Lewis Hamilton, a Winning Formula for 3 Decades

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Young Lewis with mentor Ron Dennis (left) and David Coulthard (right)

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton for winning his 4th World Formula One drivers championship. A superb achievement. Yet given Lewis’ unique talent what took him so long?

Fair to say Lewis should have been 6 times Formula One champion by now but for a few run-ins with former teammates such as Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

The success of Lewis has been a truly major achievement for him, his family and supporting staff.

The first time I came across Lewis Hamilton’s name was in the mid 1990s when he was featured in the weekly British black newspaper The Voice.  In that article the young Lewis and his father Anthony Hamilton shared their dreams of success and following in the footsteps of the late Ayrton Senna.

In those days seeing an article featuring  a British black kid racing driver was different and unusual.

The Voice carried further articles on the young Lewis and that made me (and my late brother) develop a keen interest in his career. Lewis’ time in Formula Three racing was just astonishing.

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Anthony and Lewis Hamilton

I have been Formula One fan for a long time. My two favourite drivers were Ayrton Senna and Ronnie Peterson. When I worked at Heathrow Airport during the late 1990s I made a discreet point of seeing some of the drivers whenever they came through Terminal 4.

In 2007 Lewis got his big break with Formula One with the Mclaren team. I was as excited as if it was my own son who won the drive.

Pundits expected Lewis – in his first year of Formula One -to play 2nd fiddle to his more illustrious team mate and 2-time world champion Fernando Alonso. But knowing Lewis’ career up to then I suspected he was never going to be anyone’s number 2.

The head of the Mclaren team was Ron Dennis and he was also Lewis’ mentor from his junior days. Dennis gave Lewis the freedom to race Alonso fairly.

Hamilton had an incredible first season with Mclaren which infuriated Alonso. I was convinced Hamilton was good enough to win the world title as a rookie.

Irritatingly, Lewis missed out winning the title by just 1 point (same points as Alonso) to eventual champion Kimi Räikkönen. Alonso decided to leave Mclaren after just one season with the team.

Whenever Lewis won Formula One races I was ecstatic. If he crashed out off went the TV.

Lewis has had many controversial moments throughout his career. His aggressive racing style was not appreciated by some. There were times Lewis felt the world was conspiring against him after a few untimely engine failures, pit stop blunders and run-ins with the race stewards.

When Lewis and his dad had a major falling out I was disappointed knowing how hard and long both had worked to get to the top of motor racing.

Some British fans lost respect for Lewis when he moved to Switzerland for tax purposes. Last week’s news (via the Paradise Papers) on Lewis’ more recent tax avoidance maneuvers added fuel to their anger. Those fans have a point. Given the exorbitant ticket prices for the British Grand Prix.

But in Lewis’ defence most current and previous Formula One drivers play by the same tax avoidance rules. Such as British drivers Jenson Button (Jersey), David Coulthard (Monaco) and Nigel Mansell (Isle of Man) and they were hardly criticised.

Whatever we say about Lewis he brings excitement and thrills both on and off the track. Even the fashion police take a keen interest in Lewis’ off the track attire.

Formula One fans either hate or love Lewis. Spanish fans usually gave him a rough time due to their affinity with compatriot Alonso.

So to see Lewis crowned four time champion and the main attraction for the sport reminds me of those early Voice articles and the Hamilton family’s early dreams of Formula One success and stardom.

Well done all.

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Jamaican Dies in Immigration Removal Centre? Who Cares?

Five weeks ago a Jamaican man detained at the UK’s Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincoln died. How do we know this? Thanks to a single Guardian article (see below) published on 4 October.

“…Investigation has been launched into the death of a 38-year-old immigration detainee after the Home office confirmed that a Jamaican man died on Tuesday while he was being held at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincoln. It is the third such death in less than a month and human rights campaigners have expressed alarm at the incident. The prisons and probation ombudsman has begun an investigation.

The charity Medical Justice, which works to improve the health of immigration detainees, has documented deaths since 2000. With this latest case the death toll of those who have died in immigration detention or shortly after release since that time stands at 43…….”

