August 29, 2012

Olympian Calvin Stamp Shares Key to Jamaican Success

Scott and I met some Olympic athletes over the weekend at a Hall of Fame event!  I found them inspiring and yet down-to-earth at the same time.  They were happy to give us autographs and visit with us.  Today I wanted to share what one of them taught us as we spoke with him about reaching the level of Olympian.

Calvin Stamp hails from Jamaica.  He competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Oympics as a super-heavyweight weight lifter.  The photo is from the 1988 Seoul Olympics.  Calvin didn’t win any medals in either Olympics, but he won his freedom from poverty and want.  Becoming an Olympic athlete in a third-world country like Jamaica is a ticket out of poverty.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.  Cal trained hard and did his best, earning the Olympic rank of 9th in 1984 and 11th in 1988.  As shown in the photo, only a handful of athletes qualified for the Olympics from Jamaica in 1988.  It took a great deal of determination and effort to do so.

Today, Jamaican sprinters are still known for their hard work and determination.  Although there are only 3 modern tracks on which to train in Jamaica, the country produces some amazing sprinters.  The kids run on dirt tracks unless they are near the national stadium or near one of the two universities with paved tracks.  The best known Jamaican sprinter today is Usain Bolt.  He won 3 Gold medals in the recent 2012 London Olympics, repeating his 2008 Beijing Olympics performance.    

When asked why Jamaica produces so many great sprinters, Cal answered, “Desire.  For kids looking for a way up, athletics is one way to go.   There is nowhere for the people to go but up.  The kids are hungry to succeed.  When they train, they work hard and won’t quit until they are told to go home.  Once home, they keep training.  For example, Johann Blake did 500 sit ups and then 500 push ups when he got home.”

Cal, now a coach, contrasted that attitude with the common attitude among his athletes here in Georgia.  He said, “The kids here are more interested in when practice will be over to know when they can go home.”  That sounds familiar…

Perhaps that attitude is what separates the Olympians from the rest of us.  Do we train harder than required by our coaches?  Do we do all that is asked of us and more?  Or do we just do the minimum and head home.

This formula for success applies to other endeavors too, like school.  If we do more than expected in our class projects or homework, it will enable us to learn more and get better grades.  

It was good to talk to Cal and find out what makes the Jamaican team so hard to beat.  I started running again on Monday.  I will try not to count the minutes until I am done but do my best and run strong.  And I will look for ways to improve my stamina even after I’ve finished.  

“Calvin Stamp.”  Sports Reference:  Olympic Sports n. pag. web. 27 Aug 2012.
“Calvin Stamp.”  facebook n. pag. web. 27 Aug 2012.
Johnson, Scott.  "What I learned from Calvin Stamp."  Unpublished Interview 25 Aug 2012: oral.

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