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Offline Socapro

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Misunderstanding Olympics
« on: August 14, 2012, 02:16:52 AM »
http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2012-08-14/misunderstanding-olympics

Bit Depth
Misunderstanding Olympics
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Mark Lyndersay


Sports have never been my thing. But the boss lady has a big thing for tennis and the Olympics, so I’ve been slowly understanding of the motivations, challenges and the meaning of success for athletes at the top of their form. It’s been surprising, then, to hear the way people respond to the performance of our athletes in the 2012 Olympiad. It’s as if all the talk of “medal hauls” and “precious metal” has somehow eroded what it means to not just compete in the Olympics, but to participate in the finals and semifinals of these intense athletic competitions. In that misunderstanding, it seems that there’s something we still need to understand about the words “work” and “success.” The size of our country has a lot to do with such considerations. T&T has just 1.5 million people, less than the populations of most cities and even some towns in the developed world. For nations competing in the Olympics, part of the process is a game of numbers. If a country can sift through its human capital using orderly methods of evaluating athletic potential then it can muster larger numbers of competitive individuals for its teams.
 
Beyond sheer numbers, the efficiency of the process of identifying talent plays a significant role in building the cohort of athletes necessary for a truly successful Olympic presence. That’s one of the reasons why the medal leaders by a significant margin in this year’s competitions are America and China and why the now fragmented Russia is so much less of a threat. Visit medalspercapita.com to see it summed up nicely. Our best contenders use the training systems of the American collegiate system and they let us, hoping that our best will choose to play for the bigger team. Our biggest asset in the Olympics, then, is patriotism. The working life of an Olympic athlete is short. Most qualify for just one Olympiad, far fewer get to two and it’s rare to find an athlete qualifying, far less competing at the top of their game for three gatherings of the world’s athletic elite. Such is the focus on success as medals at this level that two of our finest athletes, Richard Thompson and George Bovell, felt moved to apologise, yes, to tell T&T that they were sorry, after challenging the world, beating dozens of exemplary athletes to get to the final lineup and robustly representing this country. What should we learn from this?

To truly succeed in global competition, you need to marshal the human capital of a nation and prepare systems and training to identify specific talent and aptitude and press it to beneficial use. The thing is, we already know this. This is how we’ve found oil and gas here for more than a hundred years. We’ve just never applied the principles to refining people. Our most amazing successes have been those of individuals, the sui generis marvels like Vidia Naipaul, Hasely Crawford, Brian Lara, Winnifred Atwell and so many more. T&T’s Olympians in 2012 taught us another lesson: that many of us rising into the global top ten of our craft can be as motivating as the brilliant uniqueness of singular shooting stars. Suppose we all woke up tomorrow and decided to work to make it into the finals of the thing that we do? What if our education system abandoned the nurturing of mediocrity and coached, improved and challenged students to aspire to such a goal. Being in the top ten. How much more attainable being number one must seem once you get there.
De higher a monkey climbs is de less his ass is on de line, if he works for FIFA that is! ;-)

Offline Socapro

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Sweet and sour Olympics
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 11:52:33 PM »
http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Sweet_and_sour_Olympics-166066786.html

Sweet and sour Olympics
By Clarence Rambharat
Story Created: Aug 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM ECT


The sweetness of Olympic Gold! And one individual and two sets of Olympic relay bronze medals to go with it. Just when this country needed a lift, a few young nationals, and more behind the scenes, worked to deliver. What we do with these achievements, could take us further along. But, keep in mind that 64 years since Rodney Wilkes brought home our first Olympic medal, Wilkes' achievements have not been immortalised, evidence of our tendency to sour even the best circumstances.
 
Across every country, these Olympic achievements emphasise the role of family, school and community in success of every kind, and demonstrate that we have to repurpose the concept of local government and governance, to bring more resources to communities. It also emphasises the need to look closer at our talent pools; system of education and human development, especially physical education; coaches in schools; physical development and activity, and the appropriate balance between books and balls.
 
