The Two Fastest Men in the World, and Fastest Woman
Jamaica awakens this morning to the news that Usain Bolt has broken the world record for the 100 m dash.
That is, he has broken Asafa Powell of Jamaica's world record with one of his own. On the same night, Veronica Campbell ran the fastest 100m by a woman this year. (Click here for a report of both races in the New York Times.)
How is Jamaica able to produce such amazing results from an island of a mere 2.6 millions people?
It's simple... the annual high school rivalry in athletics, that we Jamaicans call "Champs" is simply the best event of its kind in the world, and the results are evidence of the passion that we bring to the sport and also our alma
Here is a report I wrote from 2006 Champs, trying to explain this unique phenomena.
I vividly recall sitting around the dinner table with my fellow students at Cornell, talking about high school, and hearing them share how much they hated it. Here in Jamaica, that is a feeling that is rarely expressed, as our predominant feeling with respect to our own high school is one of instant pride that lasts a lifetime. Is is expected, and accepted, and understood to be true.
Representing one's high school in a sporting event like Champs, and winning awards for the school at seen as some of the highest accomplishments, whether it be on the debating team, the football field or on School's Challenge.
It matters not -- high accomplishment stems from school pride, which in turn translates to national pride.
All this when our crime rate (and food prices) have risen alarmingly. How to convert the success in one area of national life to less murders in the other is a question that we might be asking as we celebrate.
Labels: Ja culture