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Brazilian with a Jamaican heart

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

A loud ‘badword’ pierced the silence in the media bus as I walked in. One of Jamaica’s most colourful terms, but no one gave a second look; no one except me, of course, and the person who uttered the words.

The ‘culprit’, my Brazilian journalist friend, who sometimes seems to forget that he is not Jamaican; truth is he is more Jamaican than many that I have met.

He always greets me with that particular badword, like a kid showing off a new word they learned at school, it’s his way of staying close to his Jamaican experiences, having been to the island on a couple of occasions.

This time, he tells me about a trip to Trench Town for a documentary, his experience at ‘Champs’ last year and an unforgettable night he and his cameraman had at a street dance in Kingston.

Honestly, everybody loves Jamaica, particularly when the Olympics roll around, but this yute (Don’t ask me to mention his name because I can never remember it), is close to the island’s biggest fan.

From our athletics to our music to our badwords, the Brazilian is Jamaican by heart.

“Take our footballers and give us your sprinters and your girls.”

I told him it’s a tempting offer but his request for our Jamaican girls was the deal-breaker.

“You gotta come to Rio, Jamaica reminds me of my city. The people, are lively, you know?”

That wasn’t the only thing he used to advertise the Brazilian city, but perhaps this is not the forum to discuss such things.

Anyway, the Olympic Games is grinding to an end and after today’s action on the track and at the Excel London Exhibition Centre, Jamaica would have said goodbye to London 2012.

10 medals so far in the bag, with a chance to close at 13, certainly, there is much to celebrate and even more to be proud of.

I have been comparing London to Daegu, well most of us who were in South Korea last year have, and there are some things that we all really miss about the Asian country.

Things like free Internet!

The South Koreas, got it right – free Internet even on the roadside; everywhere you turn, there was a signal.

It was also amusing how much ridicule we got for using BlackBerry phones there.

Small screens mean the South Korean wouldn’t be able to stream their movies, etc. while waiting on their bus.

Just can’t go wrong with technology in Asia I guess, but England has better beer though!

Cheers.

The bronze was golden

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I would have really done well with two dutch pot covers in the mixed zone last night.

Sure I would have created a real racket, and it’s most likely that a few of my colleagues would have been a bit peeved, but that was the celebration that last night’s 200m medal sweep deserved, an authentic Jamaican one.

We couldn’t find any zinc fence to beat down or any clappers to light, so we jumped around and displayed our elation on a few tables in the media area, as colleagues came over and shook our hands and offered congratulations.

Congrats to all three gentlemen for their achievements but allow me to express particular commendation to Warren Weir, who, though unknown to most prior to now, never lost faith and drive, pushing home for a deserved bronze medal.

Bolt is the legend he has long desired to be (regardless of what Mr Rogge thinks) and Blake continues to make his first Olympic Games a memorable one.

But those two have been there and done it before. Weir on the other hand, only took up this 200m thing a year ago after an injury prevented him from training and competing in the 110m hurdles.

For him to do what he did inside the London Olympics Stadium last night not only further underlines the abilities of our local coaches (Like Bolt and Blake, Weir is coached by Glen Mills at Racers Track Club) and highlights the strength of our JAAA/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships.

I caught up with myself bucking on the bus the other night and as a colleague of mine said, after so many hours and days travelling back and forth and running around, covering the Olympics itself could have been an Olympic sport.

Wanted: Two Dutchie Covers

Friday, August 10th, 2012

LONDON, England:

I would have really done well with two dutchie covers in the mixed zone last night enuh.

Sure I would have created a real racket and it’s most likely that a few of my colleagues would have been a bit peeved, but that was the celebration that last night’s 200m medal sweep deserved – an authentic Jamaican one.

We couldn’t find any zinc fence to beat down or any clappers to light, so we jumped around and displayed our elation on a few tables in the media area, as colleagues came over and shook our hands and offered congratulations.

Congrats to all three gentlemen for their achievements but allow me to express particular commendation to Warren Weir, who, though unknown to most prior to now, never lost faith and drive, pushing home for a deserved bronze medal.

Bolt is the legend he has long desired to be (regardless of what Mr Rogge thinks) and Blake continues to make his first Olympic Games a memorable one.

But those two have been there and done it before. Weir on the other hand, only took up this 200m thing a year ago after an injury prevented him from training and competing in the 110m hurdles.

For him to do what he did inside the London Olympics Stadium last night, not only further underlines the abilities of our local coaches (like Bolt and Blake, Weir is coached by Glen Mills at Racers Track) and highlights the strength of our JAAA/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships.

I caught up with myself bucking on the bus the other night and as a colleague of mine said, after so many hours and days, travelling back and forth and running around, covering the Olympics itself could have been an Olympic Sport.

London Log: Parchment, St Thomas People ‘To Di Worl’

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

By Andre Lowe

This log is dedicated to those who have to drive through crater-deep potholes on their way from and to St Thomas on a daily basis.

To those who can barely get signal on their cellphones in this day and age.

To those who have to survive despite living in the only parish without a KFC.

To the many whose sand and gravel are being transported out of the parish without a cent being returned.

To those who endure the ridicule of people who brand their home parish as ‘Obeah Capital’.

Up, you mighty people: St Thomas to the world; ‘country’ to the world!

It was pure excitement in the Mixed Zone inside the London Olympics Stadium last night as Hansle Parchment crossed the line in third place in the men’s 110m hurdles final, becoming the first Jamaican male sprint hurdler to medal at the Olympic Games.

After Juliet Cuthbert’s 1992 double silver medal exploits at the Barcelona Olympics, St Thomas once again has an Olympic medallist!

Much to celebrate

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m also a St Thomas man and also share the same alma mater with Cuthbert and Parchment – Morant Bay High.

Before any KC man get any ideas, Parchment’s few months on North Street do not count! LOL.

‘Brap, brap, brap,’… Jamaicans jumping up and down in the media zone. It was the sweetest bronze medal ever.

We certainly didn’t see it coming into the Games, but started feeling he could do it after his semi-final run.

Congrats, Hansle, who ‘big up’ his ‘Cashew Bush’ district at the first opportunity.

Honestly, though, I couldn’t tell you where to find that place in St Thomas, but big up unnu self same way!

Big congrats to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on her 200m silver; quickly running out of space in that medal cabinet.

Campbell-Brown remains a champion, coming out and ‘repping’ her country with pride and determination, as always.

“Yow, showa man!”

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

What the hell?

He was looking in my general direction but surely could not be speaking to me.

“Yardie! Yuh nuh hear mi a shout yuh, the man a athlete to or wah?”

Now, I can certainly understand why I’d be mistaken for an athlete; they don’t call us the ‘fittest team’ for nothing, but it didn’t register why I was being called a ‘showa man’.

“Oh di man a reporter. Weh you work, JBC?”

His sharp Jamaican accent didn’t suggest it, but he must have left Jamaica a long time ago to be talking about JBC.

Still, why did he call me a ‘showa man’?

Turns out I was wearing a green armband, which was given to journalists at the JOA-PUMA press conference the other day.

It was solid green, but before we get crazy and start clinging to tired conspiracies, it was never meant to depict the Jamaican flag … so mi nuh wah hear say the JOA took the black and gold out of the flag.

COLOURFUL CONVERSATION

It led to a rather colourful conversation; rather colourful language at times, with the man who only identified himself as ‘Danny’.

Danny was one of several Jamaicans that I’ve met over the past two days, and we are not hard people to pick out of a crowd, enuh. Brightest coloured hair, sharp accent, animated discourse – you know, the usual stuff.

I met a security guard at one of the checkpoints at the entrance of the Main Press Centre.

Larry, who hails from Waterhouse, still wore the gold tooth he said he got in the ’80s.

“Dem things used to run road, young blood. You ain’t saying nothing without a little sparkle in your mouth ‘ain’t it’ (or however that is spelt)?”

“Yow, Larry, stop dem bredda deh from the other newspaper. Don’t mek dem come through,” we all laughed.

Jamaicans seem to be creeping out of the crevices more by the minute, but with track-and-field action starting and some would even say, with the Olympic Games really starting now, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Before I go I must say a big thank you to all the folks, who tweeted and emailed various suggestions and directions to good barber shops here.

I appreciate it, because I stepped inside one today and had to run out like a bat from hell (LOL! Got that one from my ‘second’ mother, Morine Denton). The place seemed in more ways than one to be more of a hair salon and less of a barber shop!

Draw Fi Di Broom!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Ever wondered what the Olympics would be like if Jamaica were the host country?

Okay, we all know that we will probably never host an Olympic Games because we have neither the financial nor infrastructural support in place to even consider a bid, but just use your imagination for a minute.

We’re bringing this up because it was the source of much laughter among a group of Jamaicans in a Caribbean restaurant yesterday, as folks gathered to witness the first day of track and field action at the Olympic Games.

Jamaicans, food and track and field, of course the vibe is going to be right; an old Stone Love CD blares through the speaker but not even the familiar ’90s dancehall and reggae classics got more than a passing interest as the discussion ballooned from idle chatter among a few to an almost restaurant-wide conversation.

From which substances would be removed from WADA’s banned list to which public figure would be given the role as the ‘official mascot of the games’.

Anyway, the Jamaicans certainly got off to a solid start on the track and certainly in the field.