The irony is that the current and previous two prime ministers have fought significant health issues, beyond what would ordinarily happen at their respective ages. That experience should ordinarily prompt the championing of wellness, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and the guarantee of the universally recognised fundament right to physical activity. It has not happened that way.
 
Absent consistent attention to healthy lifestyles and wellness, and facing the Goliath-sized risks which have entered the frame, the health sector commands eight per cent of the national budget, much of it to put behind facilities, staff and medication. After those items, little remains for preventative medicine, primary health care, and health awareness and promotion. In fairness, a lot has been done for secondary and tertiary care, and the country is better placed than 15 years ago. But, we should not be creating the incessant demand for these critical care services in the first place, in two islands surrounded by the basics for great health and longevity.
 
Of course, the immediate focus of current Olympic success should be our medallists. But we must follow the celebration with a consideration of many UNESCO reports on sports and physical education, which we have consistently ignored. For example, we have to consider why the Government has failed to position itself as the lead funder of the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance for Sport and Physical Education (TTASPE), and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working sincerely but ever at the risk of poverty, to develop trainers, training and resources. And we have to understand that there is much potential, but plenty work.
 
Within the celebratory mood, the country must demand attention to the physical health and wellness of our seniors, the next generation of seniors, and the little ones. We need safe and inexpensive opportunities for healthy recreation, and interface with our natural environment. And we must make our cities and communities healthy physical environments.
 
Without shame, the next few phases of Olympic celebration will be dominated by the politicians, jockeying for ownership of the success. None will mention the closure of the gym once used by Keshorn Walcott at the Toco Composite School and his trek in relative obscurity to San Juan and elsewhere for his labour towards gold. Instead a blanket of political triumph will be cast upon Walcott, Gordon and all the others, while decades of neglect and sourness will be forgotten.
 
Committing to a healthier nation will not come easily, but is necessary. Too much of our social and recreational activity requires alcohol, smoking and incessant noise. Too much of our downtime revolves around bottles and boom-boxes. And, it is clear that our Caribbean identity and joie de vivre is too closely characterised by looseness and slackness. A refocus, of Olympic dimensions, is required.
 
What we should have learned since "Gally'' Cummings' 1973 national football team and the Soca Warriors is that above other possibilities, nothing unites a country like sport and nothing places our name on lips around the world like sporting success. Jamaica's participation in the 1996 World Cup made its national colours a highly recognised brand across Europe and deepened the work Bob Marley started decades before. Even with hundreds of murders and the same social struggles as the rest of the region, Jamaica is a strong brand, growing stronger with each Olympics.
 
Throughout this Olympics, the North American media have fondled the question of what makes Jamaica so superior in the sprints. China, the masters of copying and improving, watches every second of achievement, then equals, and then exceeds that achievement. What will we do?
 
This question will not be resolved through changing governments. The lack of a comprehensive approach which links physical activity, health, wellness, education and achievement, is a problem across all our governments. Like every other element of potential excellence, our talent is trapped within the smallness of minds that adds an additional layer of difficulty to the ones smallness of size creates. We do not have droves of talent from which to pick layers of the best; and still, we turn our little pools of talent in quagmires, trammelled in a usual manner by crookedness, pettiness and nonsense.
 
So, with what then can we garland our gold and bronze medallists and their lifelong supporters? Perhaps genuine respect and regard for their achievements, and promises we can keep. And perhaps, a promise that sport and every other area of potential high performance will be insulated from politics, pettiness and corruption, by putting those matters in the hands of independent authorities with the leadership, financial endowments and means to plan into the long-term.
 
Our country is filled with unharnessed talent and pools of potential. Just as well, it is filled with slackness and a quality of decision-making which is as good as the worsening pool of politicians who make them. Can we do like Keshorn Walcott and move beyond our personal bests when it really matters?
 
• Clarence Rambharat is an attorney and a university lecturer
De higher a monkey climbs is de less his ass is on de line, if he works for FIFA that is! ;-)

 

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