The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Guatemalan Olympic Committee (GOC) recently signed a historic Sports Co-operation Agreement that will see both bodies cooperating in the areas of applied sport sciences, sports medicine, technology, Olympic values, anti-doping, community and recreational sport, as well as sports administration.

The agreement will also facilitate the exchange of athletes and coaches who will benefit from educational and technical programmes.

The agreement was signed during the XXV General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committee (ANOC) in Greece.

JOA President Christopher Samuda declared that the signing of the agreement signifies an abiding commitment from the JOA and GOC to deepen their already strong bi-lateral relationship under which athletes, coaches, administrators and member federations will benefit from initiatives of capacity building and institutional strengthening, in research, training and education, sports-specific skills and the sciences and technology of sport.

President of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, Gerardo Aguirre, also endorsed the historic partnership in regional sporting history.

"For us, Guatemala's NOC, we identified this as an opportunity to generate a connection with sport and athletes between Jamaica and Guatemala,” he said.

“Jamaica has specific strengths in sport and Guatemala has developed others, making these useful for us all to share. Therefore, this makes the signing of this agreement a marvellous opportunity and from it can come various avenues of activities so that Jamaican and Guatemalan athletes can come together."

Secretary-General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Ryan Foster, who announced the agreement between the two Olympic organizations, explained that both Olympic bodies understand that efforts and relationships in sport must first be athlete-centric and dedicated.

 “Then, for stakeholders' engagement and empowerment and this agreement which we have signed is written testimony of that fact and the reality that friendships and unity in sport defy language barriers and the breadth of seas and oceans," he said.

Director of International Affairs of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, Neville Steins, emphasized the importance and high value of the agreement in the context of bringing “not only our countries together through sport, but more still, bringing together the Caribbean and Central America in eliminating the absence of communication owing to language differences through the use of sport and thus bring our countries' athletes together for the common good."

The JOA's foreign policy supports strong and strategic partnerships in providing enabling opportunities for athletes, coaches and administrators.

 "The JOA will continue to build strong partnerships across borders and continents. We started in December 2017 when we inked in Japan with the Tottori Prefecture Government an agreement which is facilitating collaboration beyond the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as for us sport development and diplomacy go beyond events and are life-changing experiences spanning generations. We will continue in earnest as sport is an enabler, equalizer and unifier" President Samuda said.

More Sports On Board for the Cali Junior Pan-American Games

The list of sports in which Jamaica will be represented at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games in Cali, Colombia, continues to grow with the latest additions being Skateboarding, Squash and Archery.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, describes the strong showing as "proof positive that the JOA's policy of equal opportunity, parity in investment and empowering the next-generation is encouraging and having results."

Representation now stands at a historic 12 sports, by far the largest number of sports that the local Olympic movement has ever had at a multi-sport regional or international games.

This fact has prompted President Samuda to say: "For us, at the JOA, strength lies in numbers, strength lies in a wealth of talent and strength lies in the conviction that today's real-time investment is tomorrow's history-making dividends."

Preparation for Cali is on in earnest and, for the Samuda-led administration, management of games generally has become a "business of sport" undertaking.

Commenting on the new approach, JOA Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Investing in and banking on the inflow of talent, increasing the numbers on the books,  creating opportunities for exponential growth and having a professional management team to  manage flow and outflow of games is our business at the JOA."

The positive response of the juniors augurs well for the future of the Olympic movement which is founded on the fundamental principles of inclusion and allowing each athlete the opportunity to transition to the international stage where, Secretary-General Foster stated, "history awaits those who had the discipline to train and the present will to succeed."

The Cali games will be held between November 25 and December 5 and "it will provide Jamaica's juniors and those of the America's opportunities to test their credentials for the 2023 Pan-American Games with the hope of graduating to the finale in 2024 in Paris" President Samuda stated.

Jamaica will be represented in several sports at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games which is scheduled to take place in the city of Cali in Colombia between November 25 and December 5, 2021.

Responding to the call made by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) earlier this year, several juniors from the so-called "smaller sports" dedicated their efforts in qualifying and have now earned a coveted place at the historic games.

Among those sports, whose athletes will don the black green and gold national colours in Cali, are Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Artistic Gymnastics, Fencing, Badminton Triathlon, Tennis, Cycling (Track), Skateboarding and Squash.

In commending the commitment of member associations and the nation's juniors, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, said: "Our associations and federations and their juniors have responded positively and with national pride to the JOA's Cali call to action for it will be for us, 'business unusual' in Cali and for them, it will be 'signed, sealed and delivered."

The JOA boss, in expressing a well-known policy of the national governing body, further stated "the JOA is giving our young sportsmen and women every opportunity to transition and be more than gold medalists - to be standard-bearers. The JOA subscribes to this ideal and Cali is certainly embracing it."

The number of local sports that will feature at the multi-sport junior games is indeed a record for the JOA and is being interpreted by its Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, as "a clear signal that the JOA's strategy of diversification is working well and that our members are inspiring their junior athletes to be history-makers and to strive for excellence."

