There are those who would joke that it's no surprise that the French are good at running. But humor aside, it is great to see Christophe Lemaitre win the gold medal in the 100 meters sprint at the latest European Athletic Team Championships. His blistering run, in which he clocked up a personal best, not only saw him add to the European Athletic Championship title he won last year, but also helped to further undermine the myth that only Blacks of West African descent can compete at the top level in sprinting.

Usually, when White athletes do well, much is made of their superior training and mental attitude, with the implication being that Blacks are still physically superior and will ultimately dominate when they have overcome these setbacks which, it is further implied, are in some way a legacy of 'racism.' It was interesting therefore to hear the comments of the man Lemaitre beat into the second place, the Black British sprinter, Dwain Chambers.
"He has so many advantages with his height and those long legs that keep striding past me...he is like an antelope."
As the first White man to break the 10-second barrier, Lemaitre is a genuine threat to Black dominance at next year's Olympics. His game plan seems to be test himself against Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell in the world championships in September, before deciding whether to focus on either the 100 or 200 meters for the Olympics. Even if he doesn't win Olympic gold next year, Lemaitre seems set to improve. At 21, he is three years younger than Bolt, but the earlier maturation of Black athletes means that the true gap in development is probably wider with Lemaitre sure to develop even more.

Western societies try extremely hard to be 'inclusivist' of their minorities, with sport playing a vital role in giving Blacks a high social profile they can not get elsewhere. Inevitably, this need for the social inclusion of Blacks and their inclusion in those sectors that can best accommodate them leads to an equivalent exclusion of others through various subtle forms of racism. This results in a partial caste system that is justified by the myth of Black sporting prowess. The more the myth is believed the closer it comes to mirroring reality, as talented White kids get turned off sport. The fact that Black kids mature more quickly is also an important factor.

Interestingly, Lemaitre grew up in a village near the Alps, a 'diversity' free environment. No doubt had he been raised in one of France's big multi-racial cities, he would not now be competing at the top level of athletics. Probably he would have been made to feel physically inadequate in some way, perhaps being called the French equivalent of a gawky White beanpole. If he had gone in for sports, he would probably have been passed over for selection and training in favor of faster maturing Black kids, who might also have taken the opportunity to bully him. By contrast, growing up in the country among his own people meant that his natural talent was encouraged.

The rise of Lemaitre is not just a sporting phenomenon. It is also a political opportunity, a chance to expose the myths, lies, and racism that enforce the sporting caste system.

Recommended link: Caste Football

No comments:

Post a Comment