Since then there’s been little information in the public domain on this death apart from a letter written by detainees at Morton Hall sent to The Unity Centre in Scotland. Excerpts from detainees’ letter below …..

Mr Carlinton Spencer was a detainee here at Morton Hall. Unfortunately Mr Spencer aka (Rasta) died in hospital on the 2nd of October 2017.

This whole ordeal started on Thursday the 28th of September 2017 when two of Mr Spencer’s friends turned at his room in Fry Unity 3/06. They noticed that the door was unlocked and the room was dark, however they heard some sort of distress voice coming from inside. They both came in and switched the lights on. They found Mr Spencer lying in floor in agony and unable to get back in bed. They assisted him and put him on his bed. One of them went to the office in Fry unit and informed the officers. Two female officers arrived an started speculating that Mr Spencer’s condition was induced by drugs consumption. Few minutes later a nurse came in and failed to assess Mr Spencer’s conditions properly. The nurse put a tissue on Mr Spencer’s hand, asked him to wipe his own nose when she could clearly see this was not possible. According to these two detainee’s testimony the nurse assisted Mr Spencer’s hands to wipe his own nose but his hand kept pulling back down. The officers and the nurse asked Rasta’s two friends to leave the room but one of them insisted to stay.

On Friday the 29th of September 2017 about midday, another detainee went to Mr Spencer’s room to check on him. But this point Mr Spencer was shaking in his bed and looking in a very bad state. This detainee informed the officers in Fry unit while another detainee went to the health care and dragged the medical professional to come to check on Mr Spencer’s conditions. Few detainees were standing outside Mr Spencer’s door when the nurse and doctor arrived. The officers asked the detained to go away but they decided they would not leave until Mr Spencer is taking to a hospital. An ambulance arrived at about 2pm and Mr Spencer was then taken to hospital.

It has now been said that Mr. Spencer suffered another stroke while in the back of the ambulance on his way to hospital and in fact he was in a (non induced) coma in hospital and died on Monday 2nd of October 2017. We were not told by IRC Morton Hall staff of this until Wednesday 4th of October 2017.

I know one detainee Mr T put a written complaint on Saturday because he directly witnessed what happen to Mr Spencer and how he was neglected. Mr T was moved to the CCU on Monday 2nd of October 2017 in the afternoon and now has been moved out of this centre but no one can get a hold of him.”

  • Why has the UK & Jamaican media paid little attention to this tragedy?
  • Why the silence in the UK black community?
  •  Has the Jamaican govt – through its UK Ambassador – issued a public statement or update?
  • Has an autopsy been conducted and details published?

The death of detainees based at UK immigration removal centres is nothing new. The mental and physical abuse of detainees is common and well documented. Even the UN has raised concerns in the past.

Those detainees who know the rules and try to fight back legally are threatened by UK authorities with immediate deportation.

Yarl Wood Immigration Revmoval Centre has had a poor record of abuse against detainees. Just recently officials at a removal centre near Gatwick were suspended following abuse and assault claims.

The silence in the coverage and interests in Carlinton Spencer’s death is sad but not surprising.

 

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Posted in human rights, Immigration, jamaica, jamaican, UK, UK NEWS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL vs Trump: False Start

On 24 and 25 September 2017, NFL players, management and owners protested seemingly in response to Trump’s “son of a bitch” comments; made days earlier about players who protest during the playing of the US national anthem.

I found the whole protests against Trump’s “divisive” comments very bizarre and confusing.

  • Were the NFL teams protesting in solidarity for quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s fight for social justice, which led to him being barred from playing? Hardly 
  • Were they protesting about free speech and the right to protest? 
  • Were players standing up to Trump in a cowardly fashion knowing management had their backs?
  • Or did Trump just piss off the NFL owners so much that they had no option but to do something in response?

Suddenly some on the left and Democrats are supporting the stance taken last weekend by the teams. Some Democratic politicians such as Sheila Jackson Lee were seen taking the knee in Congress in support of the NFL teams.

