Jamaican government to support Olympic athletes with funds for Paris 2024 preparation

By June 24, 2024

In a significant show of support for its athletes, the Jamaican government announced on Monday that it will provide financial assistance to every Jamaican athlete who qualifies for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. This initiative, revealed by Sports Minister Olivia Grange at a press conference hosted by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), underscores the country’s commitment to ensuring its athletes are well-prepared for the global event.

Minister Grange disclosed that each athlete who qualifies this weekend will receive JMD$360,000. "For nutrition and just to help them to get ready," Grange stated, emphasizing the importance of proper preparation and support for the athletes. This financial boost aims to cover essential needs such as nutrition, training, and other preparatory activities critical for peak performance.

Furthermore, Minister Grange announced an additional incentive for the athletes and their support teams. "After the Olympics, we have set JMD$50 million aside," she said. "So after the Olympics, the athletes will receive funds, those who medal, those who didn’t medal and even the supporting team, everybody will get a little something," she said, crucially recognizing the collective effort required to compete at the highest level.

The announcement comes just days before the Jamaica National Championships, scheduled to take place from June 27-30, 2024, at the National Stadium in Kingston. This event will be a crucial opportunity for athletes to qualify for the Paris Olympics, with the new financial support adding an extra layer of motivation.

As the National Championships approach, athletes and their support teams can now look forward to the prospect of competing on the world stage in Paris with the backing of their government, further fueling their drive to succeed.

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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    For Jamaica's Andrenette Knight, the path to the Paris Olympic Games has been a journey marked by both triumph and heartbreak.

    Knight had always envisioned her first Olympic Games appearance contesting an individual event, particularly the 400m hurdles, a race in which she has consistently excelled. However, despite her determination and hard work throughout the season, the JAAA National Senior Championships did not go as planned.

    This, as she placed fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles final in 54.37s, well short of her 53.26s personal best, and her attempt in the 400m also ended in a disappointing sixth-place finish in 51.65s. Still, the 400m run was merely targeted at securing a spot on the country’s 4x400m relay team, which she accomplished.

    “My ultimate goal was to represent my country at the Olympics in my individual event,” Knight admitted.

    “But, despite falling short of that target, I am still on a path where I can still call myself an Olympian, and that in itself is a big accomplishment for me, and I’m still very proud of myself,” she told Sportsmax.TV from the team’s base in France.

    Knight finds solace in her selection for the 4x400m Mixed Relays team, an event that combines male and female athletes, as her performance at the National Championships was hampered by two significant challenges –the loss of her grandfather and an injury that took away from her preparation.

    “Honestly, this season has been tough for me. I found myself having more lows than highs. I lost my grandfather a couple weeks before the trials, and I took it very hard. And then, in the days leading up to the trials, my foot was swollen, and I was in a lot of discomfort. I later found out it was a minor stress reaction,” she shared.

    “But regardless of everything, I think I went into the trials with an objective to make the team and I did that so I guess that was the high. I can’t complain too much about the setbacks; life happens and everything doesn’t always go according to plan but I would say this season has taught me to be resilient,” Knight added.

    Though she can manage to put on a brave face now, Knight pointed out that pushing through the pain and adversity was by no means easy, as she harboured thoughts of giving up on herself.

    In fact, the 27-year-old revealed that it is the strength of her grandfather’s memory and support of other family and friends that have kept her going. But more than that, the United States-based athlete, who boast two NACAC Championships silver medals and made the World Championships final last year, believes she still has so much more to achieve in the sport.

    “My journey getting here wasn’t easy. Being a track and field athlete at the professional level is not easy, and I think just navigating it all by myself away from my family and my support system makes it 10 times harder. I felt like quitting on myself in the moment before but I never thought about giving up because I believe that I have not scratched the surface on what I am truly capable of yet,” Knight declared.

    Andrenette Knight (right) in action against compatriot Rushell Clayton and Dutchwoman Femke Bol. 

    “I enjoy what I do; I love to see myself making improvements, and I know that I have so much more in store, so I never really thought about it as difficult or easy. I just know this is what I have to do to get to where I want to.  More importantly, I have a host of people who support me and also believe in me, so whenever things get difficult, I can always rely on them, just knowing that this too shall pass,” the Vere Technical and University of Virginia alumna noted.

    It is the resilience that has brought her to this moment that Knight is hoping to draw on to possibly assist Jamaica into medal contention in the Mixed Relays when track and field takes centre stage at the July 26 to August 11 multi-sport showpiece.

    “The Olympic Games only come around every four years, so I’m definitely living in the moment and continuing to work on my overall well-being. When competition day comes, I can only do what I’m prepared to do and control what I can control. My goal at the end of the day is to get to my fullest potential and accomplish all that God has in store for me,” the Puma athlete ended.

    NB: The Olympic Games will be live on Sportsmax and the Sportsmax App.

  • Hayes out to make history with USWNT at Paris Olympics Hayes out to make history with USWNT at Paris Olympics

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    The USWNT come into the competition on the back of their earliest exit from a World Cup, losing to Sweden on penalties in the last 16 last year. 

    The United States arrive in Paris aiming to claim a fifth gold medal in the tournament, last triumphing in the competition at London 2012. 

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    "Our motivation isn't always about righting the wrongs. Far from it. We're excited. We're prepared."

    Since Hayes' arrival at the helm in May, she has won three of her four games in charge, securing four clean sheets in the process. 

    But a goalless draw with Costa Rica in their final pre-tournament fixture has supporters worried about their gold medal prospects.

    "The team is exactly where it needs to be at this stage," Hayes assured. "And for us it's just so, so important we continue to focus on that process."

    Hayes' side open their Group B campaign against Zambia, who have Barbra Banda in their ranks, the striker who has 12 goals in 12 games for Orlando Pride. 

    The USWNT are among the favourites to scoop the top award in Paris, with reigning world champions Spain also tipped for gold on their tournament debut. 

    But Hayes, who won seven WSL titles with Chelsea, feels the age-old assumption of American dominance in the women's game is disrespectful. 

    Hayes acknowledged that ambition is important, but emphasised that expectations for these Olympics must be amended due to the global growth of women's football. 

    "I think one of the biggest problems is that too often is that we talk about what we're going to do in Paris or what happens when we get to the semis and finals - I think it's disrespectful to the rest of the world to talk like that," Hayes said.

    "I think the game has moved to a point where that isn't the case. It isn't a shoo-in to get somewhere. It has to be earned and there's no given right.

    "There's top footballing nations in this tournament. I don't think shocks in the women's game exist any more.

    "I think we have to reframe our focus a little bit and have respect for the rest of the world."

  • Henry's France gunning for gold as Spain and Argentina look to build on summer success in Paris Henry's France gunning for gold as Spain and Argentina look to build on summer success in Paris

    Having been treated to a month of non-stop international football with Euro 2024 and the Copa America, the fun continues at the Olympic Games in Paris. 

    Sixteen teams will play across seven different stadiums in the men's tournament, and all will hope to have a gold medal placed around their necks on August 9 at the Parc des Princes. 

    There will be a new champion this time around, with Brazil, who triumphed in Tokyo, not participating in this year's tournament. 

    Will it be Thierry Henry's France, or will Argentina and Spain continue their recent international success on the global stage?

    Here, we have a look at all the key information ahead of the action unfolding.

    Football at the Olympics

    In Olympic football, the general rules align with those of domestic and international play. However, for the men's teams, there's a notable difference in the age requirement for each nation. 

    Each of the 16 countries have confirmed their 18-man squads ahead of the tournament, but are only allowed to select three players over the age of 23. 

    The action will start on 24 July, with Argentina and Spain kicking off their respective campaigns in the day's early matches.

    The tournament format consists of four groups containing four teams, with the top two advancing to the knockout stages. 