With the Santiago 2023 Senior Pan-American Games and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games only two and three years away respectively, the JOA views the Cali games as a critical milestone. Secretary-General Foster, in giving the context, was unequivocal. "Cali is a dress rehearsal for our juniors. If you want to be at the senior shows, you have to, from now, dress for the shows, study the scripts and be able to deliver yourself on the big stages."

The stage lights in Cali will soon be turned on to spotlight over 3,800 athletes from the Caribbean and Americas - north, central and south -who will compete across 315 events in 28 sports and "Jamaica will be their centre stage and the objective is to have a leading role in this historic event," President Samuda said.

Jamaican Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is in Belgium to begin studies in Sports Administration on an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship via the Jamaica Olympic Association.

For athletes heading to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, winning medals would rank high on their list of priorities. For every Jamaican athlete who medals at the Tokyo Games, there is now an even greater incentive as anyone who wins a medal will get a bonus of free insurance for one year.

This latest incentive is one of the benefits from a recent partnership inked between the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and Marathon Insurance Brokers Limited. The partnership is valued at J$12 million and will run for the three-year period leading up to the 2024 Olympic Games.

In reference to the benefits, Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO, JOA, gave a broader perspective of the deal that was announced nearly one week ago.

“The JOA/Marathon partnership was centred around expanding our member services to our associations. For far too long we have looked at sport as just attending Games, but have not done enough to tap into the sport as an avenue for social change,” he said.

“One of the benefits of this partnership is for the direct benefit of our athletes for which all medalists at the Olympic Games will receive free insurance for one year. This is in addition to the comprehensive coverage that Marathon will be providing for all members attending the Olympic Games.”

Marathon Insurance has had a long partnership with the JOA, dating back to the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. This time they will be diving further into the deal with the JOA to deliver projects that involve the Athlete’s Commission and female empowerment through the Women’s Commission.

“The partnership has gone even further as Marathon will be partnering with the JOA and the Women’s Commission and Athlete Commission on various social projects geared towards, including, at-risk girls in sport and the expansion of Olympism values in schools,” Foster shared.

“All of these initiatives will be funded under this partnership and will involve the JOA engaging in providing not just mentoring and educational activities, but will involve nutritional support, school fees and school materials for the selected young athletes."

The Jamaica Football Federation has conveyed a message of congratulations to Christopher Samuda who was overwhelmingly returned as president of the Jamaica Olympic Association during an Extraordinary Annual General Meeting on Saturday.

The noted attorney will serve another four-year term after handsomely defeating challenger Alan Beckford 40-10 in the voting.

The significance of the vote of confidence was not lost on the JFF.

“The Jamaica Football Federation heartily congratulates Mr Christopher Samuda on his re-election as President of the Jamaica Olympic Association,” it said in a statement.

“The overwhelming support given to his re-election is an indication of the quality of leadership he has given, especially as he has extended the support of the JOA to many non-traditional sporting entities even whilst maintaining guidance to the traditional sports.

“The JFF has benefitted in many ways from his stewardship in particular in the recharging of professional football and overall guidance on other initiatives. We extend congratulations to the entire executive including our own Vice President Raymond Anderson and the first female 1st Vice- President of the JOA, Jacqueline Cowan. We look forward to forging an even stronger working relationship with the JOA going forward.”

Cowan of the Jamaica Volleyball Association defeated incumbent first Vice-President Nelson Stokes 29-11.

Robert Scott is the second vice-president after defeating Ian Forbes, 33-17.

Nichole Case was unopposed as treasurer.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), sports’ parent body locally, will be investing $15 million into its Equipment Grant to benefit its member bodies.

Financing for the program was secured through a three-year partnership worth $45 million with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL). At the time when the agreement was signed in April, the JOA had made known its plans to make funds available to sporting associations for equipment, noting that it is critical to building capacity for sport and the performance of athletes.

This is the second activation of the Supreme Ventures partnership with the JOA after they invested $7.5 million in the Jamaica National Trials last month.

Also, for some associations, the acquisition of equipment has been expensive and beyond their grasp, which has consequences for athletes whose daily regimen of exercise constitutes training with equipment, which is vital to their preparation and overall development.

The Equipment Grant is another facet of the JOA’s Olympic Invest initiative that was launched in 2020, which has, among its primary objectives, the sustainability and viability of Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Some of the members that will be benefitting from this grant are Jamaica Triathlon Association, Jamaica Wrestling Federation, Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Jamaica Cricket Association and Jamaica Lawn Bowling Association.

With an oft-expressed view to equip and empower its member associations by providing the means to opportunity and success, the JOA further maintains the provision of the equipment is enabling sport with the required tools of the trade.

This program follows upon the recently announced partnership with select members of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council to raise $200 million through a ‘Dollar Plan’ campaign that will be done later this year. These funds raised will be used to expand the JOA funding portfolio to support a wider diversity in sports over the next quadrennial.

