Jamaica doesn’t make sense.
Not on paper, at least. With a population of approximately 2.7 million, there is no definitive reason why its Track and Field athletes have continually ranked faster, higher, stronger than nations such as Great Britain and the United States. We can guess at diet, climate, reggae, sunshine—but we can’t prove a damn thing.
The greatest story to come of the 2012 Summer Games? The one that’s told around the world? It’s Usain Bolt. It’s Jamaica. That little island that could. And did.
The night of the 200m felt right. Right. Mr. Bolt had already shushed his critics and the competition, setting a new Olympic 100m record. Jamaica’s women had secured first and third in their 100m final. So the 200m? It would be nice to get first. Maybe second, too.
Then something happened that crowned Jamaica conqueror of Track & Field.
Jamaica clinched first, second, third.
The encore? A world record-breaking 4x100m Men’s Relay; gold struck again by Nesta and Michael and Yohan and Usain.
Amidst the medals was something even greater. On 6 August, Jamaica celebrated its 50th Independence Day, commemorating freedom from British colonial occupation. Around the world, Jamaican flags flew up their masts and waved more fiercely than any fan at Usain Bolt during his victory lap… Fifty years. That’s all it took for one island to get up, stand up, and bruk out.
We can hardly envision what the next year will bring, let alone the next four or fifty. Currently, sprinters-turned-medalists are looking to professional football – the American sort and everyone else’s sort – while others have their eyes set on Brazil.
What will Jamaica do next? What will be Bolt’s next feat? No one knows. On 11 August, when the clock struck 20:55:36.84, the Jamaican men’s relay team commenced its victory lap. Not even a week ago. So for now, let’s just sit back and enjoy the moment because the moment is good.
No, in many ways, Jamaica doesn’t make sense. But that’s the best part. The nation’s talent and athleticism isn’t meant to be understood. Only admired.
So let’s do just that.