JOA, Mayberry Investments, partner to back Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

There is much hope that the development of Jamaica’s junior gymnastics will spring to another level with the inaugural Mayberry Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series.

More than 100 youngsters, aged five years and older, are participating in the first event in the series, which is scheduled to begin today (Friday, May 14) at 5:00 p.m. and run through to Sunday, May 16, at the National Gymnastics Training Centre, at 1 Slipe Road in Kingston.

The series will take place quarterly for the next four years, courtesy of a joint effort by Mayberry Investments, which have invested one million dollars, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the National Gymnastics Federation of Jamaica.

“This event is the first in a series to aid in the national junior development process and will continuously test the readiness of our athletes, as part of a four-year cycle, for the Olympic programme. In other words, this series is critical to the success and growth of our budding gymnasts,” remarked Gary Peart, CEO, Mayberry Investments.

“Mayberry wants to witness the honing of this sort of talent on the local stage so that we can make a big impact on the world stage. Jamaicans are known for being ‘likkle but tallawah’ and this is just another shining example that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

As the main feature, all participants in the training event will be awarded a medal.

“Mayberry is particularly happy that all the athletes involved will be awarded medals at the end of the testing series, because we believe that all efforts are valid, from the smallest to biggest,” Peart said.

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the JOA, expressed his delight at the partnership that will bring yet another sport to the forefront of Jamaican athletics.

“The JOA is pleased to have brokered this deal under our JOA/Mayberry partnership that was established in 2019. The sport of gymnastics will be one of the sport that will be representing Jamaica at this summer’s Olympics and we are pleased with the trendsetting work done by President Grant-Brown and her team.

“The synergies between Mayberry and the Jamaica Gymnastics Federation was seamless and one built on developing the next generation of athletes. The JOA is extremely proud of one of our key partners, Mayberry, who has truly bought into our vision of building now for the future,” Foster shared. “They have demonstrated that they are good corporate citizens whose philanthropy has no bounds. We will continue to find avenues for our athletes and members to develop."

All told there will be five sessions, which includes the first that ended at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 30-minute awards ceremony. Sessions two, three and four are slated for 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m, 12:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday; while Session five will run from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The final half-hour in each session is reserved for awards presentations. 

Former national hockey president and now President of Gymnastics Nicole Grant-Brown praised the effort of their partners and noted the impact of their support.

“Mayberry Investments is shining a light on us that is certainly helping us to have hope. Jamaica Gymnastics is in its growth stage and like any child, we need help to grow and with a good support system we can grow big and strong,” she said.

“We are happy and elated that the vision of the Jamaica Olympic Association is wide enough to recognize that gymnastics, which is seen in Jamaica as a minor sport, requires partnerships of this nature to make it major and will one day be placed in its rightful position as one of Jamaica’s most consistent Olympic sport and most participated by our youth in this country.

“Already we have made two consecutive Olympic Games, 2016 and 2021, and the sport has not yet reached its maturity stage.”

She also noted the strategies involved in carving out this series, which marks the beginning of Jamaica’s junior Olympic programme.

“The skills and strength testing is two to three times per year, which is the base for their development. This program compares to that of the United States’ USA TOPS program, which they use to draft gymnasts as young as six years old in their National Gymnastics program. If we want to be the best, we have to adopt what works from the best while developing our own strategies based on our unique culture and natural athletics abilities,” she said.

Ten-year-old gymnast, Rihanna Williams, endorsed the series, saying: “We are the future of gymnastics. We train 5-6 hours, five days per week and it’s very hard. We do this because we love gymnastics and at the end of the day, we want to make Jamaica proud.

“We hope you will not leave us but stay with us and help us grow as we will be Olympians in the future. Thank you again Mayberry Investments, we will make you proud to be part of our family.”

Related items

  • Leon Bailey's agent, JFF, at odds over why player was selected for Copa America campaign Leon Bailey's agent, JFF, at odds over why player was selected for Copa America campaign

    The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has found itself embroiled in yet another controversy following the announcement of the Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming Copa America competition. The squad, revealed on Wednesday, included Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey, who quickly took to social media to label the inclusion as "misleading information." This development has sparked confusion and debate among fans and stakeholders alike.

    JFF President Michael Ricketts, in an interview with Sportsmax.TV early Thursday, provided insight into the selection process and the circumstances surrounding Bailey's inclusion. The president explained that no player is selected for national duty until there is dialogue with the player’s club or representatives.

    According to Ricketts, the situation stemmed from complex interactions between the JFF, Bailey, and his father and agent, Craig Butler. Butler, he said, had attempted to negotiate Bailey's availability for the national team by seeking the selection of players from his Phoenix Academy for both the national senior team and the national U20 team.

    "We don’t speak with the players; we speak with the player's club or the player's agent. In this case, (Craig) Butler, got in contact with the General Secretary Dennis Chung,” Ricketts said.  “He wanted other players [from Phoenix Academy] in the U20 squad and he wants players in the senior team in exchange for Bailey. The General Secretary told him no, I can’t deal with that."

    The president explained that the general secretary does not play a role in team selection, that is the responsibility of the coaching staff.

    Ricketts noted that following his conversation with Chung, Butler then placed a call to Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson and during their conversation assured him that Bailey would not be available for Jamaica’s game against Mexico but would be available for the second and third group-stage games of the Copa America. Consequently, the coach decided to include Bailey in the squad based on this assurance.

    Ricketts said he is unaware of any other matters that arose between Butler and the Reggae Boyz head coach.

    "Having told the coach that Bailey would be available for the second and third games, the coach named Bailey as part of the squad," Ricketts stated.

    Bailey, who has been suspended since the November international break for breaking curfew, had not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following his suspension, Bailey announced on a podcast that he was taking a break from international football.

    On social media Wednesday, Butler reiterated Bailey’s stance, stating that posts suggesting Bailey’s willingness to participate in the Copa America were misleading. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position," Butler wrote. "We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

    The squad was announced at Tracks and Records in Kingston on Wednesday evening when Coach Hallgrimsson told media that discussions between Butler and the JFF had gone well, indicating that several issues of concern were addressed, which presumably led him to believe that the player was available for selection.

    “So the talk was between his (Bailey’s) agent and the JFF, so I would like to give a lot of credit to Craig and Mr Chung so they sorted out whatever was the issue between him and the JFF so after that I think he has always wanted to represent Jamaica,” the head coach said.

    “I don’t want to talk too much about what went on at a meeting I wasn’t attending but I’m just grateful  that this happened and this was resolved. We have been talking about some of the issues he was talking about so we shared some of the same thoughts in so many matters and hopefully it will just help us grow, continue to improve to become more professional…”

    However, in an interview on CVM Television Thursday morning, hours after Bailey’s social media post, Butler explained that he met with the JFF and he explained his concerns and they long-term reparations of the damage (of the relationship between the player and governing body.

    He said they did not commit to any player whether Bailey of (Dujuan) Whisper Richards rejoining the national team because “we felt that we should take a stand (against the JFF’s lack of professionalism) but more importantly that Leon is taking a break.

    “Leon hasn’t had a break since 2016 and he is taking a break to spend time with family. We explained to them that he is not ready but we will speak to him and they (JFF) are not to make any attempts to include him in the squad until I got confirmation or a communication from Leon, who is at Disney World with his family.”

    Jamaica is set to open its Copa America campaign against Mexico on June 22, followed by matches against Ecuador on June 26 and Venezuela on June 30.

    President Ricketts emphasized the importance of moving forward regardless of the situation. "The show must go on," he declared, underlining the need for the team to remain focused amid the ongoing controversy.

    Several calls made to JFF General Secretary went unanswered.

     

  • Nikisha Pryce expresses gratitude for memorable finish as she ‘signs off’ on collegiate career in record-breaking style Nikisha Pryce expresses gratitude for memorable finish as she ‘signs off’ on collegiate career in record-breaking style

    In an extraordinary display of athleticism, Nikisha Pryce capped her collegiate career in spectacular fashion, being crowned NCAA National Division 1 400m champion on Saturday. Pryce, representing the University of Arkansas, achieved a lifetime best of 48.89 seconds, setting a new standard as the fastest time ever run by a collegiate woman.

    This remarkable performance also established a new Jamaican national record, making Pryce the first Jamaican woman to run the 400m under 49 seconds. Her time was the world-leading mark this year until American Sydney McLaughlin Levrone ran 48.75 seconds at the New York Grand Prix on Sunday.

