Last Saturday Jamaica hosted their annual invitational international track and field event at the National Stadium. As usual the performances by the competitors from the host country and international stars were world class.
Excellent winners on the night included local favourite Asafa Powell, local rising star sprinter Elaine Thompson and 21 year old Bahamian Shaunae Miller, who defeated local multi gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a pulsating 200m.
As we all know thanks to the likes of Fraser-Pryce and other local athletes, Jamaica’s standing in global track & field is high. One great aspect of the sport in Jamaica that is the coverage of athletics by local journalists.
As a fan I have followed the media’s coverage of athletics across the English speaking globe for decades. BBC’s coverage over that time has set a high benchmark. The likes of the late Ron Pickering & David Coleman as well as Paul Dickinson and Stuart Storey made the sport interesting to follow thanks to their professionalism.
[Pickering’s mention of winner Bert Cameron’s home town of Spanish Town during the closing stages of the 400m final (1983) made me have a high regard for that commentator.]
BBC continues to deliver a high standard of track & field coverage and since his retirement the great Michael Johnson has added an authority that few can match.
Jamaica has a wealth of superb journalists that matches and even outperforms their counterparts across the (English speaking) media globe. Whether on local tv (TVJ or CVM), radio (choice of many) or in the print the coverage by these journaist is generally first class. Some of these presenters/analysts include:
- Hubert Lawrence – calm, assured. Whether it is a primary school race at the National Stadium or a world hammer throw event Hubert is always fully prepared with the information for the viewer. A proper stats man.
- Ricardo Chambers – passionate, well research and his youthful exuberance does come through on the airwaves. Young as he is Ricardo knows his stuff.
- Bruce James – an encyclopedic font of knowledge. His anecdotal stories on the behind the scenes adds value to the coverage. The way he explains the nuances of some disciplines is relevant to new and regular followers of the sport.
Others you can add to the above list include veteran broadcaster Ed Barnes, Stratton Palmer, Lance Whittaker, Neville Bell, Patrick Anderson plus Evon Hewitt, Robert Williams, Orville Higgins, David Riley, Leighton Levy, Andre Lowe and Wayne Walker. Walker’s post race interviews with the athletes (junior or senior) are relaxing for the athlete and his questions are rarely predictable.
Another Jamaican broadcaster Gary Samuels can be regularly heard on the offical IAAF radio station during major championships.
Unlike some other national broadcasters of the sport these Jamaican journalists are rarely jingoistic for their fellow Jamaican athlete. Excited and proud yes but never ott like some other overseas broadcasters that we all know.
The only criticsm I have is the lack of regular female commentators or analysts. [Given Jamaican female athletes have won more global medals than the men] Although when called upon for their insightful input the likes of former athletes Gillian Russell and Juliet Cuthbert add immensely to the coverage- e.g. during 2012 Olympics.
So as Jamaican athletes continue to excel across the globe, let’s acknowledge that its coverage by journalists in Jamaica is also gold standard.