first_img However, it wasn’t until Francis, his brother, Paul, the late David Noel and Bruce James formed the MVP and with the consent of the professor of speed, Dennis Johnson, formed an alliance with the University of Technology that has changed the face and the fortunes of Jamaican track and field. Athletes trained by Stephen have set world records and won 56 World Championships and 28 Olympic medals but his contribution is to be measured in more than just medals. On one hand, world records by Asafa Powell and gold medals won by Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Melaine Walker and Brigitte Foster-Hylton have made all Jamaicans proud. On the other, the MVP/UTech model has been copied as well as admired by other ambitious local clubs and institutions. Now, thanks in large part to the example provided by the MVP and UTech, there is a productive Jamaican alternative for those who want to combine athletics with academics. Stephen Francis can be blunt, but those close to him speak as much about his genius as his compassion and his playful sense of humour. At one memorable training session at the National Stadium East field, the coach had the entire training group rolling in laughter. On another, he cracked jokes like a stand-up comic as the group did exercises on the all purpose court in front of the Alfred Sangster Auditorium at the University of Technology. Few will see that side of him but thanks to the National Awards event earlier this week, they can look admiringly at his body of work and say, well done Stephen Francis. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. It’s a sign of how important success in track and field is to Jamaica that the sport’s operatives often get national awards. Just days ago, volunteer official Ian Forbes and coaches Stephen Francis and Maurice Wilson stood in the spotlight on National Heroes Day alongside hundreds who have served the country with distinction. All three deserve to stand in such company. Forbes has continued his family’s record of service in sport. His father, Headley, is a giant, and Ian has carried on brilliantly. In addition to his work at Jamaica College, he has served as a meet official, director of the JC Invitational and manager of national teams at the youth and senior level. Ian and Ray Harvey were especially good as they led the wonderful meet-management team that did Jamaica proud when it staged the 2002 World Junior Championship. Wilson has not only distinguished himself by coaching Holmwood Technical to 10 wins at Girls’ Championships but also by serving as technical leader to Jamaica’s most successful Olympic and World Championship teams and by teaching the next generation of fitness and sport practitioners at the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education and Sport. Now, his Sprintec Track Club has produced a 2017 World Championships medal winner in 400-metre hurdler Ristananna Tracey and a 2014 Commonwealth champion in Rasheed Dwyer. His work, both as teacher and coach, will continue to bear fruit. Before Francis arrived with his MVP Track Club family in 1999, 99.9 per cent of our champions were nurtured abroad. Patrick Robinson made the 1964 Olympic team while a student at the University of the West Indies. Generations later, the Jamalco Track Club guided Michael McDonald to world class in the 400 metres. Successful alliancelast_img read more

first_imgDear Editor,Permit me to thank Mike Persaud for his attention, as he seems to have gone to great lengths to formulate a rather curious response to a letter I previously penned; to questions I didn’t even ask. Persaud states: “Had one of the leaders in Guyana not been a self-proclaimed communist, there would have been no US intervention here.” It is distasteful for anyone, much less a Guyanese, to justify international political bullyism exerted by the West on developing countries, especially those which were already raped by colonial empires, as was Guyana.The Guyanese people who fought for the independence of this country, supported by a smashing majority the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic, even after Burnham decamped, widening the gaps of ethnic fissures as he went. It means therefore, that the people chose Jagan and whatever political ideology he brought with him over Burnham’s, resulting in the party securing the most votes in 1964. Additionally, Jagan’s policies in office, and the thriving economy which resulted thereof, proved him to be all but a communist. Now since Mike Persaud is a fan of “what ifs” and “should haves”, he should imagine what Guyana would have been like had Jagan not suffered the spite of the US.“Dictatorial oppression and ethnic cleavages were the legacies of the intervention. We should not carp over these things, and continue to be embittered by what the United States did. We should just accept it as realpolitik and move forward,” writes Persaud. These are not legacies, but rather a curse which has served no other purpose than to weaken our national sovereignty and impermeability to foreign interference, typical of US foreign policy in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. This laissez-faire attitude adopted in particular by those who attempt to negate the PNC’s responsibilities in our political turmoil, is counterproductive to the formation of a national identity.The remainder of Persaud’s letter is an insult to Guyanese who value our independence and should not even be tolerated in a national daily. The man proposes that “Guyana consider and debate the idea of becoming an overseas state of the United States” so that “every able-bodied adult would have one-and-a-half jobs and the ethnic cleavage problem would disappear as it did in Singapore.” Thankfully, we the Guyanese people are a free nation because we fought for equal and civil rights; for our right to self-determination and liberation from men who considered themselves superior to us.The social dilemma of the people living in the French Antilles and the economic disparities which benefit the Békés – descendants of colonists – is a perfect example of why we fought for our independence back then.Lastly, the US is far from being a socially just and tolerant society. Black Americans are still fighting discrimination in America, Native Americans still live in depravation on State imposed reserves, Latinos are still stigmatised and State sponsored Islamophobia has diabolised Arab immigrants. It is hardly likely that a country which in 240 years, has been unable to resolve its own issues, would resolve ours.Aldous Huxley said, “Men do not learn much from the lessons of history, and that is the most important lesson of history.” I fear that this is quite applicable to the case of Mr Persaud.Sincerely,Anna Correialast_img read more