Gifted Children Overcome the Hurdles

By 1952 the Republic of Panama’s official population had been disclosed as 801,982- not quite one million.  Most of the athletic triumphs, however, were coming from the townships of the Silver People and from the cities of Panama and Colon.

By 1951 and 1952 names like Carlota Gooden (1951 Athlete of the Year), Frank Prince (track), Frank Austin (pro-baseball), Reinaldo Grenald (amateur baseball), Alfonzo Frazer (basketball), Federico Plummer (boxing), and, of course, Lloyd LaBeach who brought home to Panama Olympic bronze in the London Olympic Games of 1948, were making headlines both in Panama and abroad.  An incredible wealth of talent was wrapped up in the Silver Roll communities and terminal cities of Panama and Colon despite the many hurdles placed before them.

The track and field champions alone have seen very few changes from the days of Carlota Gooden who, by the tender age of fifteen, was already named Athlete of the Year by La Hora newspaper for winning the 50 and 100 meter championship in the III Bolivarian Games in Caracas, Venezuela.

An interesting article in a recent issue of La Prensa’s Ellas magazine reveals the cruel reality of the adverse conditions many of these gifted children have to train under and still be expected to outshine their rivals in international competitions.

Ricardo Sasso, president of the Panamanian Athletic Federation remarked sadly, “Our athletes, primarily in the interior of the country, have to train in improvised dust covered running tracks composed of sand, some of which look more like horse pastures than real track fields.  To this you might add the lack of adequate trainers and equipment which is a problem that has been coming for years.”

These terrible hurdles, however, have not dampened the spirit of our athletes somehow.  On the contrary, they seem to glow with enthusiasm and a fine sense of patriotism to do their utmost and bring home the glory for their homeland, Panama.  Not even the shenanigans of Pandeporte, which, until recently, has seemed to be on a mission of sabotage against its own children putting all types of impediments in their way and making life generally much harder as they attempt to prepare themselves for Olympic competition, has held them back from shining.

Not only Carlota Gooden but Loraine Dunn, Jean Holmes and Marcela Daniels would, seven years later in 1959, win the 4×100 relay in Chicago, Ill., bringing home the Silver medal to a jubilant Silver community.

We will catch up later with Carlota Gooden who eventually went on to become Carlota Gooden de Phillips and dedicate herself to training young women in Rainbow City High School.

This story continues.

6 responses to “Gifted Children Overcome the Hurdles

  1. Wow! Mrs Phillips was my Gym teacher at Rainbow City Jr. High School. I remember her as slim , elegant,dainty and very quick with words. A very serious and stern teacher, she accepted no excuses. With her as coach, we practiced gymnastics, track, tennis, volleyball,swimming at the pool,etc.

    One day, I tried to get away from practicing and told her a sad story. Mrs Phillips looked me straight in the eye and said to me, “It is not a catastrophe.” Later I had to go home and look up that word in Webster’s dictionary and the Spanish translation of the same word in the Larousse. Mrs Phillips was just telling me not to come to her with any sappy story because she was not buying it. Her face said, “Go and put on your gym clothes and stop the nonsense.” End of story.LOL. Thanks for the information about her. I never knew she was a star athlete. Mrs Phillips was a wonderful teacher.


  2. I also recall fondly how Mrs Phillips convinced me to jump into the deepest end of the pool; and as I nervously swam right back up, she ran to the other side and cheered me on as I swam bravely from one end of the pool to the other. Tantas memorias bellas!

  3. Miles de gracias por los recuerdos!!!
    AnaPatricia Hartley

  4. So proud of my grandmother. She is a strong and inspiring individual I have the honor to call grandmother. I Love You!

  5. Hello Carlos,

    We are happy to hear from the grandson of a most honorable and talented lady, Carlota Gooden. Please send us an update on her life, if you would share with us, by “contact” sheet (click the contact tab above). Thank you!!!

  6. Beresford Adams

    Knew her from La Boca.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *