WHAT do Levern Spencer and Serena Williams have in common?
Their sizes differ by miles. One’s bashful, the other simply brash. They’re simply not the same.
Levern would painfully and quietly soak-in the insult of a winner being forced to stand at attention at an award ceremony being broadcast globally, to a national anthem not her own. But not Serena, who won’t mind paying a big fine to loudly let the world know if she feels singled out for special treatment by any umpire.
The one thing the two do (unquestionably) have in common, however, is their absolute talent on the field of play in their respective sports.
Unlike Serena, Levern has never really had to make a comeback, every year simply adding to the gold she brings home. Unlike Serena too, Levern has so much less by way of material rewards for making her country proud, over and over again.
Levern has never been seen to take a loss in bad spirit. Always cool, calm and collective on the field of play, you’d easily think that soaring over bars is all there is on her mind. Some even (sadly) think that’s all she’s can do.
However, like every other young woman growing-up, 34-year-old Levern also has her eyes on her future – and that’s no sport. She too has to be and is thinking about life after sport, living the real life after a life of play, even though at the top of her game.
Levern must also be looking at her competitors and the way they are being treated and rewarded by their governments and institutions at home for flying their national flag high abroad and making their country proud.
Many of those she beat to reach the very top each time will have already been rewarded back home for being good enough just to qualify for the finals. But here at home, Levern’s fellow citizens are caught in an unending mode of revolving door discussion over whether and how she should be rewarded.
We’ve been down this road before and recently urged the start of a national discussion – not debate – on how best to reward Levern. We are pleased, therefore, that another newspaper, The Mirror, has also (recently) likewise editorialized on the issue, suggesting a ballpark figure of US $100,000 annually as an ongoing reward to the nation’s top athlete.
We are glad the discussion seems to have taken off, but we must here make one pertinent observation: while we talk slowly, Levern is quickening her winning pace, this past week offering yet another example of her outstanding value as a national sporting icon.
Representing The American Continent at the prestigious IAAF-sponsored Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic, the only woman athlete from the OECS kept her calm against the tough East European competition and won her second Bronze medal in her third outing on behalf of all of North, South and Central America — and the Caribbean.
Levern has closed yet another season at the top. And with every sign from Ostrava that she’s nowhere near the end of her game, let’s just hope the discussion on how best we should reward her can catch-up with the victor’s winning pace.