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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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The happy tale of travelling Jamaican fans!

In bright yellow and green dresses, fans from the Caribbean nation bring warmth and excitement to the stands.
Jamaican Fans Cheer Their Athletes On At The Khalifa International Stadium
Jamaican fans cheer their athletes on at the Khalifa International Stadium. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Jamaican fans, in their bright yellow and green coloured dresses, never fail to catch the eye on the stands at every major athletics competition. Singing, dancing and waving flags, they spread warmth and joy.

The bright band of men and women from Jamaica has descended on Doha too, rooting for their athletes from the gallery near the finish irrespective of the results.

Many of them have followed their athletes to multiple World Championships and Olympic Games around the globe. And in Doha they got their money’s worth, with their country winning a clutch of medals, including a surprise gold — Tajay Gayle in the men’s long jump.

Hopeton McCatty, a retired IT professional, said Gayle’s triumph with a leap of 8.69M, was the highlight of his Doha experience. He felt it could lead to a shake-up within Jamaican athletics.

“I saw Usain Bolt set the 100M and 200M world records at the 2008 Beijing Games. I’d place Gayle’s performance on par with those achievements for the sheer change it could bring to Jamaican track and field,” he told Inside Qatar.

For the record, Gayle’s feat in the long jump was the first-ever gold medal for Jamaica in a men’s field event at the World Championships.

Long jumper James Beckford’s two silver medals (’95 Gothenburg and ’03 Paris) and shot putter O’Dayne Richards’s bronze (’15 Beijing) were the previous best shows. Jamaica’s woman triple jumper Trecia Smith had won gold at the ’05 Worlds in Helsinki.

“Until now, most Jamaican children wanted to run fast, like Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. The perception was we were good only in sprints. But after Gayle’s show, a kid who’s running 100M in 10.5 sec will think of using it for a different discipline, like long jump, which also counts on speed. They’ve more options now. I feel this is the start of something wonderful for Jamaican athletics,” he said.

Dennis Hawthorne is a veteran of five IAAF Worlds – ’11 Daegu, ’13 Moscow, Beijing, ’17 London and now Doha. He has also attended four Olympic Games – ’96 Atlanta, ’08 Beijing, ’12 London and ’16 Rio. Hawthorne said pure passion spurred him and countless other Jamaicans to go to competitions.

“It hasn’t always been this way,” said the businessman. “Earlier, Jamaicans used to see athletes grow up at local and national-level events, but rarely ventured out to see them compete abroad. The situation changed with the rise of the middle class. Now there’s a dedicated bunch of lively fans who bring a joyous atmosphere to the stands. Our passion spurs the athletes on,” he said with a smile.

Lianne McNaughton, having travelled only to the ’15 and ’17 Worlds, is a relative newcomer to the Jamaican fan club. She said she intended to keep following the team.

“My mom Olivia organises trips for fans to follow Jamaican athletes around the world. Though I’m relatively new to it, the bug has bitten me. Now I save up money for my travels, and I enjoy the anticipation before each competition,” said the business administration student.