An object lesson in how to celebrate one of our heroes – now for Clarence’s statue
I was just reeling in the week of activity and the marvellous response that Flora Duffy received from all of Bermuda. In so many ways, Bermuda needs its own applause and pat on the back. National Stadium now bears her name and Corkscrew Hill is now Flora Duffy Hill.
If there was one thing done right in the country, this was it, and the spirit of this celebration will be with this generation for ever.
There is one thing that comes to mind as a result, though: two steps down from that gold-medal podium stood Clarence Hill, our 1976 Olympic bronze medal-winner whose achievement was likewise extraordinary but whose public recognition pales in comparison.
OK, understandably character and example are very important features of establishing national heroes and Clarence would admit to his own folly in that regard — which wasn’t insignificant. But let’s stack the deck properly: boxing champions invariably come from the streets; they usually don’t come from privileged neighbourhoods or homes. They don’t come from the best educational institutions, either; rather more likely dropouts or otherwise misfits, even at the lowliest of levels.
So can’t he just have a statue? I recall attending boxing matches to watch Clarence and the chant in the crowd would be “PYC, PYC”. Can’t we just say “Clarence Hill, PYC”? Let’s look at what will invariably appear in history as an imbalance and correct it now while the light still shines on the issue.
It was good that Flora reached out on her arrival to Clarence and acknowledged that he was her role model as an Olympic standard to achieve for many years. It was good also that Clarence was able to acknowledge that the torch has moved on to a gold medal-winner and that gold will be the new standard for future aspirants.
The country has a role to play in this saga. We have to find parity and balance in the way we acknowledge future accomplishments of individuals on a global level. We had Gina Swainson who was winner and runner-up in Miss World and Miss Universe respectively. It has been almost 40 years since, underpinning how hard these feats are to achieve again, so we must recognise them all for what they were.
I would like to repeat my congratulations to Flora for all her outstanding global performances that make her the champion of champions and the queen of the triathlon. I also would congratulate all of Bermuda for the tremendous response it gave her. Now I would ask that we reach deep into our collective conscience and find a way to, post-event, give balanced response to Clarence to avoid future historians viewing this generation’s actions in this regard suspiciously.