Olympic hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympic Games have expressed delight about an expedited JMD$40 million injection by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) under its ‘Olympic Invest’ programme, to fund their preparation and qualification.

Among them was 2016 Olympian Yona Knight-Wisdom, who underlined the impact on preparation created by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“2020 has, of course, been difficult for everybody, but particularly for athletes in so many ways - spending so much time away from normal training, losing the chance to earn prize money from competitions and also the exposure that big events can bring. So it’s great to finally be back in full-time training, preparing for whatever 2021 brings,” said the diver based in the United Kingdom.

“But to have the financial backing of the JOA will help to give me that extra bit of motivation to work hard every day and be ready to compete to my highest level when the time comes,” the 25-year-old added.

Kinght-Wisdom created history in becoming the first athlete to represent Jamaica in Olympic diving competition at the 2016 Rio Games. He explained that additional JOA funding will allow him to focus unilaterally on competition.

“This investment will allow for me to get more physiotherapy to help look after my body, as well as to help pay for day-to-day training expenses such as travel, which means I can focus on the important things,” he said.

“Hopefully this support will allow all of us to represent Jamaica to our highest level in Tokyo, because I believe a successful Olympics will bring joy and lift the spirits of the island as we come out of this terrible pandemic.”

Tafari Whitter of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited, who is hoping to become the nation’s first Olympic skateboarder believes the funds being made available will ease difficulties created by COVID-19.

“I am very proud of the JOA family on the fast track of 40 million dollars for athletes’ preparation, due to COVID making things hard for most of us,” said Whitter.

“The JOA family managed to still keep things under control throughout these rough times and that is why I am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity of being part of history. Love you Jamaica. Let’s go to Tokyo. I am so, so proud of the JOA family.”

Martial artist Alton Brown has his sights firmly set on Olympic competition in karate. He is the number-one ranked male karate athlete within the Caribbean and number two in his division across Pan America and number 22 in the world.

“I have my eyes firmly set on two objectives; qualification and medal success at the Tokyo Games and legacy within Jamaica Karate following the Games. This additional funding from the JOA will have a vital impact on my ability to continue to pursue and successfully reach those goals,” Brown said.

“The movement towards qualification at these Games has been four years in the making and would not be possible without the JOA’s support at key moments throughout this journey. In addition, the efforts of the Jamaica Karate Federation, under the leadership of Tony Robinson, have been instrumental in getting us to this moment.”

Brown explained that the rigors of qualification demands monetary support.

“Since 2018, the financial burden to the athlete of participating in the karate qualification process for Tokyo has been unprecedented, with almost 20 events taking place across five continents,” he shared.

“We have adapted well to the COVID-19 Pandemic, utilizing relationships we hold with national teams across the Caribbean and Europe to continue development. This funding will not only allow us to be present at the final qualification events from February 2021, but also maximize the relationships we hold with other national teams, to ensure vital partner training opportunities necessary to continue to produce world-class results.

“The world is taking note of Jamaica Karate and this additional funding will allow us to finish the race and make Jamaica proud,” said Brown.

 

Szandra Szogedi, the General Secretary of the Jamaica Judo Association has been appointed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSF) to the Judo Classification Projects Research Committee that is tasked with the responsibility of redesigning the current classification rules, specifically for the para sport of judo, using evidence and research-based findings of stakeholders.

This marks the first time that in the story of the Paralympic movement that Jamaica will have a voice in shaping and implementing rules of a sport that will govern competition in local, regional and global games and championships.

"I humbly accept the appointment and wish to extend my deepest respect and appreciation to the Jamaica Paralympic Association, my Federation and colleagues for their strong support. I look forward to working with some remarkable people all in the name of my love and passion for sports," Szogedi said in reacting to the appointment.

Para sports continue to grow in Jamaica and Szogedi has acknowledged the importance of her appointment.

"We are at a critical junction in Jamaica's sporting history and this appointment will certainly facilitate further growth and development for Jamaica’s blind sports and sports in general,” she said. “I am deeply honored to be selected and will fly the Jamaican flag high with pride."

The committee will engage in a robust evaluation of the existing rules in guaranteeing a sport specific and evidence-based classification system in judo.

Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda said the JPA prides itself in positioning talent into becoming policy makers and benefactors rather than simply being beneficiaries of a system.

“We encourage creators and innovators rather than partakers,” Samuda said. “We inspire thought leadership in the boardroom, in the technical coaching labs and on the field of play. Szandra embodies our vision and mission."

It was also an historic moment for the JPA at the 2019 Lima Para Pan American Games when Theador Subba, inspired by Szogedi and coached by Stephen Moore, created history in achieving Jamaica's first Judo medal - a bronze - in the men's over 100 kg class.

Subba's achievement was remarkable as he only took up the sport just over a year before. Since then, he continues to be driven, under the watchful eye of Szogedi, to attain that coveted gold medal at the Paralympic Games while, occasionally but purposely, crossing the floor to the javelin circle where he is also gifted and striving for excellence.

 The governing body of esports in Jamaica, Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI), is now an official member of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

On September 23, the JEI received unanimous votes for approval. Roughly a month later, they got a letter from the JOA solidifying the deal.

"This is certainly not a first in the world, but we believe it's a first within the Caribbean. Some territories have an acknowledgment from their Olympic bodies, but full acceptance is not prevalent," President of the JEI, Gregory Moore said.

 "The JEI is elated to be accepted by the JOA as it further solidifies and validates the notion of Esports becoming an Olympic sport."

 National esports team, Dr. Birdz, anticipates further athlete development from this historic deal.

"The National Esports Team will now have access to the same resources that other athletes within the Olympic movement have. It will also allow us to seek sponsorship from corporate supporters of the Olympic body," Moore said.

 As an official member of the JOA, the JEI looks forward to new opportunities and resources that will benefit the preparation of the national FIFA esports team that will be managed by the JFF, which is also under the JOA.

 The JEI has several upcoming FIFA events in preparation for the qualification of the national FIFA Esports team in 2021.

"Any progress made by the JEI helps with events we stage. So, we expect the full support of all entities within the Olympic Movement. Especially partners who assist with staging Olympic qualifiers," Moore said.

 

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has partnered with its member association, the Jamaica Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (JABBFA) to host virtual workout sessions under the name and style "We Train” commencing on October 19, 2020.

In delivering the keynote address at the launch at Olympic Manor on October 8, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, said that "long before the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic the JOA had gone virtual and digital in advocating that the business of sport is no longer a manual stroll in the park but has become 'highway' technology in its training methods and system and a science in engineering optimal performance of the athlete."

The workout sessions will feature national athletes going through technical paces under the supervision of experienced JABBFA instructors, who will demonstrate simple methods that can be done at home in the pursuit of and maintaining fitness.

President Samuda in lauding the partnership remarked that "the series 'We Train' will bring to Facebook, Instagram and their internet relatives, Olympism in action and in motion with each live session bringing alive the values of inspiration, courage, determination and respect for which the JOA and the Olympic movement are known" In a dynamic environment and amidst the pandemic where sport is battling to remain bankable and sustainable, President Samuda stated the imperative for change and transformation in sport.

"Sport has become a business of cost efficiency and revenue generation for the administrator, capital intensive for infrastructure development and ‘bang for the buck' investment for the sponsor and financier" he said.

President Samuda's exhortation to the virtual audience at the launch and stakeholders was direct: "We all had better get fit and with the programme if we are to get in the game, to stay in the game, to change the game and, ultimately, to transform the game".

The objectives and value of the partnership between the JOA and JABBFA will certainly go beyond the physical as President Samuda reminded: "An athlete, a bodybuilder, appreciates that a contoured body is but physical fitness and well-being; but an inspired athlete and bodybuilder understands, beyond the muscle of life and living, that character and transformation comes from within which are then reflected outwardly."

Ryan Foster, Secretary General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has been appointed to the Technical Commission of Centro Caribe Sports, the recently rebranded Central American and Caribbean Sport Organization, which owns the oldest multi-sport global championships, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.

Foster takes his seat at the table among regional experts from English, Spanish and French-speaking countries that form the membership of the sport organization and will, along with colleague commission members, script the technical agenda for over 35 sports of the Games.