This is political opportunism of the worse form. Where were they last year when Kaepernick made his protest – during Obama’s administration?

Now the Republicans are using the anthem row as a route to raise campaign funds.

There were some current and former players protesting last weekend who for months have publicly slammed Kaepernick’s protest actions. Chief among them Ray Lewis.

The irony is that Kaepernick did state that for this NFL season he would not sit or take the knee during the playing of the US national anthem. His stance and message was clear and simple. Kap’s moved on.

Since Trump hit Pennsylvania Avenue some Americans are getting into a tizzy over free speech and the right to protest.

The left is applying threats and violence to shut down controversial Conservatives from speaking at colleges and the right are up in arms over protest stances during the playing of national anthem.

You have to hand it to Donald J Trump.

In a week when the GOP Obamacare Repeal 3.911 got buried once again by his arch enemy Senator John McCain, Trump manage to deflect attention with this NFL anthem angle. The NFL and mainstream media (for the umpteenth time) fell for his deflecting stunt.

Instead the media should have hammered Trump’s initial reaction to the 2 hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico.

Trump has every right to the use the flag & national anthem to talk up the US military. But remember in 2015, what Trump said about McCain?

He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

To which Republican Senator Lindsey Graham then responded:

“If there was ever any doubt that @realDonaldTrump should not be our commander in chief, this stupid statement should end all doubt.” “At the heart of @realDonaldTrump statement is a lack of respect for those who have served – a disqualifying characteristic to be president.”

If the NFL teams really wanted to stick it right up Trump’s jacksie, they could have carried out one simple act. Sign Colin Kaepernick.

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Trump threw a fake pass….

Denver Broncos versus the Buffalo Bills

… & the NFL teams fell for it

Posted in Current affairs, donald trump, GOP, human rights, NFL, politics, Republican Party, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1968 – Tommie Smith, 2017 – Colin Kaepernick. What’s Changed?

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin

As the new NFL season kicks off, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been denied a chance of playing by team owners and management.

In taking the knee last season during playing of the national anthem Kaepernick has paid a heavy price. Yet all he did was protest against the injustices of the criminal justice system. Especially police brutality and racial profiling against blacks.

Contrary to what some of his critics and detractors have said Kaepernick (known to his teammates as “Kap”)  is still a decent NFL quarterback worthy of a starting position. At times in Kap’s career he was superlative, especially from 2012-2014 under coach Jim Harbaugh for the San Francisco 49ers.

Yes, Kap’s form had dipped (following surgery) and he started last season as a reserve quarterback for the same San Francisco 49ers. But by the end of the season Kap had won back his starting place. He played well despite working under head coach Chip Kelly who was fired due to poor results.

I admire Kap for taking such a brave and unpopular stance. In an era when sport stars and other high profile figures have been criticised for their lack of genuine political and social activism Kap has stood up courageously. Kap’s protest was non-violent.

Do I agree with all of Kap’s comments? No. But it is so refreshing to see a young man like Kap speaking up.

In the UK you hardly ever witness British sporting stars taking the lead on any activist stances. When there is ample need for such figures to front up and set an example. In Jamaica such stars stay far away from the activist platform. Sad.

If there was one criticism I had of Usain Bolt was, despite declaring his love for all things British, he said nothing on the harsh immigration controls stacked against Jamaicans hoping to visit the UK. The only time Bolt spoke out on an UK based issue was on his taxes!

I admire Kap for protesting during the Obama presidency in particular. The mainstream media and liberal activists kept their coverage/outrage over racial profiling issues to a dignified minimum, so as not to upset the Obama administration.

What I find strange is the lack of genuine support from high profile black figures who usually love to join a political bandwagon. They all seem scared to support Kap for fear of harming their own financial interests and lucrative sponsorship deals.

However, I feel that some on the left were angry when Kap called out Hillary Clinton (as he did Trump) during the presidential campaign.

Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”

Some in Conservative circles were ecstatic when former sports stars Jim Brown and George Foreman publicly slammed Kap for his actions. Brown accused Kap over defaming the US flag (which Kap never did).

Brown also added that Kap needed to decide whether to be an activist or an NFL player. Is Brown implying an activist cannot have a job? 

Brown shows a high degree of hypocrisy given during the 1960s he too was a respected civil rights activist whilst being an NFL player and subsequently a Hollywood actor.

But former baseball legend Hank Aaron has come out in support for Kap. So too Tommie Smith. Aaron said he will boycott watching any NFL games this season.

The stance taken by Kap has similarities to the black power salute by US sprinters  John Carlos and  Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games.

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l-r Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos @ 1968 Olympics Games

Back then Smith and Carlos were banned from athletics for life for their stance by Olympics chief Avery Bundage an admire of Adolf Hilter.

In his auto bio “Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith explained how he felt let down at the time of his stance in 1968 by a number of black athletes including Jim Brown and George Foreman. Smith stated other black athletes such as former 100m world record holder Jim Hines blamed him for loss of earnings.

Even NFL team LA Rams withdrew from drafting Smith to play for them.

Today, Tommie Smith and John Carlos are now revered as icons and are feted all over the globe. I attended such an event in Smith’s honour in London 2011.

Will Kap endure the same fate as Smith and Carlos? Call it what you like but Kap is being banned dressed up as “poor form”, “unpatriotic” & “distraction”.

There are 32 clubs in the NFL. Each team has up to 3 quarterbacks on the roster meaning there are roughly 96 in the league. Yet no place can be found for Kap who is one of the top 20 quarterbacks of the last 5 years.

New York Jets is one NFL team with a consistent record of recruiting and developing  third-rate quarterbacks. Some NFL experts do not expect the Jets to win a single game this season due to the club’s current quarterback deficiencies.

But there is no chance of the Jets hiring Kap as their quarterback or even as a reserve given the owner – Woody Johnson – is a Trump supporter and current US ambassador to the UK. Trump came out earlier this year and predicted with confidence that no NFL team would hire Kap.

Kap’s charity efforts has been noble and well documented. .He recently donated $800k to a number causes relating to young people. Last week Kap donated $33k to assist former incarcerated men and women prepare for employment.

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Jim Brown Slams Kap

The hypocrisy of the NFL is stark. There have been numerous NFL players who have committed serious criminal offences such as drinking driving & killing a pedestrian (Donté Stallworth), child abuse (Adrian Peterson), animal abuse (Michael Vick) and domestic abuse (Greg Hardy); yet all were given contracts after serving suspensions and/or convictions.

Greg Hardy was hired by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who felt the player deserved a second chance following his domestic abuse issues. Yet this week Jones warned his players that they will be fired if they make any Kap-like protest.

Then there is quarterback Brock Osweiler, who in 2016 moved from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans in a $72million deal in 2016.

Brock was so awful that the Texans gave up on him last season and off went Brock to the Cleveland Browns this summer. But before Brock could even play a single game Cleveland quickly moved him on –  back to the Denver Broncos. Brock will be paid  $775,000 by the Broncos and $15.2 million by the Browns.

 

IMG_2048Hank Aaron Supports Kap

One NFL player who has consistently supported Kap’s activist stance is Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks. After the recent events in Charlottesville Bennett said he will not stand for the National Anthem at NFL games. On 26 August Bennett had his own frightening experience with the police in Las Vegas which he described in an emotional tweet.

for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time” and the police threatening to “blow his fucking head off”.

Police brutality is still real for black people in the US and UK. Black Canadians have amplified similar concerns.

Racial profiling against black people by the police, the wider society in the US and UK is just the norm. It is so common in the UK as you are prejudged before you can say boo.

Yet there are times when you have stand up and speak out. If others are upset by your (non-violent) stance, then tough.

Many Republican and Conservative supporters would have us believe that some black people are over reacting to the issue of racial profiling.

But in the US Congress itself, Republican Senator Tim Scott spoke earlier this year of the numerous racial profiling encounters he has faced; even on Capitol Hill.

