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Jamaica widen the net

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Jamaica widen the net

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?ALTHOUGH?world renownED for track and field, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) would like to see athletes in other disciplines qualifying for the Olympic Games and getting on the medal podium.
JOA first vice-president Don Anderson said a team of 90 would be going to the London 2012 Olympic Games, but more than half would be in track and field. Two swimmers, and one athlete each from equestrian and taekwondo have also qualified.
While he was taking in the activities of the Barbados Olympic Association’s celebration of Olympic Day last Saturday at Brown’s Beach, Anderson said they were concerned that several other sports weren’t up to standard.
“We have been looking at ways and means by which we can broaden our medal winning chances, not only in the sprints but in the field events in track and field, and outside of track and field in the other events,” he said.
“We have qualified a boxer and a cyclist in the past, and we are hoping that come next Olympic Games we can have six or seven disciplines and to grow it from there.”
That cyclist, David Weller, won a bronze medal in the men’s 1K individual pursuit at the 1980 Games in Moscow, but cycling, like several other sports, has had issues concerning governance.
“It has been like many of the associations, up and down. We are all volunteers, and it is dependent on the vagaries of who is in the administration and so on,” he said.
“We have had challenges with a number of sporting associations. There is no question that across the board there is the absence of facilities and the financial resources to run the things because everybody is a volunteer.
“There are those management challenges that we have encountered. From our perspective, we try to work with them through our various sports administration courses to beef up and help the respective associations, but it is always a challenge.”
Anderson said preparations for London were well underway and everyone in Jamaica was awaiting the June 28 to July 1 National Championships in athletics.
“That’s going to be a cracker. Everybody has to turn up and we are going on the same basis: one, two, three, you qualify, if you don’t, you’re not there and it goes for everybody. Therefore, everybody is coming to Nationals to perform.”
He did not quantify the costs associated with the trip to the Olympics, but said they had several sponsors, while PUMA continues to sponsor their clothing and will outfit the team.
“We do have good sponsorship. We have a number of key sponsors that have come to the table and assisted us. There is funding from the Olympic Movement as well, Olympic Solidarity for travel for the athletes and there is, of course, no cost for staying in the [Olympic] Village.
The revenue raised in this Olympic year also goes towards funding what Anderson called the less glamorous meets such as the Pan American and Commonwealth Games over the next four years.
Team Jamaica will attend a training camp from July 15 to 26 in Birmingham before going to the Olympic Village.