JAAA gets $35-m boost for staging of National Championships

By June 29, 2023
(from left) Lloyd "Bunny" Pommells, SDF's chairnan of allocation; JAAA's president Garth Gayle and Olivia Grange, minister of sports, admire the symbolic cheque during the launch of the JAAA's National Junior and Senior Championships at Jamaica Pegasus on Thursday. (from left) Lloyd "Bunny" Pommells, SDF's chairnan of allocation; JAAA's president Garth Gayle and Olivia Grange, minister of sports, admire the symbolic cheque during the launch of the JAAA's National Junior and Senior Championships at Jamaica Pegasus on Thursday. Collin Reid

As the anticipation builds towards the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) National Senior and Junior Championships, the event received a massive $35 million boost from the Government to ensure all goes accordingly for the four-day event which will select Jamaica's teams to various Championships later this year.

With performances from Shericka Jackson, Ackeem Blake, Alana Reid and Jaydon Hibbert, among others, already setting the tone, coupled with the fact that Elaine Thompson-Herah is on the mend and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will open her season at the July 6-9 championships, spectators are eager to see what will transpire inside the National Stadium.

The country's senior athletes will be hunting spots to the 19th World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary scheduled for August 19-27, while their junior counterparts will vie for selection to the NACAC Under-18 and Under-23 Championships in July, as well as the PanAm Under-20 Athletics Championships and the Under-18 Commonwealth Youth Games, both set for early August.

Minister of Sport Olivia Grange, while reminiscing on the fact that Jamaica is ranked fourth on the medals table with 137 medals, inclusive of 37 gold, 56 silver, and 44 bronze won over the years --only behind United States, Kenya and Russia --said the contribution through the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) represents an affirmation from the Government to support the country's athletes.

Grange, who presented a symbolic $10 million cheque during the event's launch at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Thursday, explained that another $25 million will follow in short order.

"As our athletes step up to the line to compete and secure their spots at the respective international meets, we want to assure them of their nation's and government's complete and unwavering support. We want to remind them that we are grateful for their work and contribution to the national pride. 

"Our athletes truly represent Jamaica in a big way. You are some of the best In the world, both at the junior and senior levels and when you compete, you compete hard, you compete fair and play by the rules. Always remember that you are first your own ambassador and then your family, your community and of course your country," Grange said.

"I am happy that we are able to provide this money and we would want to give more but the cake is only so big, but never before in the history of Jamaica his so much money been spent on sports. And in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, we will establish a Jamaica House in Budapest. This is something we have been doing at major games and the idea is to leverage the World class performances of our athletes to encourage people to buy Jamaica, so we intend to maximise the prosperity of Jamaica," she added.

Well over 400 athletes are expected to participate in the championships which will feature approximately 60 events for seniors and juniors.

All the country's top stars should also be present, barring injuries, with the marquee events, the men’s and women’s 100m finals and the 400m hurdles finals, set to highlight day two of the meet on Friday, while Sunday's last day will feature the 200m, 400m and sprint hurdles finals.

JAAA President Garth Gayle urged spectators both in Jamaica and abroad to throw their usual support behind the athletes as they give of their best on the track and in the field with one end goal, to represent Jamaica with distinction on the world stage.

Tickets are already available online and will also be made available at the stadium’s ticket office and at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Monday. Season tickets will be available for $7,500, while the daily entry for the Grandstand finish line will vary at $1,000 for Thursday, $3,000 for Friday, $2,000 on Saturday and $2,500 for Sunday.

Regular Grandstand tickets are $1,000 Thursday, $2,500 on Friday, $1,500 for Saturday and $2,000 for Sunday.

The bleachers will only be opened on Friday at a cost of $500 for entry.

"I plead with spectators to fill the stands with your fervor, vigour and unflinching support. Your presence plays an important role in fostering that ideal environment to inspire the athletes to greater heights. Let's not overlook the strength of unity, sports provide that wonderful environment for uniting people, breaking down barriers and promoting respect in a current society that it is needed now. So, we want all Jamaicans to journey and come enjoy four days of excellent competition," Gayle said.

"This competition is more than just a way to name winners, it is also a celebration of human spirit, a symbol of strength and tenacity, it is a manifestation of our sense of National pride. I salute our athletes who have dedicated their entire lives and for those who would have been on the cusp of starting their careers, that the tradition will continue. I urge you to take advantage of the chance to come and observe our athletes in competition...keep in mind that they not only perform for themselves," he noted.

Gayle also praised the support of the Government and other stakeholders for their efforts and financial backing in making a championship a possibility.

"We appreciate your constant dedication to the development of athletics in Jamaica and find your effort to be genuinely admirable. The national senior and junior championships is a positive proof of how talented Jamaicans are and why we are regarded as a powerhouse in the world of athletics.

"Our athletes continue to display extraordinary skills, mesmerising our spectators with their grace, their speed, their agility, unmatched tenacity. Once a Jamaican puts on the National colours and goes to face the starter, to jump or to throw, they do so with pride. So we know it will be exciting because of the intense competition, spectacular performances and history-making events that will certainly take place," Gayle stated.

 

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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