Jamaica Olympic Association's Equipment Grant Scheme bearing sweet fruit

By Sports Desk January 10, 2022

The initiative by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to invest millions into its equipment grant is bearing fruit with a number of member associations making use of the funds.

Financing for the program that provides funding for sporting associations to acquire equipment deemed critical to building capacity for sport and the performance of athletes, was made possible by way of a three-year partnership worth $45 million with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL).

Seventeen member associations have so far benefitted, including the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) and the Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JAGA).  The Jamaica Golf Association, Jamaica Karate, Jamaica Bobsleigh, and Skeleton Federation also benefitted from the initiative as well as the Jamaica Cricket Association and the Jamaica Wrestling Federation.

In recent times, the ASAJ had been in desperate need of new lane lines for the national swimming pool at Independence Park Limited, as the ones that were in use had deteriorated so badly over the years, swimmers were at risk of injury whether during practice or competition.

However, the cost of replacing them – more than US$16,000 – proved prohibitive, which has been further impacted by the onset of the pandemic.

ASAJ President Martin Lyn explained that the JOA came to their aid after he outlined the challenges the association faced in acquiring new lane lines.

“The previous ones that we had, over time, deteriorated so that were sharp edges so swimmers could possibly get cut or bruised if they came in contact with the lane lines while swimming. So, the lane lines were very important for us and we simply could not afford to purchase them ourselves,” Lyn said.

“I approached the JOA. They not only helped but they paid for all of the lane lines. So the equipment grant was very helpful to the ASAJ. It is something that will be used for many years before we will need new lane lines.”

Lyn also explained that the new lane lines give the association some flexibility as it relates to their usage.

“Some of the lane lines that we now have can be used for both training and competition. They can also be used as a cordon for water polo. It was a very big help. We really appreciate the JOA partnering with us to ensure that our young athletes benefit.”

The gymnastics association has also lauded the JOA for their help via the grant in acquiring some important pieces of equipment that would help the athletes upgrade their skills.

“The JOA has been so supportive and serious about developing sports in Jamaica. They have assisted us with the purchase of three air vents for the gymnasium valued over $300,000 and also much-needed landed foam blocks to complete our landing pit to the tune of $1.5m,” said the association’s president Nicole Grant.

“We desperately needed the landing mats to help upgrade the gymnasts’ skills to prepare them for the Central American Championships and the Pan American Hopes Tournament later this year. We have already seen improvement in our gymnasts as they continue to train towards these events.” 

Grant said the initiative is yet another feather in the cap of the JOA that has been supportive of her fledgling association.

“We are truly thankful and grateful to the JOA because they have demonstrated time and again that their job is way beyond just sending teams to Games and the Olympics but helping with the development from the grassroots levels and educating our gymnasts and administrators through their various programs and scholarships that we have been on the receiving end of,” Grant said.

“Through the JOA, Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is currently in Europe pursuing a Masters in Sports Administration and I have recently completed the Diploma in Advance Sports Management conducted by the JOA. It’s definitely a blessing to be affiliated to such an institution that demonstrates time and again that assisting with the holistic development of a sport is necessary to achieve its ultimate goals.”

 

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    Thompson-Herah had a phenomenal 2021 season, which included her winning the 100m at the Diamond League final in Zurich and running 10.54 at the Eugene Diamond League to become the fastest woman alive and second fastest woman of all time.

    Her greatest achievement in 2021, however, would have to be when she became the first woman in history to win the sprint double at consecutive Olympic Games.

    Backing up her exploits from Rio in 2016, Thompson-Herah produced times of 10.61 and 21.53 to win gold medals in both the 100m and 200m at the Tokyo Olympics, in addition to being a part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team, alongside Briana Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished as runner-up for the Sportswoman of the Year award, and Shericka Jackson, that won the gold medal in a national record 41.02.

    Parchment shocked the world to win gold in the Men’s 110m Hurdles in Tokyo, nine years after his bronze medal performance at the London Olympics.

    He ran 13.04 to win gold in Tokyo ahead of prohibitive favourite Grant Holloway of the USA.

    The past student of Morant Bay High and Kingston College was also third at the Diamond League final in Zurich.

    His teammate Ronald Levy, who was the runner-up for the Sportsman of the Year Award, took home the bronze medal in Tokyo.

    Other major awards given out on the day include the Chairman's Award to veteran journalist Lance Whittaker; the People's Choice "Performance of the Year Award" to Fraser McConnell; the VM Group Y.O.U.T.H Award to sprinter Tina Clayton and the Gleaner Newspaper Iconic Award to Michael Holding.

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    The latest global sport organization to initiate a partnership with the JOA is the International Jump Rope Union (IJRU) established in 1973 as the sole international governing body for the sport of jump rope and now with a membership of sixty-two countries spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceana.

    At the recent virtual signing ceremony of a partnership agreement between the two leading organizations in sport, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, remarked that the execution "is more than an understanding and a union for it is a conviction on the part of two recognized sporting bodies that through sport and using sport an inspiring script for brotherhood beyond sport will be written."

    With diversity, inclusion, innovation and excellence as its mantra, the IJRU values are in sync with the JOA which has been broadening its sport agenda in both the summer and winter sports. JOA Secretary General and CEO, Ryan Foster, stated that the "partnership between the Jamaica Olympic Association and the International Jump Rope Union is a testimony that the business of sport has expanded beyond what one considers traditional as the status quo for sport is a thing of the past as the JOA embraces this union which is born in the concept of sport for all."

    IJRU President, Shaun Hamilton, hailed the historic signing and Jamaica's inclusion as "a tremendous moment" and in lauding the JOA said "Jamaica is a very influential space and place and we, the IJRU, are so happy that they will lead the way for other island nations to join us in this amazing community and family."

    The sport of jump rope has seen tremendous growth in the last decade as a competitive and recreational sport among the youth of the global village, an achievement which Samuda acknowledged as giving them "yet another option in a sport that combines, skill, dexterity, flexibility, speed and kinetics with concentration, focus, patience and determination; that marries physical attributes with mental attitudes and aptitudes in such a marvelous way so as to create human symmetry and aesthetics."

    As the JOA continues to fulfill its mission to engrain the values of sport in the Jamaican human landscape, Foster stated that "Sport is a way of life that not only transcends once unbreakable borders but impacts not only lives but livelihoods and the JOA is pleased to be a part of a journey which is rooted in the hallway of legacy creation that will form the basis from which many athletes will benefit for years to come."

    Under the partnership agreement, both sporting bodies will collaborate in developing the sport in Jamaica with IJRU hosting technical webinars and physical workshops for officials, coaches and judges as well as providing sport-related equipment and requisites. Further the parties will co-operate in developing a Caribbean strategy for the sport utilizing Jamaica as a springboard and hub for developmental initiatives in the region.

    "The JOA is determined to transform Jamrock to be a mecca for competition and recreational sport, sport education, sport entertainment and sport tourism," Samuda said.

    The hosts of the ceremony were Novelette Harris, Member Relations Manager of the JOA, and Marsha Bonhart, American television, newspaper and radio and award-winning journalist.

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