Add Russell ‘Midnight’ Thompson and his vivid story-telling – fiction with a sprinkling of fact – the five- or six-strong Wynter clan, all representing the black and green, and the call was like that following a Sir Garfield Sobers extra-cover drive – “not a man moved”. They all craved their ‘I was there’ status and had to be seen in the place – talk about distraction as the distant sound of a gunshot, piercing the air at intervals, indicating the start of yet another, seemingly irrelevant race. There was a cost for all this. Those highly anticipated races went by without the visual input of some of the most ardent followers of the sport. Thank you, ‘Stewie’ Spencer for passing by and bringing the group to attention as to what had been missed. It was a good day, and the hospitality of the homesters was first-class. It only needs a little fine-tuning to get the event in more spectator-friendly mode. Calabar has a tradition of excellence in the sport to uphold. Wint and McKenley started the trend, and those now in the limelight are carrying the baton, protected by a host of well-wishers. There can be no better way to concretise the tradition of the ‘Utmost for the Highest’. They were summoned to perform last Saturday, and the response was tumultuous. “Here, Sir.” Good job, Calabar! Saturday, January 23, 2016, was a significant day in the already richly endowed history of Jamaica’s track and field. It signalled the dawn of a new day in which Calabar High School hosted a track meet on a home-based, synthetic surface. The event was in honour of two of its athletic products who have etched their names in the annals of the sport around which the country has received its most global acclaim. That such prominence, privilege, and prestige should have gone to Red Hills Road was indeed fitting, given that school’s meaningful contribution to the process. The celebrants, Herb McKenley and Dr Arthur Wint, stand as the first two Jamaicans to record medals at the highest echelon of the sport. These came at the 1948 London Olympics when the country, not then an independent nation, huddled under the Union Jack, singing God Save the King, took gold (400m) and silver (800m) from Wint’s efforts, and silver (400m) from the McKenley performance. As if by a divine mandate, with the demands of history not to be denied, Saturday last was to feature a spectacle that could not have been accorded a more appropriate stage. On display, opening the year of the XXXI Olympiad, were two home-grown athletes of a more recent generation, both given to top world ranking at their age levels in the 400m, similar to Wint and McKenley. Javon Francis and Christopher Taylor have made their announcement that they would be factors to be considered when up against their global competitors. Francis took the spotlight at the 2013 Moscow World Championships after a spine-tingling anchor run in the 4x400m relay that plucked a silver medal out of nothing. His 44.00 split called to mind the gold medal, world record-breaking leg of 44.6 at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics by the undisputed great, Herb McKenley. Taylor ran to Jamaica’s only gold at the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia, last year, registering 45.27, not only a national youth (Under-18) record, but the second-best ever for a 15-year-old. If ever the healthy tradition was on the doorstep of repeat greatness, the time must be now – the prospect of it being cemented, mouth-watering. That the raison d’Ítre for being present was sidelined is testimony to the atmosphere and ambiance that was the Red Hills facility on the day. The presence of old stagers in local scholastic sport, representing the administrative, supporter or on-the-field cohort, detracted somewhat from the competition, however enticing. This columnist, in several aborted attempts to take up trackside viewing advantage, was thwarted by absorbing conversation with such sporting stalwarts as Bernie Panton of a former local governing body fame and a Calabar old-timer; ‘Bowla’ Morant of mid-60’s Fortis football glory; and Devon ‘Stone Age’ Smith, who they all acknowledged to have been a fierce middle-order batsman at the host school. NOT A MAN MOVED
BUILDING: Drop in number of new homes may signal wider problems for the economy, analysts say. By Martin Crutsinger THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Construction of new homes plunged to the lowest level in 14 years in September as turmoil in credit markets intensified the problems in the housing industry. Consumer prices, meanwhile, rose at the fastest pace in four months, reflecting higher energy and food costs. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that construction of new homes fell 10.2 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.191 million units. The decline was more than double the 4.2 percent drop that analysts had been expecting, and it pushed activity down to the lowest level since March 1993. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices rose by 0.3 percent in September, slightly more than the 0.2 percent that analysts expected as energy prices rose after three straight declines and food costs shot up at the fastest pace since June. Core inflation, excluding energy and food, remained tame, though, rising by 0.2 percent, in line with expectations. Analysts said the bigger-than- expected drop in housing construction could be signaling that the housing downturn, already the worst in 16 years, may be headed for bigger troubles. Housing activity is 30.8 percent below the level of a year ago. Asked whether the housing slump could push the country into a recession, President Bush told a news conference that “I feel good about many of the economic indicators” and said his administration was working to help homeowners deal with rising mortgage delinquencies. “When you got more houses than you got buyers, the price tends to go down. And we’re going to have to work through the issue,” Bush said. But private economists were not as certain that the steep housing slump will not cause a recession. “The contraction in housing is transitioning from an average downturn to among the worst in the post-World War II history,” said Michael Gregory, an economist with BMO Capital Markets. Many economists expect housing will trim growth by more than a full percentage point in the current quarter, but they believe the country will avoid an outright downturn because the Fed, which cut rates for the first time in four years in September, will cut rates again should further weakness develop. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!