“”The (police) officer looked at me, a little attitude, and said, ‘The pin I know — you I don’t. Show me your ID,'” Scott said. “Later that evening I received a phone call from his supervisor apologizing.” Scott went on to add…

“I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell, no matter the profession, no matter the income, no matter their disposition in life”

Kap’s stance received worldwide attention and generated discussions that any well meaning government or think tank report could not have achieved.

Just last week in the UK, Labour MP David Lammy produced a report on the “discrimination against black and ethnic minority people (BAME) in the criminal justice system”. In the report Lammy stated that in England and Wales blacks make up 3% of the population and 12% of the prisons.

  • Beyond the media, political and legal circles is anyone aware of Lammy’s report?
  • Has the tabloid press covered the story with passion and thrust?
  • Are discussions going on in the media today?
  • Is the African American community discussing the report?

Hardly.

Kap’s simple stance gained more traction, more awareness and more outrage in the UK than Lammy’s report.

  • Can you imagine the publicity (+ FIFA outrage) if a black English footballer like say Rio Ferdinand had made such a protest similar to that of Kap in the UK?

Just as with Tommie Smith and John Carlos will the noble actions of Colin Kaepernick be acknowledged 50 years too late?

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Colin Kaepernick deserves to play

 

This is America. Anyone is free to protest about anything they want.” – Nikki Haley US Ambassador to the UN

Posted in black history, Colin Kaepernick, NFL, sport, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goodbye Mr Bolt – Hopefully We’ll Meet Again

It was 17 years ago in Jamaica when a relative of mine said to me “Reggie Bolt have one relative, him fast you see Gary”.

Now the late Reggie Bolt was a childhood friend of my dad who grew up in the Davis District near Old Harbour during the 1920s-1950s. Reggie eventually migrated – like my dad – to England in the 1950s. Reggie passed away in the 1990s.

Never thought much about my relative’s comments as in Jamaica everyone knows someone who has seen a child who can run very fast!

Then in 2002 I saw the high school champs results in the local paper and there was Bolt’s name in the race results.

But when Bolt won so emphatically at the World Juniors I had caught a bit of Bolt fever.

It was now my turn to tell folks in London that Bolt will be the next star of athletics and that Michael Johnson’s 200 metres world record is toast.

When Bolt moved to the senior level I was hyping his expectations at various upcoming major events between 2005 & 2007. But Bolt’s ascendancy stalled due to injuries or some below star performances.

Then in 2008 the Bolt phenomenon  took off courtesy of his world records and Olympic gold medal exploits in Beijing. I felt relieved about my hyping of the young man.

In June 2009 I was in the departure lounge at Kingston’s international airport heading home to London. As I browsed the merchandise in a gift shop I heard a crashing sound. I turned to see Usain Bolt laying across the counter chatting playfully to the 2 female staff.

Stunned, I pointed at Bolt and said “Don’t Move!” as I rummaged through my bag for the camera.

Bolt willingly posed for photos (now lost) and we had a good chat. He too was heading to London but on a different flight to mine. The departures area was filled with athletes heading to Europe following Jamaica’s national trials.

I was struck by Bolt’s humility and his maturity. Looking back what also hit me was that there was this young global superstar in a small shop with no handlers, no agent chatting willingly to little old me.

At the end of our chat I told Bolt I will see him race in London at an athletics event in Crystal Palace weeks later.

Seeing Bolt race in the flesh at full tilt is something else. That cold wet evening at Crystal Palace Bolt blew away his rivals.

But as he did his lap of honour he spotted me and gave a nod. For that minute you could imagine one’s ego in the stands. I was also struck by how fast he ‘jogged’ his lap of honour!

It was at that Crystal Palace meet where I saw firsthand the star appeal of Bolt to young fans. In all the major events I ever attended I had never seen hundreds of children gravitate comfortably to a personality as they did to Bolt.

To me Jamaica on a whole took longer to fully appreciate Bolt’s star appeal than say the European public.

At that time many Jamaicans I knew still held Asafa Powell in a much higher regard than Bolt despite Bolt’s stunning achievements in the 2008 – 2012 period. Some spoke out against his playful behavior before in the races. Some had described Bolt as a clown.

Many would continue to doubt Bolt’s chances of winning gold medals at every major championships he participated.

(Who can forget when Bolt returned from Beijing in 2008 and was greeted at Kingston’s airport by fans, wagonists and politicians? Only for the then Prime Minister Bruce Golding to address Bolt as “Asafa”.)

We must not forget that some top sporting officials were not impressed by Bolt’s pre race behaviour and post race celebrations. e.g. former Olympics chief Jacques Rogge.

Former top sprinters such as Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene found it difficult for years to pay Bolt any genuine credit. Lewis in particular just kept sniping innuendos at Bolt.

But former sprinters such as Ato Bolden, Michael Johnson and Darren Campbell fully appreciated the excellence of Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt gave Jamaica immense credibility and publicity across the globe. More than it deserved at times. Even this week after relay disappointment the anti-Bolt brigade has resurfaced again in Jamaica.

Bolt the man was beyond sport and moved at great speed into popular culture across the globe and stayed there.

The best example of Bolt’s stardom for me was in 2009 when he kicked off a football match in Spain that included Real Madrid.

 I feel one of Bolt’s greatest off the track achievements was forcing the UK government to change their tax laws on non-UK resident athletes appearing at local meets. Previously the UK would tax visiting athletes on their entire worldwide earnings and not what was earned solely in the UK.

My only slight (greedy-of-me) criticism of Bolt was that in the last 5 years he rarely raced his main rivals such as Justin Gatlin outside of major championships.

Disappointed too that Bolt and his training partner Yohan Blake agreed in later years never to face each other in non championship races. Especially after Blake became a genuine rival in 2011.

Such moves just robbed the fans of regular sprinting battles that would have boosted the sport’s overall popularity.

Imagine if in tennis Federer and Nadal faced each other just once or twice a year? 

Many say Bolt is the greatest athlete of all time but that is just bar or Facebook talk. Bolt is the best of his generation.  He is definitely one of the most charismatic human beings the world has seen.

I could never say compare Bolt’s on-the-track exploits with the likes of say Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen, Bob Hayes, Wilma Rudolph, Edwin Moses and Tommie Smith.  Bolt and these former sprinters were great for their respective eras.

E.g. Tommie Smith’s (who once held 11 sprint world records) ascendancy to greatness was blocked due to his civil rights stance in Mexico 1968.

These other greats ran on inferior surfaces, were amateurs and thus could never afford the luxury of running in multiple Olympic Games. There was no such thing as a World Championship for athletes until 1983.

For Bolt to stay at the top for over a decade has been truly remarkable. Greatest of all time is relative.

No surprise that Bolt lost the 100 metres in London last week. He was just never 100% prepared or fit.

When your surname is Bolt and you are the fastest man in the world you are a gift to the advertising industry; especially with an engaging personality like Usain. I am so pleased Bolt maximised his popularity to good use and made himself a very rich man.

Will Usain Bolt return to the track? I hope so. For one last stab at his favourite distance – 200 metres. Yet the injury he suffered in London looks far more serious than was earlier reported.

If he does not return to the track, then thank you Mr Usain Bolt you made the world smile. You epitomized that popular mantra of enjoying your profession & have fun doing it.

Given Bolt’s girlfriend Kasi Bennett’s roots is 5 streets away from my parent’s home in Old Harbour I am sure we will see him and around the local area.

If only Reggie Bolt had lived to witness the illustrious career of one his own.

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Blew away his rivals including the tax man

Posted in athletics, black history, bolt, Caribbean, jamaica, jamaican, sport, sports, track and field, usain bolt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

IAAF Prize Money Sucks: Do Athletes Need Their Heads Testing?

Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and other top athletes are in the final stages preparing for the IAAF World Championship Athletics at the Olympic Stadium in London this August.

