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JAMAICA - Ben Johnson


Date July 20, 2005


by PHILIP SPOONER

WHEN BEN JOHNSON'S AROUND you have to laugh.

And not just any big shot laugh "ho ho ho", or a middle class laugh "he he he". It has to be an old-fashioned, ordinary class belly-full of laughter.

Johnson has an infectious humour and his jovial nature keeps everyone around him in a joyous mood. And that is why, 15 years after leaving the track where he was the world's fastest man, the 43-year-old still has a lot of fans.

"I like to have fun. I was always a guy who liked a lot of fun and nothing has really changed," said Johnson.

He was in Barbados last weekend for the Kevin Weekes Golf Classic, which was played at the Barbados Golf Club, Durants, Christ Church, and the Country Club course at Sandy Lane.

Fun on the greens

Actually, Johnson proved not to be the best of players, but he had West Indies cricket legend Desmond Haynes, another cheerful soul, as his playing mate, and they had a lot of fun-filled exchanges on the greens.

"Good try Ben," Haynes said when Johnson hit a ball way off the course and away from the eighth hole where it was intended.

"Nice try Des, nice trying to cheer me up," was Johnson's reply.

"Guess try was a strong word," Haynes said. And they went on to the next hole.

"You're a great guy, Des," Johnson added.

Jamaican-born

So that's what Johnson is up to years after running the 100 metres in less than ten seconds and being the toast of not just his Canadian countrymen, but Caribbean people as well. He was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada as a teenager.

Apart from having fun, he also launched the BenJohnsonCollection.com clothing line from his studios in Toronto.

"Right now I'm a clothing guy," he said with a rich Jamaican accent. "It includes sportswear, casual wear, urban wear and shoes for men and women. I always loved clothes even when I was on the track and I always had a keen interest in having my own line."

In his heyday, Johnson was among an elite group of fast men, including Carl Lewis and Linford Christie, who often stunned the world with super human performances.

"Those were the days," he said. "But I'm delighted to see my fellow Jamaicans doing so well on the track today and taking some of the titles away from the Americans.

"I'm extremely delighted to see Asafa Powell breaking the world record and it's great to see the world record (9.77 seconds) in the hands of a Caribbean man.

"I think Asafa can improve a lot more, he can go faster. Based on what I have seen of his technique and his mechanics he can go faster. I want him to go all the way."

philipspooner@

nationnews.com




 

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