Family link that unites greatest black sports stars

Poster boy: Michael Johnson

Poster boy: Michael Johnson

First published in Local News by

AFRICAN and Caribbean sports stars were the subject of discussion at a literature review held as part of Black History Month at the Ealing Central Library on Thursday.

The Olympic Spirit - Journey to Greatness was hosted by community group Black History and Culture West London (BHCWL).

Group chair Cheryl Burke led a discussion on the autobiographies of two legendary Olympic sprinters, Usain Bolt (My Story) and Michael Johnson (Gold Rush).

An audience of five people, all women, noted that the books shared a message about the importance of a supportive family, home and community in achieving sporting greatness.

The book reviews opened up a debate about other books, and the group discussed how literature about or by African and Caribbean sporting heroes was often scarce on school library shelves.

The group agreed that successful black sportswomen seemed almost apologetic in their public personas.

Discussion of the factors that prevent black children from succeeding in sport centred on issues such as pressures to be at home to help with domestic chores and a lack of funding.

The group agreed the next steps are to promote sports scholarships, so that young people know what opportunities are available to them, and to encourage communities, schools and families to better support young sportsmen and women.

Ms Burke said she hoped a teacher would attend the next meeting.

“Schools need to be aware that someone cares and that teachers have an extended support network,” she explained.

The revised reading list, which will include a number of books by black sportswomen, will be circulated to schools in the area.

As part of Black History Month, BHCWL is hosting an art exhibition, Victory, at the PM Gallery, Ealing until November 3.

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