ATHLETICS GREAT Colin Jackson could have been a cricket all-rounder – but he claims he wasn’t picked for teams based on his skin colour.
The global Black Lives Matters movement – which gained worldwide exposure following the killing of George Floyd by US police officers – has forced Welshman Jackson to think of his own life experiences.
Jackson, a former 110m hurdles world-record holder, is supporting the ‘500 Words: Black Lives Matter’ competition which is open this week for aspiring young writers.
And asked what he would have written in an essay on childhood racism, Jackson relayed this pivotal moment in his sporting life while growing up in Cardiff.
One significant incident forced Jackson to swap cricket for track-and-field, a decision that resulted in an Olympic silver medal and two world titles.
Jackson, 53, told SunSport: “I was scarred (by racism) when I was younger.
“I suffered it when I wasn’t selected for teams – and I felt it was because of the colour of my skin.
“I was 13 years old. It’s pretty obvious if you’re the captain of the school’s cricket team and five of you are going for the Welsh national trials.
“They selected four of us and left one out – and that one was me.
“I accepted that was the reason why. It’s the first time I had experienced racism in a sporting context. It was a shock.
“That’s why I chose athletics. If I crossed the line first, then I knew I’d be going on the team.
“In athletics, you’ve always seen black people perform at the highest level. It was a safe place to be. You were only judged on your performances.”
UK children aged between five and 13 years old have been encouraged to submit creative writing pieces for ‘500 Words: Black Lives Matter’ before Friday’s deadline.
It was launched by presenters Angellica Bell and Michael Underwood and is a special version of the children’s writing competition originally devised by renowned DJ Chris Evans.
The winners will be invited to join Evans on his Virgin Radio Breakfast Show on Friday July 17.
Jackson said: “Let’s see what the youngsters really think about the stories of Black Lives Matter.
“This is a powerful insight into how young people are getting information and absorbing it.
“It’s special and unique. It was an obvious thing for me to get involved with – to give young people a voice.
“I’m hoping we get the purity of youth and they share their stories.
“Black Lives Matter to me is my daily experience as a black man.
“We’re hoping everybody can understand now and all we want is equality and fairness.
“Don’t be ashamed of history, it’s the history of the country, but let’s understand it and then we can move on. And let’s call out racism whenever we see it. ”
Entries for the 500 Words: Black Lives Matter competition can now be submitted at www.500Words.me