Jamaican sprint star, Usain Bolt
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Legendary Jamaican Track and Field Coach, Bertland Cameron, has dismissed the long held notion that only American coaches are capable of returning the glory days of Nigerian athletics.
Speaking at the Delta State Sports Summit in Asaba Tuesday, Cameron insisted that living and schooling in America as a means of realising Olympic dream was a mirage, stressing that no American coach can make that happen for Nigerians.
“American coaches don’t coach you to be become Olympic champion. Instead, they use you to their benefits and make you burn out before major events,” he said at the Grand Hotel venue, which was jam packed with all the stakeholders in sports.
“No Jamaican athlete goes to the US for scholarship or to develop his or her talents. That is why Olympic Champion, Usain Bolt, did not go America. We’re competitive-driven and are based at home,” he further stated. He said that Jamaica relies more on former national stars who have become models to ginger youngsters who want to be like them and turn them into speedsters.
The Jamaican coach said that they start grooming athletes from the ages of 8 to 12years. “Coaches play integral part in our athletics. Jamaica has 300 qualified coaches and I think that you have former athletes who can do it. You should not look outside to turn things around. The talent is here. Mary Onyali is like Marlene Ottey. Innocent Egbunike is hot and there was a time I was praying he should not come to events for me to shine. I remember the Ezinwa brothers. They were never scared. I wonder why a big country like Nigeria is not doing well. Nigeria always start strong and finish so weak. You must ask questions. Why is it like that? Is it that you stopped nurturing athletes? What about sponsorship? It is not that we (Jamaica) are better naturally. It is because we have learnt from our mistakes we made in the past and have put the plans and programmes in place to harness and nurture our talent.
“We rotate our coaches as no one coach stays permanent on one job. There is continuity in our sports. And we never forget our heroes. Those who started the glory like Donald Quarry, Marlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert, myself, Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell. Powell is hero and staying back in Jamaica living well, driving good car and has a good house motivate the younger ones. Everyone wants to be like him. That is our secret. In the last Olympics, we never went abroad except for Veronica Campbell who lived abroad with the husband.
“Her husband is a Jamaican too and a coach. We are patriotic and have the mentality and passion to win. Nigeria should not be looking up to Jamaica. We should be the ones looking up to Nigeria. Our lineage is from Nigeria,” he said.