Changing Allegiance to Compete: Ottey

Merlene Ottey Competes at age 50 in an international event, but not for her country, Jamaica…instead it’s for Slovenia. I wouldn’t have guessed that one in a million years. It brings up several questions regarding changing allegiance in order to compete which have been debated in the sports world very strongly.

I find this story both compelling and somehow a bit questionable. That’s not the right word for the feeling it gives me, but unsettling, disturbing or annoying all seemed to strong.

Certainly I support anyone continuing to compete in their local community, let alone on the global level in the field of athletics which certainly takes dynamic energy but also endurance and hard work.

Without a doubt there immediately surfaced questions of steroid or performance enhancement drugs usage by Merlene Ottey. There cannot NOT be such questions raised because of the demands running of this type places on the body, and the muscles naturally lose strength as they age. It’s noted her personal best is now a second slower than in the mid 90’s when she was at her arguable best. That still makes her faster than some others enough to gain a slot on a team.

But just because most other athletes in similar fields have long since retired and gone onto other fields, doesn’t mean if some had continued to train, they might have kept going. Genetics has a lot to do with it also. There have been many studies made of athletes who continue far after most of their peers have fallen to the side. Lance Armstrong, for one. Hm, controversial as he is. Another one people like to claim he MUST use performance enhancing drugs of some kind to keep going.

I’m all for Ottey to keep competing as she wishes. If she can meet requirements and turn in comparatively fast times, there is no reason why she should stop if she wants to keep going. The one question I do have is her competing for the Slovenia national team. It’s a really debatable subject these days, especially in a World Cup year where some players quickly changed (and were assisted to change) nationally affiliation in order to compete. This goes on quite a lot these days.

A comment from a poster on Eurosport:

“Very impressed wit Merlene Ottey and her ability to­ still compete at this level at 50. She is obviously an­ amazing ahtlete and an insirpational role model who­ shows what can be achieved through hard work and­ dedication. BUT, why is a Jamaican allowed to compete­ for Slovenia? I do not understand thes changing your­ alliegance to compete for whichever country will have­ you or pay you or who do not have enough athletes of­ sufficient class of their own to filed a team of tru­ nationals. I understand her desire to continue­ competing and that by Jamaican standards she is­ probably now not 1st string as they have many talented­ athletes who are younger, fitter and faster, but I­ still don’t think it is right. Sheis Jamaican and­ should only, therefore be eligible to represent­ Jamaica, just like any other athlete should only be­ allowed to represent their true home nation. It makes a­ mockery of having a national team.”

I can’t say that I don’t in some ways agree with what he says. For myself, having dual citizenship USA and Germany, I could honestly compete for either were I in the situation to do so, though I would only choose to do so for Germany. Legitimately so. My young teen son could also do so, though he is American citizen only at this point, but his other parent is of German ancestry and they have a whole clan of relatives slightly west of Berlin, grandparents, etc.

A few years ago the gentleman father of my very good friend, and I were discussing the Bundesliga, and he said he thought it was absurd they had so many “foreigners” playing in the league especially when there were as many great German players being turned aside. I agreed with that idea, although I pointed out and gave him a different thought he hadn’t considered (and he reasonably then agreed with me) that when you had the bi- or multi-racial children with a German parent even if their skin was brown, they were as German as the Russian-German players (for example) who had pale skin. I made this comment because he remarked on the number of brown-skinned German players on one team.

Yet when you have someone with no affiliation, ancestry or connection to a country except the offer of money and a new citizenship changing their status and given a place on the national team, I don’t agree with it, although I can sympathize with the individual. Giving that spot to them is cutting out a place for someone FROM the country competing in their place. Someone who could run as competitively fast. It’s no wonder a number of people from countries like this are becoming more disgruntled with immigrants. I don’t excuse any aggression, but it is a factor. One would be self-delusional not to consider granting someone like Ottey on the national team might affect the attitude of citizens negatively.

I love seeing Ottey compete. It brings me back to past days, when as a child and young teen to adult I watched her in competitions over the years. I cannot say I agree with her competing for another country in this way, no affiliation.

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