Boldon: T&T can learn from Jamaica

Kern De Freitas

Monday, November 10th 2008

Being able to look at the ‘big picture’ is a key ingredient to Trinidad and Tobago’s future in athletics.

This is the view of former Trinidad and Tobago sprint star Ato Boldon.

“We can never be happy with ‘we had a good year,’” Boldon told the Express Saturday during a seminar for relay sprinters at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. He indicated that T&T track and field needs to have a broader view of the future.

The quadruple Olympic medallist was at the Mucurapo Road venue, lending his expertise to some young up-and-coming relay athletes, along with some experienced junior coaches. The event was hosted by the National Amateur Athletics Association of T&T (NAAA).

Boldon explained that Jamaica’s success at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was due to the fact that they do not just live in the moment, but they plan for the future as well.

“A lot of people were surprised it didn’t happen to Jamaica earlier,” he said.

“Their culture is different. They never take their foot off the gas. It doesn’t matter how they’ve done, they’re always looking for the next thing.”

Boldon, along with some local coaches, used the seminar to impart their knowledge of relay techniques, such as baton passing and running within lanes. The six-hour seminar was split into two sessions, three hours of theory, and then two hours of practical training on either side of lunch, followed by a question and answer session.

The 34-year-old former athlete also said that T&T have great potential for the future of athletics, and it was just a case of taking that potential into strong performances at the senior level.

“We have some of the best juniors teams in our history in the past six to seven years,” he said. “They have done what other (past) juniors didn’t do.”

Boldon indicated that after having the “blessing” of a long track and field career for T&T, it is important to give back to his successors, just as veteran footballer’s Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy are lending their experience to the national football team.

He also feels the Caribbean Games can do a lot for track and field in T&T, exposing youngsters to more world class athletes, like sprint double world record holder Usain Bolt.

"It’s one thing to see them (top athletes) on TV. It’s another thing when you see them in person.

“It helps to change our (laid back) culture.”

Boldon also touched on his time at NBC, where he was one of the commentators during the Olympic Games.

" I am extremely proud of what I’ve done at NBC more than anything," he said.

Despite objections by many over his criticism of Bolt’s celebrations during the Olympics, Boldon said he was encouraged by many other positive comments about his stint with the American TV network.

“But what hurt me the most,” he revealed, “is the fact that my mother is Jamaican. Anybody that knows me could never accuse me of being anti-Jamaican,” he said as he referred to the magnitude of Bolt’s great achievement, including three gold medals and two world records at the Games.

Still, Boldon is looking forward to the Emmy awards after getting some favourable reviews for his Olympic analyses.

“I’m looking forward to the Emmy’s,” he said, “not only the chance of getting a nomination, but maybe even winning.”