At the Penn Relays, It’s A Jamaican Thing

April 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

College Women's relay race at the Penn Relays

College Women’s relay race at the Penn Relays

After 51 years of consistent excellence at the Penn Relays, the largest relay competition in the world, it’s really no surprise that Jamaican teams are perennial winners. At the 121st running of the relays this past week at the University of Pennsylvania, teams from Jamaica’s high schools and colleges were winners in the majority of the sprint categories, sometimes taking the top 2, 3, or 4 spots. And even though Team USA got the better of the Jamaicans at most of the USA vs the World Relays, with Justin Gatlin and co. winning big in the 4×100, it was evident that they don’t call Jamaica “the sprint factory” for nothing. If it wasn’t a U Tech team winning the college 4×100 it was Calabar at the front for the high schools. The girls schools and colleges dominated too, with Edwin Allen and the U Tech women sprinting for top honors. So what is it, is sprinting just a Jamaican thing now? What is behind the prolific output of the “sprint factory?” According to some athletes and coaches we spoke to, it comes down to hard work, determination, intense competitiveness, and strong national support.

Moral support: a sea of yellow, green and black in the stands

Moral support: a sea of yellow, green and black in the stands

And boy, do they get that support. Even if you didn’t hear the roaring crowd each time a Jamaican team or hurdler took the field, you would still have to wade through a sea of yellow, black and green-clad male and female fans each time you tried to move. The family members, friends, and others that come to cheer on Team Jamaica are key to the moral support that can be very helpful to an athlete’s success. But most important of all is the support they get from from an organization called Team Jamaica Bickle. For 21 years, Team Jamaica Bickle has provided economic and logistical support for not just Jamaican athletes, but also

Fan showing her colors

Fan showing her colors

relay runners from other islands and countries in the Caribbean. With the support of food establishments like Caribbean Food Delights, they have been consistent in raising funds for things like accommodation and travel for the athletes, who once had to sleep on gymnasium floors before their all important races. For our upcoming series, Afrofusion TV spent the last day of the Penn relays checking out the scene, and talking with coaches, athletes and fans. You’ll be able to watch a quick preview of what we found in our next post, along with more photos from the relays. Thanks to Team Jamaica Bickle and Caribbean Food Delights, and of course the great Caribnation TV  crew for providing some interviews for us. Bless…

 

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