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.
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sea turtle trapped in net freed in Legazpi City Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours “It was a nice finish in the first round, we have five wins against two losses, and we played really well today,” said Pons whose team committed 17 errors against the Golden Tigresses, their best outcome this season after averaging 33.33 miscues per game.“We have to work even harder if we want to replicate in the second round what we did in the first round.”FEU also limited Cherry Rondina who, prior to facing the Lady Tamaraws averaged 23.33 points per game, to just 11 points.“It all began in our training sessions where we talked on how we would stop Sisi,” said Pons who finished with eight points against UST. “Sis likes to hit crosscourt kills so we just have to put blockers on her way and it became effective for us.”ADVERTISEMENT Phivolcs records 2 ‘discrete weak ash explosions’ at Taal Volcano 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 GALLERY: Barangay Ginebra back as PBA Governors’ Cup kings Far Eastern University is the hottest team in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament right now after ending its first round campaign on a four-game winning streak.ADVERTISEMENT UK plans Brexit celebrations but warns businesses may suffer View comments And although the Lady Tamaraws have staked ownership of the second seed in the tournament, skipper Bernadeth Pons knows they have to stay grounded if they plan to sustain their scorching play into the latter half of the season.“I’m always reminding my teammates that even though we are winning, we should not let up because the season is still a long way from being over,” said Pons in Filipino Saturday at Mall of Asia arena after blasting University of Santo Tomas in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-20.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkThe victory propelled the Lady Tamaraws to a 5-2 record, tied with La Salle at second place.Pons said the team was in an elated mood after winning their last game before the second round, but she knows being complacent is not an option for them. Phivolcs records 2 ‘discrete weak ash explosions’ at Taal Volcano MOST READ LATEST STORIES Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina It’s too early to present Duterte’s ‘legacy’ – Lacson UE, Ateneo clash in UAAP lawn tennis finals Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew