Jamaica’s sporting prowess cannot be denied. We have four of the fastest men in history and three of the fastest women of all time. We have championship-calibre boxers, world class swimmers, exceptional cricketers, and talented football players.

With such a strong sporting culture, keeping athletes healthy is very crucial to maintaining a high level of success. Therefore, understanding the nature of and managing and effectively treating injuries will play a major role in sustaining the country’s reputation as a sporting giant. Thus, research is paramount in any such pursuit. The University of the West Indies is presently researching the factors that contribute to our athleticism and a big part of that is examining the things that cause injuries and how to mitigate against them.

Sprint icon Merlene Ottey has, for years, been involved in bio-mechanic research. Even today she still actively engages in work that has yielded valuable information on muscle response to fatigue, what improves muscle performance and how to prevent injury. Using her own body as a ‘guinea pig’, Merlene, wearing bio-sensors that measure her muscle fatigue transmits valuable information to a team of scientists and coaches. That information is used to help her train in accordance to what her 52-year-old body can handle to make it as efficient and as effective as possible.

Professor Rachel Irving from UWI, who is part of the team that leads sports-related research, complained recently that funding for such research is hard to come by. The private sector is yet to buy into what can be achieved by the research hence they are not lining up to fund such research. This is yet another example of how limited the vision is in this country.

Over time, the research will eventually yield conclusive information that will benefit athletes all over the world. It is this fact, above all else that makes whatever information comes forth very valuable. This is especially true if there is any breakthrough in how to help athletes recover from potential career-ending injuries. Should such a breakthrough become reality, coaches and doctors from all over the world would be lining up to pay good money to have access to the research data and findings.

On a different scale, such a foundation could give rise to a sports medicine facility where athletes from the United States, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean could access the best treatment in the world. Right now, Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and many of the world’s top sportsmen fly all the way to Germany and to Ireland for the best treatment money can buy. Why would they need to do that if they could take a short flight to Jamaica to do the same?

It is why I feel it prudent for the UWI or UTech and Ottey to join forces, pooling their data and experience to take the research to a higher level. Ottey’s name can help to attract the funding and with the knowledge that she brings coupled with the ongoing research ¬†at the UWI, Jamaica could find itself on the verge of developing a new source of valuable revenue.

A sports medicine clinic and a research facility creates opportunities for employment for doctors, research assistants, physiotherapists, coaches, lab technicians, concessionaires and many more people. They could also help re-brand Jamaica as not just a tourist destination but a place where great minds have come together to offer the world’s best athletes the very best health care that will help them prolong or rescue their illustrious careers.

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  1. johntowit says:

    Why am I not surprised, the PSOJ are cowards; over the years they make their big profits sending it off to high interest off shore schemes, while giving back very little to the island of origin.

    Its just since Athens 2004 and Bejing 2008, we see local biznizes showing a keener interest in athletics sponsorship. Over the years they given back precious little to the sports fraternity; if you ask me they dont even conduct sufficent “science and research” with regards to their own survival.

    Just recently Professor Ventura was promulgating the need for local industries and entrepenuers to help sponsor a mathematics workshop. A workshop that attracted tutors from as far a field as Canada, Austrailia, Belgium, etc. but our local manufacturers did’nt see/acknowledge the urgency of the appeal. At present our very survival depends on pupils comming through the system with strong mathematics and scientific capabilities.

    I wrote a blog on the Trinidad Express recently highlighting the great work people like Merlene Ottey, Danny MacFarline are doing in competing at such old an age. Indeed they’re providing significant/v.important data with regards to the athletes’ limit.

    Example: At what age certain athlete’s graph starts to level-out and slopes downward? It might have to do with a number of factors: Age, genetics, bone structure, nutritional history, etc. or a combination of these.

    So we do give thanks for Ottey, Mcfarline, etc. Its not always about winning medals, they’re other aspects as well.

  2. Emmett De Cambre' says:

    This article is so true and if Jamaica and Jamaican busness interest were smart they should JUMP at this opportunity as it’s a WIN – WIN circumstance for ALL CONCERNED if the powers that be do…. THINK LONG TERM EVERYONE and for sure the investment will pay off beyond everyone’s expectations.

  3. AMI AMI says:

    Well I am very please with Ms Ottey’s accomplishments over the years. There is no doubt in my mind that she was robbed of the more significant medals in the Olympics by losers who had to win at whatever cost. One would have to be naive not to wonder how many got away for each that was caught. The culprits were able to outsmart the system, but my consolation is, if confession is good for the soul, that she was up against dopers will come to fruition.

  4. Paris Taylor says:

    I go a far way back with Merlene as a classmate of this illustrious Jamaican at Rusea’s High School for three years from September of 1975 to 1978 June. Merlene is tranfixed with success and has a heart like none other. Her body mass index is has an overwhelming amount of muscle in comparable to the amount of fat in her anatomy. She is motivated to achieve and nothing can distract her from her ultimate goal in realizing her dream. She is defintately an epitome of excellence and a well grounded individual who knows what it takes to train towards her desinated ambitions.
    No one can dispute the enormous amount of sacrifice she has placed in her training to achive such resounding physique. Merlene is the ultimate athlete and noone can ever try and convince me more of her courage and commitment for the advancement of the people of this glorious isle than this champion of ours. She is a rare treasure which needs protecting she is a the most useful athletic specimen ever. I am convinced she will never die without achiving what she considers as the dream of many a men to link pride with time.

  5. David A. Magnus says:

    Greetings family…..
    I too subscribe to the fact that the private sector is not showing the strength jamaica needs in this department. I am a sports massage therapist, and a self trained life athlete. I myself would be willing to participate in such a program as I also coach at the community and motivational levels. I am also sure that there are many other middle aged jamaicans like Merlene and myself who would donate valuable information to such a sport databank. The idea of developing our own treatment levels would surely put Jamaica in a another position of authority within the international track and field community.

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levyl Posted by: levyl February 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm