Abused handcart man strikes gold in Austria
SPECIAL Olympian Dave Oddman basked in the limelight on ice at last month's Winter Games in Graz, Austria, winning gold and silver medals in speed skating, but back home in Jamaica, he was a physically abused handcart man trying to make a living in downtown's gritty Coronation Market, while struggling with an intellectual disability.
Oddman lives in Arnett Gardens and attended the School of Hope in Mona. He afterwards started working as a handcart man in downtown Kingston, transporting goods on his wooden cart.
Speaking on his behalf, Janet McLarty, who rescued the 35-year-old from his life of abuse, and for whom he now works solely, told STAR Sports that Oddman often experienced physical hell at the hands of persons he came in contact with.
Cart was stolen
McLarty said on one occasion the owner of a cart Oddman was operating struck him with a heavy chain across his back because the cart was stolen while in his care.
"I told him that we would give him back the money for the cart, and the man didn't even use his conscience, him just use the chain and lick him cross him back. He was in pain for how many days," McLarty recounted.
She said it was at that point she asked Oddman's mother if she could take responsibility for him. He no longer pushes carts but instead collects and delivers orders for her produce from customers.
"I told the mother to let him stop push the cart, and I will be responsible for him. I give him money on the weekends, money for clothes, shoes and toiletries," she said.
Jamaica's head of delegation, Glendon West, told STAR Sports that Oddman had started roller-skating a few years ago, and, subsequently, head of Special Olympics Jamaica, Lorna Bell, thought he would make a good addition to Jamaica's Winter Games team.
Oddman spent a week in Florida training on ice before travelling with the rest of Jamaica's team to the Winter Games. He accounted for two of Jamaica's five medals, winning gold in the 333-metre speed skate and silver in the 222-metre event.