    A bronze medal match will take place a day prior to the final, and due to the number of fixtures needing to be played, the action will kickstart two days before the Olympics' official opening ceremony on July 26. 

    How do the groups look?

    While France are considered among the favourites at their home Games, they have been placed in a group that contains one-time silver medallists United States and Tokyo 2020 quarter-finalists New Zealand, as well as minnows Guniea.

    Henry's side have impressed in their pre-tournament preparations, scoring 12 goals in their three matches against the Dominican Republic, Japan and Paraguay. 

    Having been placed in the 'group of death' at Euro 2024, albeit they went on to lift the trophy anyway, Spain will sleep a little easier knowing they are to play two sides in Group C who are yet to participate at the Olympic Games. 

    La Roja feature in a group containing Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic, but will also play Egypt, who are making their 12th appearance in the competition. 

    Argentina are placed in Group B, with their biggest test coming in their opening game against Morocco, with Iraq and Ukraine rounding out that pool.

    Japan are the standout side in Group D, having previously featured in 11 editions of the Games; they will square off against Paraguay, Mali and Israel. 

    Spain and Argentina gunning for gold, but France will have their say

    Spain and Argentina are the hot favourites to build on their summer tournament successes, though France, as hosts, are certainly right in the mix.

    Argentina have the chance to clinch a record-equalling third gold medal in Paris, and would go level with Great Britain and Hungary as the most successful nation in the competition's history. 

    La Albiceleste previously triumphed in back-to-back Olympic Games, securing their maiden win in Athens 20 years ago, followed by another gold in Beijing four years later. 

    Javier Mascherano is coaching Argentina, and his squad includes two Copa America winners in the form of Nicolas Otamendi and Manchester City's Julian Alvarez. Thiago Almada, who has just signed for Botafogo in Brazil, was a star of MLS in recent years and is certainly one to watch.

    Argentina have, however, failed to get out of the group in their previous two appearances at the games, but will be confident of reaching the knockout stages this time around. 

    Spain are in search of a first gold medal since Barcelona 1992, and they will hope to make up for their defeat to Brazil in the Tokyo final.

    Their squad includes Fermin Lopez, Eric Garcia and Pau Cubarsi.

    But France will pose a significant threat, especially with the advantage of the Games being played on home soil.

    Eleven of Les Bleus 18-man squad play their football in France, and they will be hopeful of leading their nation to a first gold medal since the Los Angeles games back in 1984, and there are some real stars in Henry's squad.

    Alexander Lacazette brings the experience as captain, Jean-Philippe Mateta is coming off the back of a fine season, and new Bayern Munich winger Michael Olise is arguably the best player involved in the entire competition.

    Who could upset the odds?

    Uzbekistan, led by Timur Kapadze, are one of three teams making their debut at the Olympics, alongside Ukraine and the Dominican Republic. 

    They qualified for the tournament after reaching the final of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup earlier this year, losing to Japan 1-0 in May. 

    However, they face a difficult task to reach the knockout stages in their maiden appearance at the tournament, having been placed in Group C alongside Spain and Egypt. 

    Japan, meanwhile, are competing at their 12th Olympics, a record only bettered by the United States (15), France (14) and Egypt (13) of this year's participating sides.

    Having won all three of their group games at the Tokyo Games, Japan went close to equalling their best result in their home games, having previously claimed bronze in 1968. 

    They were beaten 3-1 by Mexico in their bronze medal match four years ago, and will be keen to earn a first top-two medal finish. 

    The USA are another side looking to restore some pride on the international stage following their group stage exit at the Copa America last month. Their best result came in 1904 when they won silver in St. Louis, with Marko Mitrovic the man tasked with delivering in Paris this time around. 

    No Paris return for Mbappe or Messi

    While some of the world's brightest talent will descend on Paris this month, there are some huge omissions from the 16 nations taking part. 

    Kylian Mbappe is arguably the biggest of those.