Dorian Scott certainly caused broad smiles among many Jamaicans after his qualification to the finals, and with the sprinting trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart all advancing to the 100m semi-finals, and the ‘Big man dem’ – Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell – ready to unleash, the Olympics has truly taken on new heights.

By the way, how the people dem a pressure one of the top man suh? Three tests in five days – a Jamaica wi name, so hope he manages to keep his calm and take out his frustration on the track.Draw fi di broom … Jamaican sweep!

Jamaica Deh Yah Now!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

We knew it was coming, everybody knew it was coming.

Jamaica was going to take over the Olympic Games sooner or later and after that double medal performance from our queens Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100m gold medal for the second straight Games and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who just continues to stock her medal cabinet with a bronze, we can truly say that the games are finally beginning to get exciting for most of us.

To think that by the time some of you read this we will be getting ready for what we hope will be a men’s 100m final stockpiled with all three Jamaicans, Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell.

Oh, what a party it was last night inside the London Olympic Stadium as a few hundred Jamaicans and many more people, who for just over 10 seconds became Jamaicans, celebrated the medals.

The celebrations continued in the Olympic Park long after the event as a few colourful Jamaicans and even more non-Jamaicans danced and frolicked. In truth, it kinda felt like Jamaica back in the days, when the country celebrated every Reggae Boyz World Cup 1998 qualifying campaign as if each and every one of our lives depended on it.

The vibe was no less vibrant as we made our way home in the tube, as several other Jamaicans met us there and those onboard who were not Jamaicans, certainly got in on our crazy antics.

It’s times like these you are forced to take a step back and look on in awe at the impact that our little country has had on this planet and the appeal that it still commands, despite the many ills.

Trust me, if we put as much effort and energy into finding solutions for our country as we do in celebrating our sporting accomplishments, we would be several decades ahead at this point.

By the way, we went home without the Jamaican shirt that we went to the stadium with last night and it cost some guy a decent change, but anything with Jamaica is in high demand here and people seem very willing to buy the clothes off your back if you will let them.

Like everyone else, we can hardly wait for tonight’s men’s 100m final … oh what we’d give for a Jamaican 1-2-3 here!

100 Joys And ‘Charlie’ The Barber

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

How great it felt, how great it always feels, to stand with pride as your nation’s National Anthem plays in a stadium, its athletes standing on top of the podium and glistening medals dangling from necks.

I can never get used to it and it hits a soft spot every time.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown started my day the way they ended the previous one, on a real high.

Congrats again ladies and see you in the 200m.

I must also say a big congrats to the 100m champion Usain Bolt and silver medallist Yohan Blake.

I hope that Asafa Powell is able to get over that injury.

For anyone questioning whether Blake’s emergence has threatened his relationship with Bolt, they only needed to see them before and after their semi-final and final yesterday.

No beef in the camp

They did everything together on the warm-up track and were like kids in the mixed zone, even cutting in on each other’s interviews. Blake even shared that it was Bolt who helped to get him calm and settled before the race – so no more talk about any beef in the camp.

I can imagine the excitement in Leyton last night as Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake secured Jamaica’s latest medals at the Olympic Games.

You see, a group of us jumped on a train to the quiet town, located just a few minutes from the Olympic Park, to link Jamaican barber ‘Charlie’ yesterday morning.

The Gleaner’s photographer, Ricardo Makyn, had made the trip before to get his haircut and swore by Charlie’s skills, but what Mr Makyn didn’t tell us was how much of a riot Charlie is.

Jamaican flags and other paraphernalia hanging from every corner of the small barbershop, an old Killamanjaro CD blaring from the audio system, colourful chatter and a few “choice words” from the Jamaican vernacular greeted us as we stepped through the door.

“Yow see some real yard man yah,” Charlie exclaimed.

He spoke about everything!

From Bolt/Blake and the Olympics, Kartel and Shabba (Ranks) to Reneto Adams.

“Yow, when Adams talk mi ‘fraid and a way a England mi deh’,” Charlie said.

A customer calls, Charlie tells the person to get to the shop before a certain time because he will be closing early to go home and watch the Olympic Games.

Like most Jamaicans here, he is having the time of his life; enjoying every minute of Jamaica’s sprinting dominance and appeal at these Games.

Did you guys hear about the drunken fan that threw a bottle on the track before the start of the 100m?

I don’t know what exactly he was trying to accomplish, but a Dutch reporter told us that he actually got punched in the face for his troubles by a judo athlete.

How him ‘fi wah mash up’ the big race?

Games Coverage A Real Olympic Challenge

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

You know, this has been a somewhat challenging Olympic Games to cover. From the limitations at the pre-Olympic camp in Birmingham to the regular rigours of day-to-day coverage of the Games itself, London 2012 is a test for athletes as well as it is for journalists.