"Jamaica has a seat on an important Commission, which really is the competition engine of the Games and our team, led by President Luis Meija Oviedo, will ensure that service above self and regional commitment guarantee the CAC vehicle firing on all cylinders and going the extra mile," said Foster in reacting to his appointment.

“The Technical Commission provides oversight management of all technical matters of the Games and this Foster said "is itself a mandate to ensure that the technical rules and protocols of the Games promote fairness and integrity in inspiring confidence in the athletes, officials and other stakeholders".

Jamaica has a distinguished history at the CAC Games and the last edition in 2018 in Barranquilla, Colombia, was the most successful Games on all counts - the largest athlete contingency, the most medals achieved and the most disciplines participating.

Foster has transitioned his technical expertise to the regional level. A member of the Finance Commission of the Pan American Sport Organization (PASO), Foster is a committed regionalist and brings to the leading sport entities over 15 years of advocacy for greater and more strategic resource management of sport for the region.

However, the JOA Secretary General, from a national perspective, promises that "Jamaica's experience at the next CAC Games will be very hi-tech in performance and management”.

President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, was brief but pointed in his reaction to Foster's appointment.

"An athlete's best choice, an official and administrator's preferred choice and the region's sport benefactor. Well deserved," said Samuda.

 

Christopher Samuda, the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association has been appointed chairman of the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CACSO) Legal Commission.

Former national boxing representative, Sakima Mullings, has joined the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) as the first member of its newly implemented Internship Programme.

The popular and highly respected fighter, who twice won the Contender Series, has traded his gloves for a space at the offices of the JOA at its Olympic Manor headquarters on Cunningham Avenue in Kingston.

“My responsibilities are going to be to create digital marketing strategies for the new federations that have joined the JOA and to also help them in terms of their business plans,” Mullings said of his new role in sports.

“The JOA requires business plans from them when they require funding. My role is to make sure that their business plans are in compliance with the JOA standard.”

The former boxer will also work alongside the Jamaica Lawn Bowls Association.

Within the past month, the JOA had announced plans to contract university students and/or recent graduates with backgrounds in areas such as business and social media management under an internship programme expected to expand its member services to affiliates.

The move, according to Ryan Foster, the JOA’s Secretary General/CEO, is a key deliverable within the organisation’s ‘Pathway to Success’ mantra, which seeks to grow its affiliates’ business capabilities.

“The JOA Internship Programme is an expansion of our education perspective, which also includes the first of its kind Stamina Education Series and JOA Scholarship Programme,” Foster said.

“The Internship will not only give a meaningful experience to our university graduates - who in some instances can also be an athlete, coach or administrator - but it expands our member service options to ensure we continue helping our members in achieving their respective goals.

“This programme is the first of its kind and we welcome Sakima to our team and he will be working very closely with our member-relations manager."

During his boxing career, Mullings won the Commonwealth Zonal middleweight title in 2011, the World Boxing Council (WBC) Caribbean Boxing Federation welterweight title in 2013 and J. Wray & Nephew (JWN) Contender middleweight in 2014 and JWN Contender super welterweight championship belt in 2017.

He also takes impressive credentials to the desk, having earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration (Majoring in Finance), from the State University of New York, New Paltz campus.

"The responsibilities assigned to our interns are practical and meaningful as they are tasked with preparing strategic, business and social media plans for our member federations that require assistance in those regards,” said Novelette Harris, the JOA’s Member Relations Manager.

“They, having a background in those areas of responsibility by virtue of the degree courses they currently pursue, get the chance to apply their learnt knowledge and skill in a real way and build their work experience in the process."

Mullings expressed gratitude at the chance to widen his scope of development.

“Having this opportunity to be part of this internship is part of my transition. Everyone is familiar with me being an athlete, but an athlete’s shelf life is not long,” said Mullings. “Being part of a sporting organisation in Jamaica is like a natural progression, getting involved in sport management, that’s my future.

“I feel good that a high-level organisation such as the JOA is helping my transition into sports management. I think that it’s a tremendous opportunity for persons like myself. It allows me to see how sport is run from an administration standpoint and a lot of the things that happen behind the scenes to make sports happen.”

