Marathon to provide free insurance for Jamaica's Tokyo Olympic medalists

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

For athletes heading to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, winning medals would rank high on their list of priorities. For every Jamaican athlete who medals at the Tokyo Games, there is now an even greater incentive as anyone who wins a medal will get a bonus of free insurance for one year.

This latest incentive is one of the benefits from a recent partnership inked between the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and Marathon Insurance Brokers Limited. The partnership is valued at J$12 million and will run for the three-year period leading up to the 2024 Olympic Games.

In reference to the benefits, Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO, JOA, gave a broader perspective of the deal that was announced nearly one week ago.

“The JOA/Marathon partnership was centred around expanding our member services to our associations. For far too long we have looked at sport as just attending Games, but have not done enough to tap into the sport as an avenue for social change,” he said.

“One of the benefits of this partnership is for the direct benefit of our athletes for which all medalists at the Olympic Games will receive free insurance for one year. This is in addition to the comprehensive coverage that Marathon will be providing for all members attending the Olympic Games.”

Marathon Insurance has had a long partnership with the JOA, dating back to the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. This time they will be diving further into the deal with the JOA to deliver projects that involve the Athlete’s Commission and female empowerment through the Women’s Commission.

“The partnership has gone even further as Marathon will be partnering with the JOA and the Women’s Commission and Athlete Commission on various social projects geared towards, including, at-risk girls in sport and the expansion of Olympism values in schools,” Foster shared.

“All of these initiatives will be funded under this partnership and will involve the JOA engaging in providing not just mentoring and educational activities, but will involve nutritional support, school fees and school materials for the selected young athletes."

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    Eight of Jamaica's leading prospects in the sport, along with their horses, participated in the development programme that saw the JOA and EFJ partnering with Samantha Albert, who represented Jamaica in the equestrian discipline of Eventing at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

    Samantha currently resides in the UK and coaches young athletes for British Eventing, but jumped at the opportunity to run a series of training programmes to impart her knowledge and expertise and give back to local equestrians.

    The primary target of the first JOA Elite Training series, which was held at the Kingston Polo Club recently involved developing and coaching a local talent squad in three disciplines - show jumping, dressage and cross-country.

    “It's a proud moment for me to see this partnership between a Jamaican Olympian, the JOA and equestrians. This is the beginning of structured local squad training and by offering this calibre of international expertise on the island we will raise the standard and work towards the bigger picture," offered EFJ President, Heidi Lalor.

    "While continuity remains key, the JOA Elite riders also gained invaluable knowledge to further progress themselves and their horses to achieve their goals,” Lalor added of the three-day exercise.

    The course was open to eligible athletes of the national federation who have serious aspirations to train and compete for Jamaica and Novelette Harris, the JOA's Member Relations Manager (with responsibility for education and training), reaffirmed the JOA's goal to advance talent in all sports.

    “The JOA remains committed to providing the necessary support and resources to actualize our mission to grow the sport and sporting talent across all disciplines within our membership,” Harris said.

    "In this regard, we are pleased to have partnered with the Equestrian Federation of Jamaica in hosting this elite training programme for local equestrians and look forward to their continued advancement and development into an Olympic squad,” she added.

    Riders were put through their paces with various training techniques, along with forward planning discussions offering personalised tactical advice and 'homework' for the riders and their horses. They had the added benefit of an international course on home soil with the purpose of further bridging the gap between national and international competition, and ultimately a Jamaican Olympic team.

    Denise Cole Avril, one of the elite participants, said the programme was "very intensive and a great experience".

    "Samantha brought another eye to my training and allowed me to see some things that I may have been missing myself that automatically improved my riding skill," she noted. "Our training with Samantha allowed me to explore my options with respect to competing at the regional and international levels and the qualifications, as well as the commitment to get there.

    Continuing, Cole Avril added: "Samantha was very effective, knowledgeable and easy to work with. She was very open-minded and was happy to get our feedback throughout the process. The knowledge and experience that she brought to the table is not only something that our sport needs, but all sports. The support of having someone that has been through the ringer is invaluable. "Thank you to the Equestrian Federation of Jamaica and the Jamaica Olympic Association for this collaboration," she said.

     Lalor noted the combined efforts and its reflection in the show of commitment. "The riders, horses and coach Samantha Albert felt the benefits and saw results by the third day," said Lalor. "This is a testament to the commitment and motivation displayed."

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    The lifetime best 200m time also moved her above Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas as the best active combination sprinter in history by virtue of her times of 10.76 in the 100m, 21.55 and 49.47 in the 400m.

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    “I have been working really hard on running the curve. I wanted to do that and I know that once I ran that curve and execute properly, just to relax down the home stretch, I knew I would have run fast but this fast I never expected it but I am grateful,” she said afterwards.

    The bad news for the rest of the world is that Jackson believes she has even more speed in those powerful legs of hers, the speed that the world is likely to see at the World Athletics Championships that begin in Eugene, Oregon on July 15.

    “The curve is one of the things I want to master. I think I did pretty good tonight. So many mistakes made so I know definitely coach will correct them,” she said.

    “I never wanted to put any pressure on myself. People out there will put pressure but listening to my coach, execute properly, I know I can go faster.”

  • Richards races to 19.83 lifetime best to win 200m at NAAA Championships Richards races to 19.83 lifetime best to win 200m at NAAA Championships

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    On Sunday, he delivered.

    Richards, the 2022 World Indoor 400m champion, sped to a fast 19.83 to win the half-lap sprint on the final day of the championships hence securing his spot to Oregon in July. It was a new lifetime best and the fastest time ever run over the distance on Trinidadian soil.

    The time was run in virtually still but rainy conditions as the trailing wind was measured at 0.3m/s. None of that mattered to Richards, who has been in good form this season. “I was not concerned about the weather. I was just ready to run fast,” said the 28-year-old Richards who is also intent on defending his Commonwealth Games title after the World Championships conclude on July 24.

    Kyle Greaux ran 20.56s for second place while 400m champion Dwight St Hillaire ran 20.68 for third.

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