Heavy snoring and reporters ‘bucking’ left, right, and centre on the shuttle buses heading back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning, is testament to the work that goes into covering an event of this magnitude and the toll it takes.

Time is like money in Jamaica; there just isn’t enough of it. The day moves quickly, deadlines approach quickly, 3 a.m. arrives quickly – time to go ‘home’, 7:30 a.m. arrives quickly – time to get out of bed, and we do it all again, all while running up and down for interviews, following leads, trying to keep up with all items of news.

It’s a crazy cycle and oddly enough, you fall right in line after a matter of time. You learn to sleep when you can; like on the bus on the way home at 3 a.m. or during certain ‘not-too-exciting’ events.

That didn’t work out for a German journalist the other day, who fell asleep in the tribune, but must have overslept and missed an event he needed to see.

He was rather upset as he felt his colleague should have alerted him; miserable much, everyone seems a bit grumpy at times, but what else can you expect from a bunch of folk, who work long hours and don’t get enough sleep.

I had a good laugh the other day as RJR reporter Kayon Raynor and I ran through the corridors of the London Olympic Stadium, trying to catch one of the shuttle buses back to the Main Press Centre.

Ok, well to tell the truth, I was running, Raynor was doing something entirely different, but it’s the reaction of a volunteer that had me in stitches.

“Are you guys athletes?” she asked, a fair question since we were both wearing Jamaican jackets.

“Well I know I look like one,” I replied. “But I’m actually a journalist.”

I was going to tell her of my 100m exploits in the Media race some time ago when I easily outsprinted RJR’s Jermaine Brown and a few others, including my own Editor Audley Boyd (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, this is my column anyway LOL). Frankly, after that beating that he got, I’m surprised that I still have a job. Anyway, I decided against telling her my story.

“Well you look like an athlete,” she said to me.

“He looks like a manager or a coach, or he could be a shot putter,” she said in reference to Raynor.

Epic stuff!

By the way, I blame top Jamaican and athletics coaches, Stephen Francis and Glen Mills, for leading the young lady into thinking that every coach must have big belly. LOL!!!

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com

Bet ‘Yuh’ Money

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

“Explain suppen to me deh, a long time me leff Jamaica, but mi guh back inna March and affi wonder if a di same place.”

In his early 50s or so, Jerry, who told without being asked that he had been living in the UK for over 20 years, had been following me through the King’s Cross and St Pancras stations as I made my way to catch the ‘Javelin’ train that takes spectators from Central London to the East London Olympic Park in five minutes.

To be honest, I was considerably concerned by now and rather annoyed. Why was this ‘bredda’ following me through the train station and chatting like his life depended on it?

You see, I am not normally this miserable (this view does not reflect the opinion of everyone at The Gleaner), but having to get out of bed after only a little over three hours sleep makes even a bright spirit like mine blacker than the original Vybz Kartel.

Wasn’t it obvious enough that I was not interested in whatever he was saying? I was walking at 9.63 seconds pace, but there he was, chatting away about all sort of things concerning his old days in Jamaica.

It soon occurred to me that it was the bright yellow Jamaica jacket that I was sporting that drew him to me; a fellow Jamaican – clearly here for the Olympics – with whom he could vent.

At 7:25 a.m. – the ‘Javelin’ would be leaving the station in five minutes and Jerry was still keeping pace, not bad for a man in his 50s actually.

Really amusing

He did, however, say something that I found really amusing.

“Look pon all the music ting. I hear some tings a play pon the radio; foolishness!”

Jerry was getting a bit animated now.

“How a man fi name Popcaan? Somebody really name dem self suh and people listen to him?”

I have to admit I did find that funny, especially because of the expressions and genuine look of concern on his face.

Had another light moment with a fellow journalist yesterday evening as a group of us Jamaicans made our way to the stadium.

The topic of discussion was the fast-approaching men’s 200m final, and while the opinions on the winner and winning time seemed to be split down the middle, a Belgian journalist sent all in stitches with his conviction; Bolt will win and he will do it in world record time.

“The world record will go, bet all your money, bet all your houses and lands in Jamaica; I guarantee you that you will be rich,” Olaf laughed. “When the race is done you will be able to buy the entire island and even a little piece of Cuba.”

It certainly promises to be a quick one. The last time that Usain Bolt ran 9.6 in a 100m, he went on to run 19.30 over 200m, and considering the shape that he seems to be in, and with Yohan Blake more than willing to test him and push him along, 19.20s, 19.30s seem a fair prediction.

But if you like the Belgian’s confidence, check JustBet and see wah can gwaan fi yuh and then remember you read it here … and send me a change!