It will become the scene of both her most fulfilling and horrific experiences, but for the Olympian, it was the moment that defined her for the rest of her life. “That one was the pinnacle, because once you are an Olympian, you will always be an Olympian. That is something no one can ever take away from you. I was proud to represent my country,” said Sharpe during a recent chat with The Gleaner. A great accomplishment for a bright-eyed 16 year-old; still, the Munich Olympics, which were ironically marketed as ‘The Happy Games’, will be mostly remembered for the killing of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by a group of Palestinian terrorists who had taken them hostage. Sharpe reminisced on the scenes in the Athletes Village and how that incident not only changed the mood of the Games, but also her own perspective. “I remember probably more than I want to remember from it. We could see the terrorist standing outside on the balcony with his gun because of the way the village was set out,” she shared. “The mood of the Games changed. The last time it was held in Germany, it was held in Berlin, and the whole thing with Jesse Owens and (Adolf) Hitler, and so Germany was going out of their way to try and make this a comfortable, friendly games, and that’s how we felt about it.” The extra security detail and the jubilant reactions to the false news that the hostages had been freed are all still fresh in her mind. “I was going through the line at breakfast and I had a smile on my face and the lady that was serving me breakfast she said ‘You don’t know do you? Nobody knows.’ “And I said, ‘Know what?’ And she said, ‘They were all killed.” What didn’t die for Sharpe, is the resolve that she developed from that experience. “Its not something that I usually tell people. I don’t believe in tooting my own horn from that point of view. There is something inside of me that no one can take away from me; I know what my accomplishments are, I just feel like I can hold myself up so high from the experience of being an Olympian, and I always have that self confidence and that’s what reaching that level of sports gives you – you know who you are,” she beamed. This summer, she will have company in the chronicles of Jamaican diving history with Yona Knight-Wisdom set to carve his name beside hers as Jamaican diving Olympian after his qualification to the Rio Olympic Games. MUNICH 1972 In 1966, a Gleaner article declared: “Jamaicans are naturally athletic and agile people, and we could produce divers of world class if more attention was paid to this aspect of swimming.” This bold proclamation was made just after 10 year-old Betsy Sullivan had represented Jamaica in 3m diving competition at the 1966 Commonwealth Games held in Kingston. ” … at that age you kind of know no fear. Whatever is there to do you just do it. Life is just for living at that age, you’re enjoying yourself and having a great time, totally oblivious to the fact I had qualified to a games at age 10 and the magnitude of what that meant. I was just an average 10 year-old playing with my friends, having a good time,” she remembered. “I wasn’t there to win, I didn’t have any expectations at that age, it was just a good experience and I really enjoyed it.” Six years down the road, the then – teenager, Sullivan – now Betsy Sharpe, became the first Jamaican to qualify for the Olympics in the diving event.
After 2 monthsEmployees of the Local Government Commission (LGC) have finally been paid, after waiting for over two months for the Communities Ministry to release the monies.This was confirmed by a commissioner of the constitutional agency on Friday, who noted that while the payments were disbursed, concerns are still being raised as to why the Commission has not been aligned to the Fiscal Management and Authority Act, so as to acquire control of its financial expenditures.Without this document, there are inaccuracies in the salaries which are set aside for some commissioners, since this amount was a temporary fix until the amendment was intact. Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan was responsible for ensuring that all legislations were in place when the Commission was established.“They paid what was owed but they never paid what was budgeted for us for 2019. I think the issue with which budget agency we’re under was just because they didn’t want to pay us proper salaries. Some of the staff are being paid way above the public service while some of the commissioners are still given a small salary, like a stipend,” the commissioner said.The commissioner questioned why the LGC is recognised as a constitutional agency but not as one which can manage its finances.“What was budgeted for us was never paid. From the time the Commission was sworn in, we were receiving this payment because although we are a constitutional agency, the Communities Minister was supposed to do a simple amendment to ensure that we are aligned to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. Although the 2019 budget was approved, they refused to give us. How are we recognised for everything as a constitutional body, but we’re not recognised for payments,” the commissioner added.This issue was brought to the fore some weeks ago, to which Chairman of the Commission, Mortimer Mingo, explained that the Permanent Secretary of the Communities Ministry, Emil McGarrell, refused to countersign documents to release funds for salaries and other expenses.“It then became apparent, by a way of a letter received by the Commission from the Deputy Permanent Secretary… that the Ministry was not in agreement with the level of pay that the Commission’s staff was receiving, since according to the letter, these salaries were not in keeping with the traditional public sector emoluments,” Mingo had said.As such, the LGC opted to settle the matter through a meeting with McGarell on January 28, but the Permanent Secretary did not withdraw his decision not to sign the documents.This sparked some controversy with former Local Government Minister, Ganga Persaud who placed the blame on Bulkan, stating that operations were stymied due to the withholding of funds.“If this Government can react to its Commission and the 27 staff members that it has done, then I think it is really unjust. It is a travesty and an injustice against the working people of this country. It is a crime against humanity,” Persaud had told Guyana Times.According to Persaud, this move is aimed at leaving the Commission with no other option but to relinquish its responsibilities to the Ministry, another way for Government to take control of local democratic organs. All entities under the Commission are also deprived of payments for this time.Persaud said to rectify this issue, the Commission must be duly established to function as any other constitutional body.