Doors close, doors open: loving Alia Atkinson, and O’Dayne Richards.

I am almost in tears, after watching Jamaican Alia Atkinson coming in 3rd in the 100 meters breaststroke. She had the race. She has the time. But, in finals, you have to have the event under control. She swam as she always does, fast first 50, but near record pace. She looked great till 20 meters from home, then “felt the elephants on her back”, as the British commentator said. I know the feeling as limbs tighten with lactic acid buildup. But, no second guessing. How proud to be there looking at a potential champion in one of our less-favoured events.

The medals were presented by our own IOC representative, Mike Fennel. A nice twist. The Scottish crowd gave a rousing cheer. Go, Alia! Stay strong. The swimming family is loving what you do for the event.

But, as that door closed, open came the door with O’Dayne Richards winning the shot putt with a games record of 21.61 meters.20140728-144629-53189148.jpg Promise comes true.

Jamaica to the world. More action comes on the track later today, as our sprinters are all looking at finals this evening. Which doors will open?

Going all unconventional: not just a nation of sprinters, cricketers and male footballers

The past few weeks has seen something unique: a Jamaican swimmer, Alia Atkinson,Alia-Atkinson2_w304_w304 has been tearing up international waters, winning and placing high in the touring series of swim meets, called the World Cup. World Cup legs this year have already taken place in Eindhoven, Berlin, Moscow, Dubai, Doha and now Singapore.The series will end with two legs in Tokyo, Japan (November 9-10) and Beijing, China (November 13-14). Having just brought my child back from her swimming practice, I wondered if Jamaican children are beginning to focus on what Alia is doing and in some little way starting to turn their eyes toward less popular sports in which we should be able to excel, but tend to fall short. Here’s to hoping.

At this moment, Jamaica’s under-17 women’s team is playing a semi-final in the CONCACAF Championships. The winner will advance to the 2014 World Cup in Costa Rica. The matches are being played in Jamaica, at Montego Bay Sports Complex’ Catherine Hall Stadium. This is historic: the team has done better than ever before. Close behind them will be their under 20 compatriots. Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 6.18.08 PMThe 2014 CONCACAF Women’s  under 20 Championship is scheduled to kick off on January 9, 2014 in the Cayman Islands. The men’s team may get the public attention, but success is a very good basis on which to build, so I hope that the young women will be more than an afterthought.

More openings are coming along for girls to play soccer in Jamaica. For my part, I just had the pleasure of being nominated to coach elementary girls at my daughter’s school. I’ve been there before, in the US, and I have the coaching qualifications 🙂

Many doors could be open for talented youths in areas that have been less in the public eye, and as Americans have found, educational opportunities may come with the sports, too, in the form of scholarships. The fact that women are coming to the fore is not so surprising, but it’s not my view that we have special advantages there, but we do have good female athletes and a long tradition of having women in sports, at least through high school, and after that for track and field. Let’s see how this moves. Too early to talk of groundswell, but make noise.