Mullings had shown keen interest in advancing his academic pursuits last year when he launched into a Sports Management course at the University of Technology (UTech).

Come September, he will make moves towards landing a bigger blow when taking on the Master’s degree programme in Sports Business Management at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

“I’m taking small steps. I had a nice run with boxing,” he exclaimed. “I’m definitely trying to recreate myself in transition to ensure that I continuously try to be involved in sport, but in a different way.”

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association says the significant increase in administrative expenses over the past two years is as a result of changes made to its organisational structure as it moved to become more professional in its operations.

The JOA was responding to a report in Jamaican media on Thursday that placed the spotlight on the organisations ballooning operational expenses over the last two years. In the report aired in Television Jamaica, it was revealed that salaries moved from JMD$9.7M in 2017 to J$34.7M in 2018, while administrative expenses spiralled almost 100 per cent - from J$32M to J$60M over the same period.

Meanwhile, JOA’s assets declined from J$178.1M in 2017 to J$147.8m in 2018 all while per diem payments for athletes was reduced from USD$30 to USD$25.

Earlier Friday, the JOA issued a lengthy statement detailing the changes to its operations as it sought to justify its expenditures.

“The increase in the administrative expenses of the JOA was as a result of the full establishment of a corporate organizational structure. This involved the modernization of the operations of the JOA again in keeping with the “Pathway to Success” program and entailed the full computerisation of our accounting systems, the introduction of a payroll system to replace the paper-based manual system and a complete revamp of the website,” the JOA said in its statement. 

“Sixty-seven per cent of the increase in administrative expenses over 2017 was as a result of the increase in salaries and wages which was a function of the decision of the Board and mandate it received from member associations to restructure and professionalize the association.”

The JOA said 10 per cent of the increase in administrative expenses over the prior year 2017 was as a result of a decision taken by the new administration to rectify the reconciliations and finalise outstanding financial reports from the prior quadrennial period (2013-2016) for submission to its main stakeholder, the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “This saw a reduction in our receivables from J$85M in 2017 to J$20M in 2018,” it said.

The JOA explained that salaries increased as a result of a decision taken by the board to restructure and professionalize the office in keeping with the “Pathway to Success” vision which was articulated to our members in 2017.

“In expanding the services to our members, the Board identified four critical areas: Business Development, Member Relations, IT Services and Marketing and Corporate Communications. This necessitated the engagement of persons with the skill sets and experience in alignment with the services being offered,” the JOA said.

This, it said, resulted in increased sponsorships and revenue to the JOA with income levels doubling in 2018, which was a direct result of the JOA leveraging more income opportunities through existing stakeholders and new partners.

The JOA also claimed that leveraging increased grant income through Olympic Solidarity to support the development activities carried out by our various member associations while also continuing its efforts to increase other income streams through new sponsorships. 

The redevelopment and branding of the JOA Website and the development of websites for some Member Associations at no cost to them.

According to the JOA, significant improvement in member relations through its educational workshops, increased training opportunities for its members locally and overseas and the hosting of its “Sports for Breakfast” series, which allowed its member associations to interface and network with corporate Jamaica.  Membership support increased by JMD$80M over the prior year and across various sports facilitating their development and assisting with Olympic qualification efforts.

In relation to communications, the JOA said the professionalization of its communication network with its members' associations and external partners as well as press conferences and briefings hosted by the JOA led to the creation of a strong brand presence locally and globally.

Premier Caribbean men’s squash player, Chris Binnie, has earned high marks from the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for his professionalism and humility, among other things, as sports’ governing body here highlighted his ascent in the racquet sports global standings.

Binnie, the record-holder of nine Caribbean singles championship titles, improved his World Squash Federation rankings in singles to 76th in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted play on the Professional Squash Association circuit. Binnie is also ranked 36th in doubles globally and 13th in the Americas region.

Commenting on his rise, Ryan Foster, CEO/Secretary General of sports’ apex sporting body, said: "The JOA is extremely proud of the recent rise in the world rankings of Chris Binnie. His hard work is a testimony to dedication and perseverance and we want to also congratulate the Jamaica Squash Association for their diligence in ensuring the success of their constituent member.

