Monday, 31 December 2012

THE GAME CHANGERS: The Most Profoundly Intriguing Jamaicans of 2012

What a year! As we look back on 2012, one thing is certain: there was never a dull moment. From triumphs in the sporting arena to victories in the realms of media and entertainment to breakthrough moves in politics and science, Jamaicans at home and abroad not only made gains and headlines but laid to rest any doubts that we are a nation like no other. Below, TALLAWAH pays tribute to some of those sterling newsmakers who accomplished in ways entirely their own – and left us all feeling deeply inspired. 

The Olympians and Paralympians: Wonder Women and Men 
Never failing to rise to the occasion and being pride and glory to the country in the international arena, our phenomenal Team Jamaica (led by the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and VCB) stamped their class at the 2012 Summer Games in London, snagging multiple medals, erasing old records, and reminding all challengers that Jamaica is the sprinting powerhouse to beat for years to come. 

Portia Simpson-Miller: The Qualities of a (Conflicted) Leader 
Dogged by critics, who blame her administration for many of Jamaica’s current socio-economic woes, Sista P couldn’t seem to get the respect she’s due. But through it all, the PNP party leader and TIME 100 honoree has remained the epitome of grace and courage under fire, even as she rises above detractors in her quest to make a difference and inspire Jamaicans of all stripes. 

Glen Mills and the Coaches: Nurturing Athletic Excellence 
While schoolboy football coaches Neville Bell and Patrick ‘Jackie’ Walters were busy triumphing on the soccer field, 2012 saw Glen Mills cementing his top-of-the-pile status as the planet’s best sprinting coach and his top Racers athletes (Bolt, Blake and Weir, above) storming the London Olympics with golden, silver and bronze results. The honorary doctorate and the multiple honours capped off the icon’s fantastic year. 

Dahlia Harris: Theatre’s Hit Woman 
Whether celebrating our golden anniversary with the cast and crew of Aston Cooke’s Fifty 2 Rahtid or chronicling a marriage on the rocks in God’s Way 2, Harris stayed busy this year putting Jamaicans and Jamaican stories onstage, showing our fullness and complexity – while snagging an armful of statuettes (Thespy and Actor Boy) for her efforts. Harris’ uncompromised loyalty to her craft makes her expanding oeuvre something truly worth treasuring. 

Alia Atkinson: Swimming’s Fearless Inspiration 
Adding to the prestige of becoming the third ever Jamaican to qualify for an Olympic swimming final, Atkinson put in some astonishing work at the recent Istanbul championships to garner a pair of medals (silver and bronze) for Jamaica. Things can only get better for this fiercely determined competitor. 

Romain Virgo: The Future of Reggae 
Attaining a whole new level of artistic excellence (buoyed by a stellar sophomore album, The System), the gifted singer-songwriter put out message music that not only resonated with his followers but also challenged the status quo, winning him a legion of new admirers. 

Chris Gayle: Shaking up the Cricket World 
The star batsman (and former skipper) made a triumphant return to the West Indies cricket team, helping steer the side to a thrilling victory over longtime rivals Sri Lanka in the final of the World T20 tournament this past October. Once home, Gayle wasted little time spearheading a celebratory bash with all the proceeds benefiting his eponymous foundation. 

Yendi Phillipps: A Queen Comes of Age 
The former Miss Universe runner-up and her musician fiancĂ©, Chino McGregor, may keep the details of their sizzling romance under wraps but there’s no denying the power of their union. When they announced their pregnancy earlier in the year, it sparked a national conversation on pre-marital conception and, expectedly, an outpouring of support and vitriol. In September, the fab duo welcomed their daughter into the nest. Already Yendi is looking forward to another special delivery. “I want a son next,” she told Flair earlier this month. 

The Reporters: In Search of the Next Big Story 
It’s been a banner year for Jamaican journalists, but especially the standouts (Kirk Wright, Dionne Jackson-Miller (right), and The Gleaner’s Tyrone Reid, to name only a few) whose names have become synonymous with award-winning work. Whether they are reporting on key issues (political, health, socio-economic) or criss-crossing the nation to tell the story of what it means to be a Jamaican living in the year of our Golden Jubilee, these intrepid reporters have changed the face of television and print news while chronicling our triumphs and helping to unearth solutions for our national challenges.

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