    The achievement was part of a larger triumph for the University of Arkansas Women's team, which claimed the national title. Pryce, alongside teammates Kaylyn Brown, Amber Anning, and Rosey Effiong, completed a historic 'super sweep' by securing the top four places in the 400m finals. The quartet later shattered the collegiate record in the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:17.96, cementing a dominant victory and a memorable conclusion to their NCAA season.

    On Tuesday, Pryce took to Instagram to reflect on her incredible journey and express her gratitude. "As my college athletic career came to a close, I couldn’t have asked for a better finish. It was a moment I will never forget, and it was the perfect way to end my time as a college athlete. Looking back on all the hard work and dedication I put into my sport over the years, I felt proud and grateful for the memories I had made along the way," she shared.

    Pryce continued, "It was a fitting conclusion to a collegiate chapter of my life that I will always cherish. I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to @razorbacktfxc @capt_johnson and each and every member of our college track team. It has been an incredible journey filled with hard work, dedication, and unforgettable moments. I am so grateful for the support and encouragement that you have all shown me throughout my time on the team. Thank you for pushing me to be the best athlete I could be and for always believing in me. I will cherish the memories we have made together on and off the track forever. Thank you for being a part of my college track experience and for making it truly special."

    Pryce's record-setting 48.89 seconds and her contributions to the 4x400m relay marked significant milestones in her career. "48.89, 400m Collegiate Record Holder, 4x400m Collegiate Record Holde, Jamaican National Record Holder??," she proudly posted, signing off with, "Signing Out ~ N. Pryce."

    Looking ahead, Pryce is expected to sign a professional contract soon as she prepares to compete at Jamaica's national championships later this month. Her sights are set on securing a spot on her country's team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, a goal that now seems well within her reach given her recent performances.

    Pryce's collegiate career may have come to an end, but her legacy at the University of Arkansas and in the realm of collegiate athletics will endure, inspiring future generations of athletes to reach for greatness.

     

  • Jereem Richards feels no pressure ahead of Paris Olympics after Racer's Grand Prix win Jereem Richards feels no pressure ahead of Paris Olympics after Racer's Grand Prix win

    Trinidad and Tobago Olympian Jereem Richards is heading towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with a confident and relaxed mindset, feeling no pressure from the weight of national expectations. Richards, who recently clinched victory in the 200m at the Racer's Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica, expressed his satisfaction with his performance and his outlook for the upcoming Olympics.

    Richards triumphed in the 200m at the National Stadium in Kingston last weekend, clocking an impressive 20.13 seconds. Reflecting on his race, Richards rated his performance highly. "I would rate it an eight out of 10. I felt really good in the warm-up. I thought I was ready to come off the turn in front of them although those guys are more one-two guys and I’m a four-two guy. Came off the turn not exactly where I wanted to be, but I know I’m strong and once I get tall, ain't much people could run the last 100m as effective as me."

    While the time wasn't exactly what he had anticipated, Richards was pleased with his overall fitness and performance. "I won with 20.1. It wasn’t the time I expected, but I felt really good. If you give me three minutes (recovery) I could run that same time again. So praise God for the fitness level I have right now. I have to work on the speed a little bit more, but I believe everything is falling into the right time and the right place and when I actually need it to be, it’s gonna be there."

    As Richards prepares for the Trinidad and Tobago national championships, he remains undecided on whether he will compete in the 200m or the 400m. Regardless of the event, his primary focus remains on maintaining his form and readiness for Paris.

    When it comes to carrying the hopes of Trinidad and Tobago on the global stage, Richards feels no added pressure. The last time Trinidad and Tobago secured an Olympic medal was at the 2016 Rio Games when Keshorn Walcott won bronze in the men’s javelin. Despite this, Richards maintains a grounded perspective.

    "To me, it’s no pressure. The way I think about it is the only people I really care about are my intimate circle—my family, my wife, my mother, and my close friends, my siblings also. Even though I know I will have the support of Trinidad and Tobago and the pressure of being expected to win a medal, at the end of the day, if I know I do well or don’t do well, my family and my intimate circle are the ones who actually do care about me outside of sport, so when I focus on them it takes away all the pressure."

    Richards' approach emphasized the importance of personal support over external expectations. "People could say bad about performances, my family loves me each and every day and it doesn’t matter."

    With this mindset, Jereem Richards is poised to tackle the challenges of the Olympic Games in Paris with confidence and composure, knowing that his success on the track is supported by the unwavering love and support of those who matter most to him.

     

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.