Joy and disappointment for Jamaican athletes in Beijing


By: Devon Anderson and Dwight Fraser

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Jamaica won the 4 by 100 relay in world record time of 37.10 seconds today at the Beijing Olympics, sending a clear message that the land of wood and water is not to be underestimated.

The fast and furious team broke the world mark of 37.40 set in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics by the US team that was equalled by another US squad at the world championships in Stuttgart in 1993.

Nesta Carter was the first man with the baton that he passed to Michael Frater; then it was Frater to the indomitable Usain Bolt who went on to hand the baton to Asafa Powell who breezed on to the finish line in record breaking time.

Bringing home another gold medal for Jamaica, the relay team conquered all odds. Top sprinter Asafa Powell got the opportunity to finally land himself a gold medal for the first time on an international platform. The gold had been eluding Powell and this was his chance to redeem himself.

Fraser told reporters after the race that when he handed the baton to Bolt, he knew a world record was in the making. An ecstatic Bolt declared, “You can’t get any better than this…give thanks to the world.”

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This golden run sent Jamaicans at home and abroad into another frenzy, which has become a common mode during these Olympic days. Half Way Tree Square in Jamaica has now been dubbed ‘Beijing’, with TVJ mounting an additional four monitors to make five; giving the public a chance to view the games. The square went into another uproar today, with joyous pandemonium breaking out all over after the new world record was set by the men’s relay team.

One onlooker said as she headed to Kingston from St. Mary, she had to ask the bus driver if, the bus will stop in Beijing/Half Way Tree; and upon arriving at the square the driver yelled out, “Welcome to Beijing!”

Another, who couldn’t join the crowd today said, “Mi sorry sey mi can’t mek it to Beijing/Half Way Tree, but mi happy fi de athletes dem in Beijing, China.”

Trinidad and Tobago came in second, with sprinters Keson Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callander and Richard Thompson finishing in 38.06 seconds. The Japanese team was third in 38.15.

Earlier today Jamaica’s 4 by 100 women’s team did not finish their race as there was a baton change foul up between Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart. As a result the team – notable favorites - did not realize their goal of winning again for Jamaica. It was indeed a huge disappointment for everyone including Shelly-Ann Fraser and Veronica Campbell-Brown, the other relay team members. Russia took that race in 42.31 seconds.

Jamaica now ranks second on the medals table with 10 medals: 6 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze. Russia ranks first and the US third.