There is life after Usain Bolt, assures Vilma Charlton

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Olympian Vilma Charlton says she is confident that Jamaica’s track and field will continue to spark the global track in the wake of the inimitable Usain Bolt.
The retirement of the Jamaican legend from track and field has had many worried about the future of Jamaica’s dominance in the sport, but Charlton sought to allay fears with the promise of many more stars to come.
“Since 2002 we have been endowed with many, many stars, male and female; not one or two, but many. Last year Usain Bolt retired while some females had a break in their career for one reason or another.
“However, we will not become undaunted, we will not declare a drought of stars as, with development programmes such as ours, we will continue to unearth new talents,” she said in her address at the launch of the 14th staging of the Douglas Forrest Invitational Track and Field Meet at the Alhambra Inn on Friday.
“We will not see another phenomenal athlete like Usain Bolt for a very long time, but we will produce stars who will shine and rise to the top,” Charlton added.
Charlton, who was speaking on behalf of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in her post as second vice-president, commended the organisers of the Douglas Forrest Invitational for “continuing the pathway of developing young Jamaican athletes.”
The event, which is one of the earliest meets hosted on a synthetic track each season, will be held at the GC Foster College next Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. with the 400m hurdles and is slated to end at 6 p.m. with the 4x400m Open.
Committee chairman and meet founder Brian Smith says that the JAAA needs to return to the basics in order to ensure that the best athletes produced can go on to represent the country at the highest level.
“Track and field never started with Bolt and will not end with Bolt. What we need to do is to work out how we are going to sustain it… We have done it in the past, we did it in 1998 and we have done it in 2002.
“In 1998, the JAAA’s, led by Adrian Wallace, put a camp in place and we got two gold medals (at the World Junior Championships) and a silver at a championship. We were not expected to get any medals in. This was all because of the camp where we had the athletes in training for seven weeks. In 2002, we did the same thing and that is where Bolt emerged. If we did not do that in 2002, I am quite certain there would be no Bolt today,” She suggested. (jamaicaobserver.com)

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