We have come to the time of the year when it is customary, almost de rigueur, to look back and reflect on the past year’s happenings. For most of us, the musings will inevitably be of a most personal nature – notable achievements, disappointments, anniversaries celebrated, the pursuit of happiness punctuated by sickness and death – all ticked off in the wins and losses columns on life’s scorecard.
For some of us, beyond the intensely personal nature of our reflections, there will be the realisation that much of what has affected our daily life – our struggles, big and small, to provide comfort and security for our families, our ambitions to do more for them and ourselves – can be laid at the feet of the politicians, the people whose actions most determine the economic and social environment in which we function.
We may well be moved to wonder how we coped amidst all the trials and tribulations heaped upon us but we will give thanks for the love and support of family and friends and the strength we derived from our different faiths.
On a somewhat less spiritual level, some of us may think of the refuge we sought in the arts, the world of entertainment and, of course, sport. And as we look back on the books we read, the movies we saw, the celebrities whose lives we vicariously entered and the marvellous sporting performances we witnessed, we will perhaps arrive at an appreciation of the measure of respite we gained from life’s travails and the lessons learnt on the way.
The British media and public, for example, are still rhapsodising about the huge success of London 2012 and the stellar exploits of their athletes at the Games, the first ever victory for a Brit in the Tour de France, Andy Murray’s Olympic gold medal and his victory at the US Open, which made him the first British man to win a grand slam event since 1936. Good for them.
But we in the Caribbean also have much sporting success to celebrate as we close out the year. The Jamaican sprinters again shone at the Olympics. They were, of course, led by the incomparable Usain Bolt, who completed an unprecedented ‘double treble’ by winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay for the second successive Olympiad, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who successfully defended her 100m crown whilst also copping silver in the 200m and 4x100m. The Bahamas men’s 4x400m relay team ended the US’s 28-year domination of the event. An unheralded 19 year-old, Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, surprised the world by becoming the youngest ever winner of the Olympic javelin title. And another 19 year-old, the long-striding Kirani James of Grenada, already a World Champion, became the Olympic 400m Champion, but not before he strode into the hearts of all at the end of the semi-final when he asked double-amputee Oscar Pistorius to swap name badges in what the Daily Telegraph called “an act of classy sportsmanship.”
There was also, at long last, sporting glory for the West Indies cricket team, who won the International Cricket Council Twenty20 World Cup, their first World Cup after a 33-year hiatus, doing much to restore West Indian pride in the regional game after 17 years of almost unrelieved pain. The West Indies had a relatively successful year in Test cricket too, proving to be more competitive against Australia earlier in the year and ending 2012 with four successive Test victories against New Zealand and Bangladesh. And Guyanese cricket fans, in particular, would have taken great pride in the return, albeit for a short period, of the redoubtable Shivnarine Chanderpaul to the position of number one Test batsman in the world rankings.
It is sobering to remember though, just in case anyone was daring to dream that the proverbial corner had finally been turned for West Indies cricket, that the West Indies embarrassingly lost the one-day series to Bangladesh, revealing that selection, coaching and captaincy issues, as well as the age-old problems of inconsistency and lack of focus, remained woefully unresolved.
On balance, however, 2012 was a good year for sport in the region. And, as we look back on the year, we can at least celebrate the brilliance of our sportsmen and sportswomen and the uplifting power of sport, reminding ourselves of what we can achieve, individually and collectively, when we learn to marry our natural abilities with discipline, dedication and the determination to prevail.