Next to the Summer Olympic Games the biennial IAAF World Championship is the biggest event for the athletes and fans.

Bolt and Farah have for the last decade made athletics appealing and fun to watch. But as athletes face anti doping tests this summers I wonder if their brains also needs checking too.

In 2007 the World Championship prize money for the finalists were as follows:

Place Individual.      Relay (per team)
1st     $60,000            $80,000
2nd   $30,000            $40,000
3rd    $20,000            $20,000
4th     $15,000            $16,000
5th.    $10,000            $12,000
6th     $6,000              $8,000
7th     $5,000              $6,000
8th     $4,000              $4,000

Since 2007 athletics has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity worldwide thanks to the achievements and ascendancy of stars including Bolt, Farah, Allyson Felix, David Rudisha, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Valerie Adams, Christian Taylor, Sally Pearson, Jessica Ennis and Wayde van Niekirk. Athletics is one of those rare sports where super stars come from right across the globe.

The last 2 World Championships were held in 2013 (Moscow) & 2015 (Beijing) respectively and was seen on TV in over 200 nations. More than the Super Bowl.

With the upcoming World Championships in London I can guarantee that each session (rain or shine) will draw a sell-out crowd and an incredible atmosphere.

With that said the prize money for London 2017 will be as follows:

Place   Individual. Relay (per team)
1st.     $60,000       $80,000
2nd    $30,000       $40,000
3rd.    $20,000       $20,000
4th     $15,000       $16,000
5th.    $10,000       $12,000
6th     $6,000         $8,000
7th     $5,000.        $6,000
8th     $4,000         $4,000

No prize money increase since 2007.

  • How could such these athletes allow the governing body – IAAF – to get away with not increasing prize money for 10 years?
  • How could a former star athlete such as lord Sebastian Coe sit on the IAAF board throughout this period and not push for increased prized money? Coe has been IAAF president since 2015.

In the world of top class professional sports this freeze on any prize money increase is just crazy. It does not make business or sporting sense.

Next week’s Wimbledon tennis tournament in London will be seen in as many countries as that of the World Championship Athletics. Yet each loser (32 players) in the second round of Wimbledon will each earn $74,000.

In 2007 the Wimbledon single title winners each took home roughly $1.4 million. In 2017 the single title winners will each receive $2.8 million.

Since 2012, athletics has faced some bad publicity over a number of doping and corruption scandals, leading to the likes of Adidas ending their official sponsorship of the sport. But athletics is still an attractive enough sport to maximize lucrative sponsorship deals.

Contrary to popular myths other sports have also suffered bad press over doping & other scandals. Yet they continue to thrive with major financial deals/prize money for their top players. e.g. Major League Baseball, NFL and MMA.

[The winner of the PDC World Professional Darts championship  in 2017 won just over $450,000. Darts!]

I am not sure if the athletes have a trade union type body that speaks collectively on their behalf, but they certainly need stronger group representation when negotiating with the IAAF. This oversight by the athletes in the prize money for the Worlds is quite frankly unprofessional.

With a month still to go before the World Championship starts; should the athletes make a last ditch effort for improved prize money for the London event?

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Sebastian Coe – International Athletics Austerity Fund?

 

 

 

Posted in anti-doping, athletics, BBC, olympics, sport, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Lives Hardly Matter: Jamaica’s Murder Surge

Even by its recent standards Jamaica’s current violent crime rate is scary.

Since the start of 2017 there has been over 660 murders in Jamaica. So far in June alone there has been roughly 84-90 murders (Update: 141 murders as at 27 June) . This murder spree in a nation with a population of just 2.7 million people.

Today it is common to come across reports in Jamaican media of;

  1. Multiple murders from one crime scene.
  2. Children being killed by adults or school mates.
  3. Families in one home being wiped out by guns and arson.
  4. Pensioners (as old as 97) being attacked in their own home and sometimes murdered.
  5. Mob killings in the name of jungle justice.
  6. Killing of those living rough with mental health issues.
  7. Jamaicans returning permanently from overseas violently targeted by criminals.