    Having failed to lead Les Bleus to European Championship glory, the former Paris Saint-Germain striker will not be able to make up for it in the city he called home for the past seven years. 

    Mbappe has completed his move to Real Madrid, signing a five-year deal with Los Blancos. The 36-time LaLiga champions said they would not release any of their squad to compete at the Games, although Mbappe said he was keen to play earlier this year.

    Lionel Messi is another huge player who will not be present in Paris, having just led Argentina to a third-straight major tournament win. 

     

    Messi played five times for Lionel Scaloni's side at the Copa America, scoring once in their semi-final win over Canada. 

    The 37-year-old was forced off in the final against Colombia after picking up an ankle injury, but would not have featured anyway having alerted Mascherano of his desire not to feature. 

    Messi has won all there is to win as a professional footballer, including an Olympic gold he clinched at the 2008 Games.

    And having become the youngest player to appear in a major international tournament final, Spain's Lamine Yamal will also not be competing at the Paris games. 

    Yamal starred for La Roja at Euro 2024, tallying five goal involvements in seven appearances in Germany.

    The 17-year-old played 50 times for Barcelona last season and will miss the tournament in order to manage his workload ahead of the new La Liga season. 

     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    France - Jean-Philippe Mateta

    All eyes will be on host nation France, with Henry's squad boasting a plethora of attacking talent heading into the games. 

    Les Bleus will be led by former Arsenal striker Lacazette, but attention will be focused on Crystal Palace striker Mateta, who enjoyed a rich vein of form in the Premier League.

    Mateta scored 16 goals last term, having previously only scored seven times for the Eagles, including a run of nine goals in Palace's seven-game winning run under new head coach, Oliver Glasner. 

    His former Palace team-mate Olise, fresh from his £50million move to Bayern Munich, is also a part of Henry's plans, along with Lacazette's Lyon team-mate, Rayan Cherki. 

    Argentina - Julian Alvarez

    Fresh from his Copa America success, Alvarez will be keen to add another international honour to his trophy cabinet. 

    Alvarez is one of three overage players picked by Mascherano alongside Otamendi and Geronimo Rulli.

    The 24-year-old scored two goals in Argentina's 16th Copa success, netting 19 times in 54 appearances in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's side last term as they claimed a record fourth consecutive Premier League crown. 

    With his participation in the tournament, Alvarez will miss City's pre-season tour of the United States and their Community Shield fixture against rivals Manchester United.

     

    Spain - Fermin Lopez 

    Along with Alex Baena, Fermin is one of two players from Spain's Euro 2024-winning squad heading to the Olympics.

    Lopez played just 28 minutes for La Roja in their record-setting fourth success at the Euros, but he is guaranteed more game time in Paris. 

    The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough year, scoring eight goals for Barcelona in La Liga, which included a strike against Real Madrid in his second Classico appearance. 

    Lopez and Baena are looking to make history by becoming the first outfield players to win both the Euros and Olympic gold in the same summer.

    Morocco - Achraf Hakimi 

    Despite failing to build on their World Cup 2022 semi-final run at the recent Africa Cup of Nations, PSG star Hakimi will be hopeful of guiding Morocco to gold.

    Hakimi will lead the Atlas Lions out for their eighth appearance at the Games, having been given permission to miss his club's pre-season preparations. 

    The 25-year-old, who has made over 70 appearances for his nation, helped Luis Enrqiue's side to a domestic treble last term, recording nine goal contributions in 25 Ligue 1 outings. 

    Guinea - Naby Keita

    Having endured a difficult season with injury at Werder Bremen, former Liverpool midfielder Keita will captain Guinea in their second appearance at the Olympics. 

    Keita made the switch from Anfield to Germany last year but made just five Bundesliga appearances, missing the final five games of the season after refusing to play their game against champions-elect, Bayer Leverkusen.

    The 29-year-old has 56 appearances for Guinea across a seven-year international career, scoring 11 times.

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