JIS News

Since Jamaica first entered the Olympics in 1948 it has produced numerous medalists, most of whom have participated in track and field.
Herb McKenley, Dr. Arthur Wint, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell and Usain Bolt are some of the Jamaicans in this exclusive group.
However there is also the often overlooked David Weller, who, at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia (capital of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)), gave Jamaica its only non-track and field medal at the Olympics.
Recently JIS caught up with the cycling Bronze medalist to find out how life after cycling has treated him.
“I recently moved back to Florida to assume a role as a Director for one of the world’s largest commercial aircraft leasing companies after a stint in Jamaica as the Vice President of Maintenance and Engineering at Air Jamaica,” he tells JIS News.
Continuing, Mr. Weller who has been an aviation professional for close to 30 years, mostly for major United States airlines informs “my responsibilities are to trade and profitably manage multi-million dollar aircraft assets to and from large airline customers. I most recently was instrumental in placing Air Jamaica’s new A319 in its fleet.”
Despite this significant responsibility, the former Olympian still finds time for cycling and is currently working with another Jamaican on a number of development programmes for cycling and sports in general.
“I have renewed my connections with Andrew Phillips, one of Jamaica’s most successful male swimmers, who is coaching in Miami and together we are exploring various swimming, cycling and triathlon development programmes,” he discloses before reflecting on the significance of his achievement some 29 years ago.
“Time has proven the significance of my achievement as no one would ever have given a skinny little boy from Jamaica a chance to be one of the best athletes in the world in the largely European dominated sport of cycling,” he remarks.
“While I felt on top of the world in 1980, the reality of my achievement grows more valuable each year as I get older and I am proud to have been a part of writing Jamaica’s sports history in the company of many other famous Jamaican trailblazers in sports,” he further enthuses.
But all of this almost never happened as in 1980 when David competed, the Cold War was still raging and Jamaica at one point decided to boycott the games.
“Jamaica had originally chosen to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in support of the United States opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan but reconsidered the decision shortly before our departure for Moscow,” he recalls.
This decision by Jamaica he asserts gives his Bronze medal more personal meaning as it represents for him, “a unique milestone in Jamaica’s history where a gigantic negative turned into a positive because of the independent thinking of a Government and self-determination against obstacles of various types.”
Because of the backdrop of the Cold War and its historical significance he is sentimental about having competed in the USSR and “being a part of an era from the history books and experiencing the unique culture that was behind the iron curtain.”
David adds that the most outstanding thing for him in 1980 was the stoic nature of the Soviet people in public, which became friendly when they were made to feel comfortable.
“Travelling with people of colour from Jamaica was something that seemed novel to the Soviet people as the barriers to mixing of the races was not readily accepted despite the influx of Africans as the Soviets flexed their might in other parts of the world. I enjoyed my experience of being a part of a very special Olympics and appreciate it more now as I get older,” he declares.
However it was not all fun and games as David had to overcome a number of obstacles. Among them was limited resources on his journey to the 1980 Olympics.
“My mother was a single parent supporting three children and early in my career she had to mortgage our home to cover travel expenses and I got contributions from friends and family in order that I could compete overseas,” he reveals.
“Prior to 1980, I remember not being able to feed myself properly while studying abroad and I worked in a bicycle shop on Saturdays earning a measly US$70 per week. It was the owner of that bicycle shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who paid for my cycling equipment that was to be repaid out of my weekly earnings,” he continues.
According to David, most of the cycling equipment that he used in Moscow was financed or loaned by the Florida bicycle shop and it was fortunate that he did well as after his performance at the Olympics, the debt for the equipment was forgiven for a signed autographed picture of himself that was hung in the bicycle shop.
As it relates to what local cycling authorities can do to improve the sport in Jamaica he advises that “the Jamaica Cycling Federation should return to development basics at the community and club levels.”
“They need to develop a multi-year business plan that can inspire corporate confidence and endowments. The notion that building a cycling facility will produce champions will not materialise in our lifetime and the fact that cycling success requires years of investing time and money, we have not yet begun the journey,” David further opines.
He encourages youngsters who are interested in pursuing cycling to “stay focused on the dream, think beyond what you can live and feel at the moment. Become educated in your sport and devote your lifestyle to being the best athlete you can be. Winning is only a small part of greatness. Above all, remember the Olympic Creed, in the words of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympics: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

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