Just last Wednesday & Thursday there were 20 shootings 8 of which were fatal including 2 children. In one of those incidents that had multiple fatalities, the alleged shooter was a 14 year old boy.

(There’s been at least 45 multiple shootings in 2017.)

For a small country Jamaica’s murder rate has been for decades  a disgrace. In 2011 there were 1117 murders,

  • 2012 (1085 murders),
  • 2013 (1192),
  • 2014  (1005),
  • 2015 (1200) and
  • 2016 (1350).

Given the current murder rate for 2017, Jamaica could sadly be on course to get close to the horrendous figure in 2005 when there were 1674 murders.

One senior police official told parliament last week that there is a need to bring the current murder rate down to 30 a month. His comments may seem laughable but it is the reality of what Jamaicans are facing today.

The current Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has suggested that the media should not popularise these murders as it gives Jamaica a bad image and could affect the tourist industry. But Bartlett is so wrong as the media would never have the space or time to report on even a tenth of the violent crimes (incl. sexual assaults & robberies) that occurs in Jamaica.

Indeed, I do find it strange that Jamaica’s murder carnage is not covered more widely by the international media. We know the international media would report such violent incidents in Jamaica if a member of the LGBT community or a tourist was attacked.

If Jamaica’s murder wave was covered in the international media then maybe local politicians, security services and wider society would be more proactive in tackling violent crime effectively.

The causes of the high violent crime rate are many. Causes include short tempers, gang warfares, money, illegal drugs trade, materialism, relationships, envy,  grudges and the profilerations of (& easy access to) illegal firearms.

We can not ignore the political violence of previous decades has also had an impact on certain violent crime activities today.

https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06KINGSTON758_a.html

https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/07KINGSTON1470_a.html

In the past 10 years it is frightening to see how many personal friends and acquaintances of mine that have been murdered. It affects your mindset deeply makes you wonder – why?

Jamaica’s security services & governments were caught napping for decades as thousands of guns were illegal imported from Haiti via Jamaica’s southern coast.

But for me Jamaica has simply lost the respect and value for human life. People get into violent skirmishes over the slightest issue.

Children or elderly being murdered is so common that any public outrage last for 48 hours before the news cycle moves on to next such report.

I wish there is a quick solution to stem the crime surge. Jamaica officially is not at war but the data paints a tragic picture.

The current Jamaica Labour Party government and the opposition People’s National Party should both swallow their political pride and ego and agree to take a bi-partisan approach to crime reduction and community safety for even 1 term.

It is embarrassing to see National Security Ministers and the official opposition trying to score political points over which government had a better record reducing the number of murders. Even though both had over 1000 murders annually under their watch.

The current Jamaican government is planning to bring in measures under a new Anti-Crime Bill which include curfews aka as special crime zones.

Jamaica needs sustained help from the international community. The security forces alone cannot stem this crime surge. Society needs a reset on how one’s life should be treasured and respected.

It is critical for Jamaica to seek serious international assistance to bring in the technology and expertise personnel to reduce crime, without affecting the human rights of law abiding citizens..

  • More than ever Jamaica needs sophisticated and integrated CCTV systems which includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) supported by command centres. This system is needed across the island to assist in the solving and prevention of violent crime. The techno and expertise is there across the globe.
  • Jamaica needs help on modern good practice initiatives for the effective rehabilitation of offenders. E.g Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior
  • There is a need for international assistance to help forensic experts to speed up their investigations as too many violent crimes go unsolved or just not investigated.
  • Education and Community Development has to play a more vital role at empowering the youths into career paths away from crime.

On a whole it is the Jamaican society that has to help each other to cut out this carnage in the medium to long term.

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11 year old Taysha Hughes – one of the latest victims of gun crime

Update 30 August: 114 Murders In 20 Days – More Than 1,000 Jamaicans Killed Since The Start Of The Year

Posted in Current affairs, jamaica, jamaican | Tagged , , | 4 Comments