"Chris is the epitomè of a true professional, one of integrity, fair play and humility, all characters which represent Olympism. These traits led us to elect Chris to be the flagbearer for the recently held Panam Games in 2019. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with squash and all our member associations while we continue to lead the movement within our country,” added Foster.

The 31-year-old Jamaican’s improvement represented a major comeback, as Binnie played his way to a career-high world ranking of 65 in 2018, but fell to 88th in 2019 when he was beset by injuries.

Reflecting on the turnaround, Binnie said: “I was excited to start moving back up the rankings again. It (2019) was obviously a difficult year … I was plagued with injuries so my ranking definitely fell a bit. But last fall and early this spring before the coronavirus set in, I was doing really well. I had won a couple of events and I was moving back up the rankings, so I was very excited and looking forward, to once the Tour does start back, to get back out there and continue to do that.”

Prior to the shutdown, Binnie was successful in winning the Life Time Atlanta Open in Sandy Springs, in February and the Pittsburgh Challenger series in January. In December also, he was a member of the Jamaica team that placed 18th at the World Team Squash Championships in December and at the Panam Games in Lima, Peru in 2019, he partnered with Lewis Walters to make the quarter-finals.

Asked about the impact of the pandemic, Binnie said: “Yes, COVID is a big setback, but it’s a big setback for everybody, so I’ll try to use this time positively to help in other areas that I wouldn’t normally have time for and then I can build on that and help with my success once I’m back in competition mode.”

The prospects of competition returning appear encouraging with the resumption - and approved dates for a restart - for a number of big competitions, primarily the German Bundesliga and other top European leagues including Spain’s La Liga and the United Kingdom’s English Premier League, in football, as well as the United States’ National Basketball Association (NBA).

As he competes largely on the international PSA circuit, due to associated costs, Binnie was asked to comment on the support provided by the JOA.

“The support from the JOA obviously I’m incredibly grateful for it. Without them, it’d be very difficult to do what I do. I’m just very thankful that they’ve been on board and they’ve been helping me over the years getting ready in these smaller competitions – Panam, CAC and Caribbeans where I’ve been meddling and also on the Pro Tour where they’ve continued to help with my development,” said Binnie.

“I can’t thank them enough, (their support) it’s been invaluable and I hope that they can continue to do that. They’re definitely branching out support in many different sports now, that’s fantastic to see. I’m happy that they’re continuing to stick with me, even in the ups and the downs. Last year was a tough year and now I’m back on track so hopefully, things will continue to go well,” added Binnie.

Under the leadership of Christopher Samuda, its President, the JOA has ramped up its earning capacity in recent years, enabling their ability in contributing to its body of local sporting affiliates. Foster explained the nature of their support to squash.

"Some two years ago the JOA and the Jamaica Squash Association expanded their partnership to include the financial support to improve the sport within the country, as well as to increase the participation of their athletes in local and international competitions and we have seen the successes of this during the Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and PanAm Games," Foster outlined.

"We also extended our support directly to Chris in his preparations leading up to tournaments which have had obvious direct impact on his rise in world rankings."

As he continues to rise, Binnie is at looking at other horizons and primarily, the hope that his sport will soon make it to the Olympics.

“The Olympics is an interesting topic. There was a bid to get it into the 2020 Olympic Games and that, unfortunately, lost out … so it’s obviously looking for the next Games after that. So thankfully this (Tokyo 2020 postponement) doesn’t affect me as much and it’s more about focusing on the World Tour to get my ranking up so that later on when the Olympics do become an option I’ll be ready to perform.”

 

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has paid a special tribute to the legendary track and field icon, Dr Arthur Wint on the anniversary of his birth, for his ‘historic and pioneering’ achievements as one of Jamaica’s ‘greatest athlete and administrator’.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda said the JOA is willing to withdraw Jamaica’s athletes from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if, in light of the evolving Coronavirus pandemic, Japan was not able to guarantee their health and safety.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that involves the exchange of coaching expertise, technical and scientific research and sport medicine capabilities across the sporting disciplines.

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