“Life is more marathon than sprint. Winners run to live.”
I published the quote above on the day Barbadian athlete Obadele Thompson won an Olympic bronze medal in a 100 metre race.
It was the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Thompson was beaten into third place by the USA’s Maurice Greene, who took gold, and Trinidad and Tobago's Ato Boldon, who took the silver medal. Thompson also took part in the 200 metre race but failed to medal in that one, finishing fourth.
Also competing at the Olympics that year was Thompson’s future wife, whose marathon lying over her use of performance enhancing drugs since 2000 and involvement in a cheque fraud scheme ultimately led to her being imprisoned on March 7th 2008.
I published the marathon-sprint comparison thought on a chalk board I had erected outside Poetpourri House – my home on Dalkeith Road, in the southern parish of St. Michael, Barbados; the wooden house in which Intelek International (originally called Roots Academy) was conceived, and its activities coordinated for many years.
That chalk board, community consciousness-raising initiative was one of those activities.
My intention in sharing these words was to offer some consolation to Thompson who had come in for a fair bit of public criticism from a number of Barbadians, unhappy that he only managed to secure a bronze medal.
The criticisms were largely catalysed by arguably ill-timed or ill-advised comments made by Barbados’ then Minister of Tourism and Sport, Noel “Barney” Lynch.
Lynch, whose own athletic career is not without distinction (see footnotes) had managed the Barbados track and field team at the Sydney games.
The Barbados Labour Party politician and businessman who once notably declared “I am a Minister in a hurry!”, is perhaps best known for his “sprinting” exit from a broadcasting studio at the Voice of Barbados (Starcom) radio station, when he had been ambushed (my assessment) by journalist David Ellis.
By “sprinting” here, I mean abrupt. If “Barney” was in any hurry to leave the studio, it is not clear in the recording that I have included a link to below - compliments of the anonymously published Barbadoa Fee Press blog.
Lynch's exit actually seemed somewhat dignified (at least superficially), if indignant. He can be heard thanking Mr. Ellis for the interview as he leaves.
I share an account of the “run-in” I had with Ellis in March 2002 – which informs my assessment of his actions as an ambush - on my website, www.intelek.net. Those listening to the recording can decide for themselves whether they think my assessment is valid or inappropriate.
In the Youtube recording, at the link in the notes accompanying this article, Ellis refers to an email he claims he received which questions how Lynch had gone from being a beggar to a millionaire in seemingly record time since becoming a member of the Barbados Parliament.
Lynch refuses to lower himself to respond to Ellis’ comment, accuses the seasoned journalist of disrespecting him, links the insult to the desire of some people to keep “little black boys” in their place (a possible anonymous allusion to the British expatriate and hotelier Adrian Loveridge, who was also a guest in the studio) and departed.
My reference to this incident is more than metaphoric.
Setting aside the race argument and related issues raised by Lynch, for the time being, the subject of some Barbadians’ rapid wealth accumulation and similar meteoric rises that Ellis raised is closely related to issues of fairness, balance, perseverance and interdependence that I discuss in many (possibly most) of the articles I have published on this site.
These issues figure prominently in my “David Cameron’s curious Christian commerce” series of articles, at least one of which addresses Cameron’s and US President Barack Obama’s emphasis on the principle of fairness in speeches where they talk of reforming capitalism.
(My article "As Obama at the crease" which uses cricketing language, could be described as a study of Obama's "marathon political innings".)
The two most recent articles in that series focusing on the flighty, ideological fundamentalist thinking of British venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, Barbadian evangelical preacher Reverend Holmes Williams and others, addresses the failure of these and other persons to appreciate the principle of interdependence that is critical to the practice of democracy at all levels – from the home to the state.
In the most recent article (#7) I reference the views of MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes, who discusses the “iron law of oligarchy”, among other socioeconomic and political phenomena, in his forthcoming book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.
While I have difficulty reconciling the claim that Hayes’ analysis is “radically new” – made by the progressive academic leader, New School of New York – with what I have read of Mr. Hayes’ ideas so far, I certainly am in broad agreement with him on a number of points he makes on the dynamics of fairness and unfairness in organizational settings.
And fairness and related issues will figure prominently in the “metamimetic” analysis I will offer in an upcoming series of articles stemming from my own “sprint-related” misstep this past weekend.
That is when I erroneously attributed comments made by a fan of the “swiftly risen” (since her appearance on the US country and western scene) American music starabout the similarly meteorically risen Barbadian diva , to Swift herself.
I hope that by the time I embark on that project, I will have interviewed the American teenage “Swiftie” , Amanda, who Tweeted the comment in an account that prominently displayed Taylor Swift’s name.
That name was swiftly erased on Saturday following my contact with Amanda, who also said she would be happy to be interviewed to help clear up the confusion – for which I take primary responsibility.
Accidents happen. We all make mistakes.
But the wisest of us take responsibility for our shortcomings, being mindful that life is indeed more marathon than sprint.
Both Obadele Thompson and his wife Marion Jones seem to have grasped this concept.
Has Noel Lynch? Or is he still, a minister in a hurry?