Grenada is on a streak — albeit a mini streak — in Olympic competition. After 28 years of winning no medals whatsoever at the Summer Games, we now have captured two in back-to-back Olympics; both having been won by local superstar Kirani James.
The recent medal, for second place in the men’s 400-meter race, was not the gold Kirani won in 2012 at the London Games. But his silver is no less valuable and precious than the gold of four years ago.
Often we do not stop to consider what is required to compete at the highest level of international sports — whether it’s the Olympics, the FIFA Football World Cup, the IAAF Track & Field World Champions, or an ICC cricket tournament. These competitions bring together the most elite athletes on the planet; and success demands not just superior talent and skill, but also steely nerves and quick wittiness. And any kind of victory is an exceptional achievement; to place in a heat or to make it to the final round of any competition is nothing to sneeze at.
It therefore is fitting that our government has announced plans to assemble in Grenada the entire 2016 Olympic team: Kirani, Bralon Taplin, Kurt Felix, Lindon Victor, Kanika Beckles, Oreoluwa Cherebin and Corey Ollivierre. It will be opportunity for the nation to salute the team for their comportment on and off the tracks, and in and out the swimming pool, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
And, no award is too great for Kirani James. He’s our first Olympic medalist; the first to win gold, the first to win silver. He has set the bar that other Grenadians now must meet and/or surpass. Hence, Caribupdate Weekly completely endorses the idea of soon renaming the athletic stadium at Queen’s Park as the Kirani James Stadium.
But, as with almost everything in Grenada, none of this — the honouring of the athletes and the renaming of the stadium — is without its naysayers and the “cyber cowards” who hide behind social media to spew ignorant, hate-filled and narrow-mined parochial comments. For those whose concern — real or feigned — is about how future stars will be honoured, we believed there are no shortages of places across Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that could be renamed; not just for future stars but also for those who excelled in the past and may have retired or passed on. We have numerous playing fields and bridges, roads and villages. And, nothing is stopping us from renaming our parishes and towns; for example, changing Gouyave to Jamesville.
Caribupdate Weekly also concurs with our columnist, the former Culture Minister Arley Salimbi Gill, who has made a plea to avoid embroiling Kirani in the endless cycle of political imbroglio. “Kirani is well-loved by every Grenadian regardless of class, race, or political affiliation,” Gills writes. “We must pay him the ultimate respect by keeping his name above party political interest or town and country squabble. He is our gift to the world. Let us elevate his name. Look at the humility and class he displays, congratulating and showing love to all his competitors, including the one who defeated him. Let us return the respect he shows to others.”
During the two weeks of the Olympic Games, we all were witnesses to some very exciting and riveting events. There were many inspirational stories and the victors included athletes from large and rich nations like the United States; as well as from small poor countries like Grenada. On the negative side, there was cheating in the boxing competition; and a group of American swimmers is being investigated on the belief that they made false claims of being robbed by Brazilian gunmen.
And as much as we may have enjoyed the games, Caribupdate Weekly is left wondering whether it’s really worth it for any country to divert billions of dollars from the daily pressing needs of its people, for things such as healthcare, housing and transportation, and investing it in hosting an international sporting event that lasts for two weeks to a month.
This point about money and spending reminds us about some of the issues surrounding this year’s Spicemas that recently ended here. Grenadians, repeatedly, have been demanding that carnival should be “run like a business”. Ask any businessman or woman and they would tell you that their priorities include cutting costs and making a profit. Kirk Seetahal set out to do just that after he was hired as CEO of the Spicemas Corporation (SMC), which is responsible for overseeing, managing and implementing all carnival-related events. Hence, for example, his moving Carnival City to the Carenage, and the decision to allow the private promoter’s “Xtreme White” concert at the National Stadium on panorama night.
But many, including some who were calling for carnival to be “run like a business”, have been swift and harsh in their condemnation of Seetahal; instead of being praised, he’s now being pilloried.
Grenadians ought to make up their mind; either they’re serious about carnival being “run like a business”, or we must conclude they like talking for talking sake and are just very in love with hearing their voices on radio and TV.
Indeed, we may want carnival to be “run like a business”; but, we also must be cognizant of the fact that carnival is not a business like any other business. Beware that what we saw at carnival this year is just a glimpse into what running carnival “like a business” looks like.
Just wait until the SMC decides to no longer subsidize the Soca Monarch show, for example. No one should complain, in running carnival “like a business”, that the SMC ups the price of a Soca Monarch ticket from $60 to the real market value of $300 or $400. That will be running carnival “like a business”.