Some bloggers, commentators and social media posters take it way too seriously and could really benefit from the sportsmanlike behaviour of the athletes from competing countries who display levels of empathy, commiserations and congratulations to their fellow competitors after they have finished their event. The sensationalized headlines and inevitable click bait of some of these social media posts are such that I often ignore them as they are attention seeking and full of hate.

There were many predictions being made by these so-called track experts for the last few months that I stopped reading them as one cannot compare one-off races with the rounds of heats, semi-finals and finals of a major championship. Added to that was the fact that Noah Lyles the American sprinter openly stated that he was going to win both sprint titles and break Usain Bolt’s world records at these championships. He is an excellent runner and won the sprint double plus the 4×100 metres relay. However as far as I can recall Jamaica’s world record holder of both the 100 and 200 metres Usain Bolt never publicly predicted that he was going to do that during his athletics career. Let us also remember that Jamaica holds the world record for the 4×100 metres relay.  That is why one should just make one’s feet do the talking and keep the mouth shut. A clear case of modesty/humility versus arrogance/cocky.

It was rather disrespectful and disconcerting for people to use their devices whether it be iPad, computer or mobile phone to criticize athletes who did not finish in the top three of their chosen event or in some cases were not in the podium position that they wanted them to be. The constant nitpicking and finding fault of athletes’ performances is so unnecessary and uncalled for when they are fighting blood, sweat and tears in temperatures which are not only scorching but humid.  The climate in Jamaica is hot but certainly there is not a humidity factor ‘back a yard’ which can sap one’s energy. BBC TV commentators regularly reported that each day of the championship the humidity factor was more severe than the previous one.  I have to single out in particular some of the Americans and the Jamaicans in that regard as it is often not lighthearted banter but downright abusive and disrespectful and needs to stop!! There is no harm in supporting one’s favoured athletes or country, but one should not be unkind to the others as they are human beings with feelings/emotions and we as spectators, simply put, do not know them!!

As a stickler for wanting us all to do more fast-paced walking to burn up the calories and control  type 2 diabetes or reduce the risk of developing it, hence more movement, it seems rather ironic that I cannot stand the walking races in the  track and field competition. I never watch them although there are people who will beg to differ. For me it is like watching paint dry or grass grow!! Interestingly Spain won four gold medals at these championships all from walking races and that puts them in third place overall on the medal table which seems rather strange on two counts. Firstly, on one’s ability to walk fast and secondly their four gold and one other medal thus a total of five, places that country higher than Jamaica with 3 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze. Apparently, it is the number of gold medals that determines the medal table position!!

The athletes will eventually wind down their season with a few   more Diamond League meetings in Europe before taking a well-deserved break. They will then start preparing for the 26th July to 11th August, Paris 2024 summer Olympics where the track and field programme will as usual be the highlight of that sporting extravaganza. There are many other sports fans/spectators and internet users waiting for that to happen next year and one can only hope that the naysayers and haters  will  act in a responsible and civil manner  with respect and decorum as that is the right thing to do.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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1 comment

Jennifer Proudlove-Jarman August 28, 2023 - 12:14 pm

Well said…


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