NATIONAL TREASURES The Rio Olympics are over and can claim to have been an athletic success. Pre-game warnings about guests and athletes running a great risk of being robbed, shot, falling sick with the Zika virus, or getting violently ill by coming in contact with sewage-contaminated water proved to be greatly exaggerated. Of course, there were reports of robberies and athletes and guests becoming ill, but so far, nothing on the scale of the pre-game predictions. Jamaica had a very successful Rio Olympics. We ended up with 11 medals, one short of the 12 garnered in Beijing, but with more gold than the record Beijing haul. Sadly, our nation says goodbye to the greatest male athlete of all time, as our ‘hero’ Usain Bolt has stated that Rio would be his last Olympics. The question for me (and hopefully the nation) is: what next? Without Bolt’s guaranteed three gold medals, will our medal tally suffer in Tokyo, the venue of the 2010 Olympic Games? The answer lies in planning. The nation’s sports administrators need to start planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from September 2016. Talent of Jamaicans in multiple sports need to be identified and nurtured in order to qualify for the next Olympics. Once identified, these athletes need to be supported financially, medically and with the best coaching that money can buy. Yes, what money can buy; as a previous prime minister said, “it takes cash to care.” Money is a performance enhancer. When communism was rife, countries that realised the importance of sports would ’employ’ athletes in order to ensure that they could spend all their time practising (training), thus resulting in them being better able to win medals in games like the Olympics. Western countries frowned on this practice as these countries (albeit with the aid of drugs and corruption) dominated the medal table. With communism being defeated, what now entails is much of the same. Some of the countries that were most vociferous in condemning the practice of state-sponsored professional athletes now find themselves doing the same thing. In 1996, England subsidised the participation of its athletes in the Olympics to the tune of £5 million. They won 15 medals at the Olympics. This embarrassing result saw England subsidising sports to the tune of £54 million in 2000. England garnered 28 medals. In 2012, England subsidised sports to the tune of £264 million: England garnered 65 medals. This year (2016), England subsidised sports to the tune of £350 million and they surpassed that amount of medals this year. England gave their athletes £28,000 annually to allow them to concentrate on training. This is exactly what communist countries were doing in the past. This year at the Rio Olympics, England increased their medal tally and was just edged out on the last day of competition from second place in the medal tally. Back home, here in Jamaica, the Government has announced a subsidy reported to be in the region of J$60,000 monthly. It is a literal drop in the bucket, but a very important start that needs to be increased, especially with no present male superstar on the horizon. When one looks at the reality of an Olympic athlete’s financial support in the build-up to Olympic qualifying performances, it is soon recognised as very obvious that if it wasn’t for our natural west African genetic superiority, Jamaica would not be the world athletic power that it most certainly is now. We need to understand the potential benefits to be reaped from our athletes’ performances on the world stage. We need to invest more in their preparation (facilities, coaching, medical issues and anti-doping) and upon doing so with taxpayers’ money, we (Jamaica) need to ensure that these athletes are not exploited by greedy support staff, who see these athletes as a money tree and not as national treasures. It takes cash to care. Let us, with one accord, insist on a state-sponsored fund geared specifically for Olympic preparation. Our athletes deserve no less. Congrats to our Jamaican Olympians. You are all national treasures. Thanks.
Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Scarlett Johansson, Sterling K. Brown among SAG Awards presenters Conor McGregor seeks to emerge from controversy in UFC comeback LATEST STORIES View comments Jalalon admits just trying to mess with Santos’ head during spat Cabuyao City rising above the ashes through volunteerism Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netJune Mar Fajardo is foregoing his annual Holy Week sabbatical to Cebu with still a lot of work ahead for San Miguel in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Magnolia.“Not yet. We have work to do here,” he said in Filipino after the Beermen knotted the best-of-seven series with a 92-77 Game 2 win over the Hotshots on Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina In Liverpool, Man United sees the pain and path to recovery Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Recto seeks to establish Taal rehab body to aid community, eruption victims MOST READ Coming off a 31-point, 18-rebound showing in Game 1, Fajardo took a back seat this time and chipped in 12 markers, 13 boards, three assists, and three blocks.But as always, his numbers are the least of the Cebuano giant’s concerns as he was just happy to have shared the wealth to his teammates in the triumph.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownThe 28-year-old slotman noted that Magnolia’s 104-102 shock win in Game 1 became a “wake up call” as it reminded San Miguel that nothing comes easy when it comes to the championship dance.“We know we could win if we follow our gameplan. We also give credit to them because they also had a good gameplan,” he said. Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil “For us, we learned that we couldn’t relax. They won’t be here in the Finals if they’re an easy team to beat. So what we need is when we get a big lead, we need to continue pouncing on them,” he said.This time, San Miguel was able to preserve its lead despite Magnolia cutting what was once a 21-point lead down to just seven, 75-68, early in the fourth canto, answering with a 10-0 salvo to restore order, 85-68, with only five minutes remaining in the game.Fajardo now shifts his focus on the Beermen’s preparations for Game 3, slated next Sunday as the series goes on a virtual best-of-five.“We need to use this break wisely and practice as hard as we could. We can’t think of it as a vacation. Again, we need to use this so that we’ll be ready for Game 3,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next