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Hill’s 1976 bronze put into perspective by Duffy

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Congratulations to Flora Duffy and to all the Olympians. Her third Olympics, coming in ranked No 1 in the world, then finishing two minutes behind the gold medal-winner after a gruelling 1hr 58min was in itself a significant achievement, placing her firmly as a world-class elite athlete.

Shelley Pearson just missing advancement to the consolation semi-final by a hundredth of a second in the women's single sculls was also a high achievement.

Collins Smith, who is an akido instructor these days, narrowly missed out on a medal back in the early 1970s in karate, although that was at the World Championships in California and not at the Olympics. But for most of our athletes just to qualify and compete in the Olympic Games is a crown in their careers.

With Flora, Bermuda and the sports world knew she had the substance to win a medal, therefore her eighth place, while extremely good, came with a tinge of disappointment, which I am sure after years of training and her successes competing in international events, no one felt more than Flora herself.

The standard of competition at the Olympics draws the best in the world, so to get on the medal podium proves the rank of the individual medal-winner among their contemporaries.

Perhaps it is a time to recognise again the achievement of Clarence Hill, who remains Bermuda's sole medal-winner and whose accomplishments back in 1976 placed him as one of the best in the world. No fair comparison can be drawn to the Cuban great Teófilo Stevenson the Cuban, because he was denied the opportunity to box professionally, but we can all remember what became of the young Cassius Clay after he won the gold medal in 1960.

We did celebrate Clarence when he won the bronze medal, but we also know a cloud of bad personal choices followed his Olympic success, which deprived him of the full recognition and glory of a national hero.

The public morality test is understandable, as many in the world such as Tiger Woods — and now the 12-times Olympic medal-winner Ryan Lochte, the American swimmer who faces similar issues after his desecration of a public bathroom then lying to the authorities — saw their sports persona diminish overnight in the wake of a lapse in judgment.

All the glory in the American swim team, the Ryan Lochte case has now turned to lesser glory, with huge questions lingering over his endorsements worth millions of dollars.

It's 40 years later and Clarence Hill is now near the status of senior citizen.

His incarcerations are in the distant past and he has become a religiously transformed man. What do we do to his Olympic legacy, which indeed is our legacy as a country also? Do we let the dark clouds continue to cover the bright light of his performance? Understanding the fragility of life after 60, do we allow this man to face his final abode embittered by rejection?

I do not know what the answer should be, but I do assert that his Olympic success should not be somewhat hidden.

Perhaps a fund can be started to erect a statue of him at the grounds of the Pembroke Youth Centre or the roundabout near by.

We need to inspire future generations to emulate and hopefully outdo his Olympic success.

Bermuda's pride: The Island's only Olympic medallist Clarence Hill. The heavyweight boxer fought his way to bronze in the 1976 Montreal Games, to make Bermuda the least populous country ever to win an Olympic medal
Hero remembered: perhaps it is time to recognise again the achievement of Clarence Hill

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Published August 23, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 23, 2016 at 12:30 am)

Hill’s 1976 bronze put into perspective by Duffy

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