What’s in a name? Ask Merlene Ottey High

March 18, 2016
Joan Jackson-Cope, principal of Merlene Ottey High School.    

Western Bureau:

With Jamaica having such a strong tradition in track and field, many would believe that an institution which carries the name of a great sport personality, in this case, the Merlene Ottey High School, should somehow demonstrate a strong sports programme.

That is wishful thinking, however, as that has not been the case at the school which bears the name of one of Jamaica's most decorated female track stars.

The truth, is that the great Merlene Ottey was never a student at the school formerly called Cascade Secondary Vocational School, and the current principal, Joan Jackson- Cope, said maybe that is the reason she has little to no relationship with the school or its budding track programme.

field programme

"We cannot speak of any established relationship with Ms Ottey at this time," Jackson-Cope said. "The fact that the school only bears her name and that she made her mark at Rusea's High and Vere Technical may be the reason for that," she added.

"Several attempts have been made over the years to have her involved with the school's activities, especially its track and field programme, but that has come to nought," added the principal.

With a mere two athletes, both girls, competing at the 2016 ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships, Merlene Ottey High is unlikely to pick up any medals at the meet.

Lack of gear, training equipment, and funding have been cited by Jackson-Cope as major stumbling blocks to a more rigorous sporting programme.

She said that when one speaks of the impact Ottey has had on youngsters involved in athletics in schools, the immediate correlation is drawn between her and her great legacy as a Vere Technical star. Others point to Rusea's High, where it all started for the great Jamaican athlete.

"But we would believe that the fact that she was born within shouting distance of this institution, and having hailed from this community, and having the local school name in your honour, that that would carry a significant weight," reasoned Jackson-Cope.

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