If the performances of gold medalists Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica, Kirani James of
Grenada and Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago in the London Olympics excited your interest in Caribbean athletics, or if you have been a long-time fan, you really should check out Black Meteors – The Caribbean in International Track and Field.
Black Meteors is published by Ian Randle Publishers, and written by Basil Ince, a former athlete and administrator, diplomat and academic, who marries his interests in this thoroughly attractive and engaging book about Caribbean sportsmen and women.
The layout and format of the book are excellent, with easy-to-read text, and a large number of photographs of athletes ranging from the pioneers like Lennox Miller and Arthur Wint of Jamaica, to more recent athletes such as Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago and Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, and current stars like Yohan Blake and superstar sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica, among many, many more.
And therein lies one of the biggest and most welcome differences between this book and many others. The author states that:
“throughout the book the word Caribbean refers to all Caribbean peoples, English speaking and non-English speaking.”
Ince approaches that issue of what is a “Caribbean” athlete in an entirely natural way, that makes not just geographical sense, given the breadth of talent displayed throughout the region, but also allows the author to introduce readers to some athletes who may not as well known to them as others.
The other important aspect of Ince’s approach to the book was the effortless story-telling which brings to life, not just the athletes and their successes, but the socio-political backdrop to their sporting careers.
One example is his discussion of the evolution of women’s participation in the Olympics, from the days when women were not allowed to participate at all, to the performances of the great Merlene Ottey of Jamaica (who is still competing at over 50 years old) and Deon Hemmings, the first Caribbean woman to win Olympic gold in 1996.
Another example is the exploration of the impact of the Cuban revolution on the performance of Cuban athletes, which laid the groundwork for athletes like Alberto Juantorena, winner of the 800 m and 400m gold medals in Montreal, and the struggles of the track and field programme given the US economic embargo of the
But Ince also spends time discussing current issues and athletes, including Jamaica’s success in Beijing.
If you have any interest at all in track and field, this will be an excellent addition to your library.