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Where is the fight? - McFarlane calls for stronger mentality from Jamaica’s athletes

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2021 | 4:54 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
McFarlane
McFarlane

Olympics 400 metres hurdles silver medallist Danny McFarlane says many of the nation’s current athletes do not possess the mental fortitude to be ultra-competitive and successful at the professional level. The 49-year-old, who was known for his...

Olympics 400 metres hurdles silver medallist Danny McFarlane says many of the nation’s current athletes do not possess the mental fortitude to be ultra-competitive and successful at the professional level.

The 49-year-old, who was known for his fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude, believes that with the right mental attitude and support, talented local athletes can compete consistently with the best in the world.

“Not because you have talent means you have what it takes to go to the next level, because there is a lot of mental aspect to it, and I think that grit and determination is lacking,” McFarlane told The Gleaner.

He singled out the likes of current competitors such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Omar McLeod, who he believes have shown consistent resilience and competitive spirit, but lamented what he described as the scarcity of this trait among the majority of the island’s representative in the sport.

GRIT AND SPIRIT

McFarlane, who secured his Olympic podium at the 2004 Games in Athens, was also a crucial member of Jamaica’s 4x400m relay teams that won silver at the 2000 Olympic Games, as well as the five instalments of the World Championships that took place between 1995 and 2003.

“A lot of guys could have ran faster and did better than me, but it was just my mindset, the grit and competitive spirit that I approach my races with,” he revealed. “I had no fear. I was so focussed, nothing could throw me off.”

McFarlane, who mentors many young athletes in his spare time, wants to pass this trait on to the younger generation.

“I want to spread this to the younger ones so when people see them, they know they are there to compete,” he said.

Meanwhile, head coach at Sprintec Track Club, Maurice Wilson, agrees with McFarlane, adding his belief that some of the island’s younger athletes have become relaxed, because of the privileges that now exist that were not available in former years.

“Let me congratulate Danny on his achievements. He epitomises all you would want from an athlete that really want to achieve goals and what he says have some credibility,” Wilson commented.

“Athletes are not as hungry. In former years, athletes were not used to having massage therapy and nutritionists in schools and they are getting all these things now, so no motivation is there,” he continued. “When some get a contract, they believe they are going to be rich for life, so they don’t put in the same amount of effort.”

“Also, I don’t think they have the level of commitment to country as the athletes of Danny’s era,” Wilson added.

“With the pandemic, things have gotten a bit tighter and I think their motivation is going to be rejuvenated to achieve greater performances, but there needs to be a tougher and hungrier mentality and some amount of commitment to country,” added the experienced coach.

“It can’t be just about getting a contract and having fun, as the window for a professional sportsman is a very short one.”

Wilson has served in key coaching roles and, on many occasions, and has led Jamaica’s teams to the Olympic Games and World Championships during the country’s most successful era.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com