Veronica Campbell Brown: Statue is 'a blessing, a gesture I truly appreciate'

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Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB), one of the all-time greats of track and field, was honoured by her home country of Jamaica on Sunday when they mounted a statue of her likeness at Independence Park in Kingston.

In a career that has spanned more than two decades since she first represented Jamaica as a junior athlete, VCB has won 19 senior global medals including three Olympic gold medals and three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships.

She has also won more than 50 medals while representing her country during that time. She won her first Olympic title in the 200m in Athens in 2004 and then defended the title in Beijing in 2008.

During the ceremony attended by many dignitaries including Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange, VCB’s statue, mounted next to that of her mentor and idol, Merlene Ottey, was unveiled to rapturous applause.

It was the third of four statues commissioned by the government to pay tribute to some of the country’s greatest athletes.

Statues of eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and now four-time World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, have been mounted over the last three years. With VCB’s statue now up, only that of former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell is left to join them.

Campbell-Brown, who was accompanied by her husband Omar Brown, the 2006 Commonwealth Games 200-metre champion, and with her daughter Avianna in her arms, unveiled the latest work of sculptor Basil Watson.

“To be remembered and commemorated for my contribution to Jamaica’s rich history in this unique way is an absolute blessing and a gesture that I greatly appreciate,” said Campbell-Brown as she addressed the audience gathered before her.

A picture of humility on her face at the grand occasion, VCB showered praise on the woman whose statue stands beside hers.

“Merlene is such an awesome person. I really admire her,” she said.

“I’m just grateful to be among Jamaica’s rich history and persons like her have set the pace for all of us who came after her. So I’m grateful to be here among these great athletes.”

Prime Minister Holness, during his address, said Jamaica must recognise in its athletes’ victories, the triumph of the nation.

“We revel in the fact that these stories of outstanding achievements are for the rest of us the inspiration we need as we play our part in advancing the prosperity of our people,” he said.

“Moments like these form part of the platform for us to engage with each other and commit to the transformation of our country. It is proof that there is nothing we cannot overcome once we set our minds to it and work assiduously in unison.”

Meanwhile, Minister Grange said moments like these continue to demonstrate Jamaica’s incredible heritage in sports.

“Sport is one of the areas in which our country has demonstrated its global prowess and gained competitive advantage,” she said. “It is about the persistence of men and women who were undaunted by the dazzling glare of international competition. It was about men and women for whom the representation of country and family, and the dream of global recognition are the motivating factors for the unleashing of energy that propels them to glory.” (Sports Max)

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