Honoring Our Olympians

I continue to read, with excitement, the outpouring of accolades, and the national pride that is being experienced as a result of the stellar performance of the Jamaica contingent to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With the unprecedented number of medals won, and the records set.

I clearly understand the clamor for recognizing our athletes and for naming everything, already named or not yet named, in their honor. We cannot overlook the fact that Usain Bolt electrified the Olympics, the world, and Jamaica. We love him for this. When, however, we begin to name streets, stadia, tracks, and other landmarks and monuments after well deserving citizens of our country, on an individual basis, this can become quite controversial. It is a practice that is exercised in most countries, but many of these countries have the space and infrastructure to accommodate this. I tend to agree that young citizens, like our athletes returning from Beijing, deserve the honor, but we may want to wait for many of them to establish a more permanent “track record” before we immortalize them.

We can be assured that the practice will be criticized, due to the fact that there have been so many deserving candidates for such honor in Jamaica’s relatively short history as a nation. I am wondering if we could find some kind of compromise to get us out of this predicament. It would be regrettable if we sat back, did nothing, and the rest of the world make us look bad by capitalizing upon the feats of our Beijing athletes, even if it may be for opportunistic reasons, such as economics or plain greed.

I live in America, and was planning a visit to Tyson Gay’s home town, just to thumb my nose at him. I thought better of the idea, however. Knowing the Americans, I may make that visit only to find that the Main Street of Tyson’s home town has been renamed Bolt Avenue! Let me make a suggestion that could, possibly, satisfy everyone. Maybe we could find a stadium, or sports complex, even like the one in Trelawny, and find a name for it that could honor the entire Beijing Olympic Team from Jamaica.

I would even suggest that we call it something like: the Bejing Olympics Leadership and Track Athletes Complex. So, what if the name just happens to contain an acronym that just happens to spell the word “BOLT”? How many of us ever set that many records in one Olympics? I would not want to rob anybody of the pleasure of shortening the name and simply calling such a venue The BOLT Athletics Complex.

That would be their choice, not mine! Come to think of it, I would suggest that you consider this idea. It is much easier to do than naming the entire Island after this young man that has made us so very proud, as did the entire Jamaica contingent to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In such a venue, we could then erect statues of all our Olympic track stars, and plaques all over the place, honoring them in the best possible way–a virtual museum. You never can tell. This could be quite a tourist attraction! As a matter of fact, the old American saying could become a reality: “If you build a stadium, they will come!” The world, including America, thinks that we have something special in Jamaica that makes our runners that fast. Let’s bottle that, and sell it! Yellow Yam from Trelawny may well be priced out of our reach, in the USA, at this very moment.

About the author

Dr. Burnie A. Hines