Olympian Marion Jones receives Royal Treatment

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 3            January 18, 2001

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"Overwhelming" was the word she used to describe her reception in Belize as US Olympic athlete Marion Jones visited this country last week. Referred to as the "fastest woman in the world," she is the first woman athlete to ever win five medals in a single Olympic meet, taking home three gold (100 and 200 meters, and the 4 x 400 meter relay) and two bronze medals (long jump and 4 x 100 meter relay). Carrying the US flag, after winning one of her many medals in Sydney, she was making her victory lap when a fan handed her the Belizean flag and Jones proudly took it and raised both flags as she continued her victory celebration. By the time she finished her triumphant run at the Olympic stadium she had won the hearts of all residents of this country. On her arrival to Belize an extremely warm and welcoming crowd greeted this young lady as people lined road sides and streets everywhere she went. From her touchdown on Tuesday at Philip Goldson International Airport to her motorcade and stops around Belize City, she received the best Belizean reception anyone could ask for.

    Many honors were bestowed on young Marion Jones, who was accompanied by her mother Marion (a Belizean) and brother Albert. Mayor David Fonseca presented her with the "key" to Belize City just shortly after her arrival. On Wednesday, her name was given to the national stadium now deemed the Marion Jones Sporting Complex. Barely losing her broad smiles over this, she was awarded that evening with the prestigious Order of Belize by Prime Minister Said Musa. She has also been named a Sports Ambassador for Belize.

    Marion has been visiting her mother's homeland since the age of eleven when they first visited her uncle in the Cayo District. She has made many return trips, most recently with her husband to visit her many family members here. Speaking of her past, Marion claimed her older brother was responsible for her initial running efforts as she had to run twice as hard to keep up with him. She credits her mother's love for her drive and determination. Marion's love for sports combined with a vigorous training schedule that keeps her busy more than four hours per day, six days a week, is the reason she has the strength to be a winner.

    Marion's itinerary in Belize led her to a number of schools throughout the districts in a few short days. She spent an impressive amount of time with Belize's youth encouraging them to believe in themselves and to keep trying. Asked about carrying Belize's flag in a live radio interview she stated that by being "half Belizean" she "wanted to show support for the Belizean in me." In a press conference before she left, she vowed her commitment to improve and support Belize's athletes in any way she could, even extending an invitation to visit her and attend meets. She stated this visit "will stand out in my memory as one of my best trips ever-" mostly because of the wonderful people, their support and friendly reception. Overwhelming.

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