By Laurie Foster, Special to Trackalerts.com
As the region gears down to another track and field season, Foster’s Fairplay looks to one who has contributed immensely to the label of excellence supreme. Based in the USA city of Atlanta, Georgia, Jamaican Claude Bryan has been an integral part of the sport from his days at the St. Andrew Technical High School in a Kingston Inner City community called Bumper Hall.
He studied and participated in other school activities under the watchful eyes of Mr. Discipline & Dignity himself, S.W. Isaac-Henry, popularly known as “Zack.”
Now, an IAAF Athletes Representative (Agent) Bryan has been playing an important role in the fortunes of some of the region’s brightest talents, on and off the field of competition.
A BIT OF A LONER
Those close to him and by extension, having knowledge of his philosophy, will recognize him as being an “agent with a difference.” He moves strategically, trying to stay below the radar in his attempts to land his targets. Seldom, if ever is he seen in hotel lobbies during high profile international meetings, clinking glasses with colleagues and participating in the tales of “who will be caught next in drug cheating.” Look for the former radio journalist in a corner with a trusted close friend or two introducing his most recent athlete acquisition.
This columnist has been making notes of some of Bryan’s charges over time, led by the too-long-in-being –acknowledged, Queen of Jamaican Sprinting, Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Nestled in the camp, to which they have been recruited, they seem to bear a stamp of self-imposed calm, composure and calculated confidence in their ability to perform to their maximum potential. Of those met, Jamaica’s Chanice Porter, a long jumper of immense potential who boasts (FF’s word) a couple of global medals and the awesome talent of Shaunae Miller, a well decorated Bahamian 400m specialist, come immediately to mind.
Their faith in the soft-spoken track and field guru to chart their course to prominence, earning a few bucks in the process, is highly evident. Bryan was quizzed on their prospects on the wider and more demanding stage – the rigours of the professional circuit. This, once the trappings of early success can be off-loaded.
However, he tries to veil his optimistic view It is an exercise in futility. This man, given away by his tell-tale smile and chuckle, could not fool even the willing. The honesty and forthright attitude brought to the fore by his Christian faith, lights the path into the future for the two Caribbean personality gems.
A significant proportion of our athletes are disadvantaged, given a background of lack of early exposure to certain qualities. They have to be schooled by someone in whom they have built trust, as to what is acceptable and that which is not. Our boys and girls do not deserve the likely cultural baptism of fire when they enter a new world based only on a 10 zero or a 51 low, as highly marketable those marks might be.
The high school and club systems are full of apparent do-gooders, father and mother figures, not all with honorable agenda. Yes, they take charge and care of the young talents. Those with good intention can and do prepare the youths for the “bright lights” and “expensive cars” which lie ahead.
Foster’s Fairplay has been exposed to several and hopefully one day, they will be recognized. Claude Bryan, eminently qualified, can do the preparation job required for our young athletes.
Why not utilize his services?
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Laurie Foster) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Trackalerts.com.
Laurie Foster, a veteran sports journalist, was recently nominated and short-listed in an elite group of eight by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the prestigious 2014 World Athletics Journalist of the Year Award. He has been covering sports for both electronic and the written press since the West Indies cricket tour to England in 1963. He has done several IAAF Championships at the youth, junior and senior levels dating back to the World Juniors, Sudbury, Canada in 1988.