National Broadcast by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding - Athletes performance in Beijing

Release Date: 
Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 12:45

Jamaica.. What a mighty people we are! Marcus Garvey said "Up you mighty race! You can accomplish what you will". And what accomplishments we have celebrated over this past week!

In my message to our athletes in Beijing that was beamed live as they gathered to celebrate Independence, I told them that they carried on their shoulders, in their legs and in every muscle of their bodies the hopes of all the Jamaican people. I told them that they represented the dream of thousands of boys and girls in our cities and towns and rural villages who cherished that dream but might be uncertain about their future; that theirs was the mission to show them that no matter who you are or where you are from, no matter how hard life may be, you have the capacity to be the best in the world, to command the respect of the world......because you are JAMAICAN.

Our athletes went to Beijing with our hopes and expectations. We could not have asked for more. 11 medals: 6 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze, 3 world records, 1 Olympic record - who could ask for anything more?

We dominated the sprints and have been hailed as the sprint factory of the world. Usain Bolt's double triumph in the 100M and 200M was not only a rare accomplishment but, by winning both in world record times, something that no one has done before, he has etched his name and Jamaica's name in the annals of Olympic sports.

We emerged as the stars of the Olympics - this little country of ours of less than 3 million people, faced with more than our fair share of challenges. But we demonstrated that when we make up our minds, when we set our eyes firmly on a dream and work hard, there is no challenge too great, no ocean too deep, no mountain too high. No, they can't hold us down, for this is JAMAICA.

All Jamaica basks in the joy that our athletes have brought us. We thank them from the bottom of our heart and we congratulate them most heartily. And in doing so, we are also grateful to those who helped them, mentored them and prepared them for this moment of glory: their coaches, medical team, physiotherapists, masseurs, sports psychologists. We thank their families for the love and support they gave them. We thank our sports administrators for the superb organization that prepared them for Beijing and looked after them in Beijing.

The Games are over but the success we have achieved is not over. The benefits we can derive have only just begun. Our first order of business is to bring our athletes back home so that we can honour them and shower them with our love. Several of them will be participating in follow-up track meets in various parts of the world. As soon as these are over, we will be bringing them home to a grateful nation, a nation whose spirits have been made to soar and a nation which has again been reminded of its capacity for greatness.

I have established a planning committee which includes representatives of the Jamaica Olympics Association, the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, the private sector, the Government and the Opposition, to work out the arrangements to welcome them home and to give the Jamaican people the opportunity to celebrate with them in true Jamaican style. The public will be informed as soon as these arrangements are finalized because the Jamaican people must have the opportunity to celebrate with our athletes. These are our champions. They belong to us.

And we want to celebrate with all of them - those who won medals as well as those who did not because they are all part of the team and they have all contributed to our success.

We think of Asafa, in particular, and the disappointment we know he feels about the 100m finals...but we watched as he anchored the 4 x 100M relay in world record brilliance. We are confident that more success still awaits him.

I have asked the committee to also make recommendations as to the most appropriate way for us to honour and reward them. There will be more Olympics to come and more medals for us to win but our performance in these Olympics has been so phenomenal, so extraordinary that we want to memorialize those achievements for generations to come.

We want to go even further. We must go further. Our success in these Olympics not only provides an opportunity but imposes on us a duty to expand and strengthen the institutional arrangements to support the continued development of athletics, to identify young talent and help them to develop to Olympic greatness. There are many more youngsters out there who can be as good as Usain, Asafa, Shelly-Ann, Melanie and Veronica and others. They only need to be discovered and assisted to become the Olympic champions of tomorrow. We are not going to let this moment, this opportunity pass.

There is still more benefit that we can derive from our Olympics success. Our tourism promotion must take account of the fact that Jamaica is again in the world's spotlight and now, more than ever, we can proclaim that "Once you go, you know". Our Brand Jamaica campaign has been given a priceless springboard because our athletes have name-branded Jamaica. We must take full advantage of this. We must seize the moment!

We must seize the moment, too, for ourselves here in Jamaica. Our athletes do not deserve to be embarrassed in their moment of glory by the fact that we have one of the highest murder rates in the world, that some of us continue to inflict violence on the rest of us. Shelly-Ann Frazer's mother, Maxine Simpson, said it so well. Melanie Walker made such a passionate appeal after she won the gold medal in the 400M hurdles.

You gunman, you rapist, you badman - you are spoiling the show; you are colting the game. Get with the programme. We are the best in the world! Stop trying to make us look like we are the baddest in the world!

Let us use this moment, this unprecedented display of world-class excellence, this moment of triumph and glory to unite as a people, to set new standards for ourselves and our community in how we treat each other. Let us be one Jamaica. ONE LOVE! ONE HEART! Bob Marley was right. If we get together, we'll be alright.

I thank God for blessing our athletes. May God bless you and may God bless all Jamaica.