 

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange praised Veronica Campbell-Brown for her outstanding career as Jamaica’s decorated athlete.

As they aspire to achieve loftier goals at sports’ ultimate event, the nation’s latest qualifiers for the Olympic Games and sporting associations they represent, have expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for the assistance afforded in attaining their Tokyo goal.

A pre-Olympic camp in Japan for Jamaican athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics this summer that was being planned by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), has been cancelled because of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the JOA said today in a statement.

According to the JOA, the Tottori Prefectural Government stated that due to the spread of Covid-19, the Japanese Government is imposing strict measures on all local governments hosting pre-Games camps, which are unprecedented and treated as "abnormal circumstances."

The communication from Japan also stated that although the current COVID-19 situation in Tottori Prefecture is not as serious as in other regions, the increasing cases of highly infectious mutant variants and the ongoing state of emergency in Tokyo and in eight other prefectures are raising public sentiments nationwide, which has also increased concerns locally among citizens, healthcare providers and health authorities with regards to hosting the pre-Games camp.

Under the circumstances, the Prefectural Government has been compelled to conclude that it would be extremely difficult to hold a safe and secure camp for Jamaica's athletes as initially planned.

In light of the new measures and policy approach of the Japanese Government, the Prefectural Government was constrained to make new proposals that would make it practically impossible for the camp to take place as the revised timetable would have the delegation arriving practically at the same time as the scheduled opening of the Athletes' Village, which effectively defeat the objectives of holding the camp.

As they set out on the final leg of their Olympic journey, the Jamaica Football Rugby Union (JFRU) is expressing appreciation for the unrelenting support provided by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

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.”

Ever since COVID-19 took real effect on the Jamaican landscape around March 2020, the local sporting fraternity has taken a battering, with the vast majority of disciplines forced off the playground and their architects, the sportsmen and sportswomen, unable to parade their skills.

A record number of coaches across the spectrum of sports have responded to the call of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in respect of a hi-level coaches' course, which will be delivered by Panam Sports in partnership with the Canadian Coaching Association.

 More than 70 stakeholders have registered their commitment to pursue the course, which will cover Coaching Philosophy and Leadership, Advanced Performance Planning, Energy Systems and Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Psychology, Advanced Injury Prevention and Recovery Strategies and High-Performance Analysis.

 The call by JOA is in keeping with its developmental strategies of which education and training are critical elements. In a communique to member federations and stakeholders concerning the course, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, made clear that the game plan of the governing body is "to build capacity for today's feats and tomorrow's legacies".

 The course is part of a suite of educational courses that the apex body is continuing to make accessible to stakeholders and supports the Advanced Sports Management Course (ASMC) which the JOA will, for the first time in its history, make available to a cohort in the Diaspora.

 There has never been a response of this magnitude by the sporting fraternity to any of its coaching initiatives.

In applauding the tremendous response to the coaches' course and the ASMC - which continues to be over-subscribed - JOA Secretary General/CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Our members and stakeholders have not only seized the JOA's vision of the value of education and training but have embraced the known principle that an investment in education pays the best dividends in your working life and is your pension in your twilight years."

The national association for Olympic and non-Olympic sports is driven in creating and investing in lifelong skills and knowledge-based and technically equipped stakeholders. 

Samuda, in commenting on the strategic direction of JOA, stated: "The creation of a sports industry demands a physical and socio-economic infrastructure that is based on viable investments in the human capital and not on hand-outs, for the latter creates a dependency while the former promotes independence and mastery."

 Mastery, in the various disciplines of sport, is the business of the JOA which quite recently also made two calls for opportunities in pursuing master's degrees. The Master of Arts (MA), a postgraduate degree in Sports, Ethics and Integrity, and the Master of Sport Administration (MSP), a postgraduate degree in organizational management, sports marketing and research, are both tenable at international universities.

They will inaugurate an initiative that the JOA has branded ‘Olympic EduPower’ that will provide masters and doctoral educational opportunities for members and stakeholders in empowering them.

 “If sport is to become a sustainable business then the mind must first have and make an educated appointment with destiny, which the body will then be conditioned to keep it," said Samuda.

 Reflecting on Foster's comment last month when announcing that the JOA's pioneering Internship Programme, Samuda said it “is all about self-actualisation and a personal call to own your future in sport”.

 The Internship Programme is currently underway at Olympic Manor, the headquarters of the JOA.

 The JOA will create Olympic history locally, and arguably globally when later this year it makes its Internship Programme available to Jamaicans in the Diaspora. It will also in the second quarter of this year, through its educational ‘Stamina’ forum series roll-out, in collaboration with international federations, customized courses for administrators and coaches as part of its investment in education.

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association and the Olympians Association of Jamaica have paid tribute to Olympian Les Laing, who died on the weekend.

Laing, who was born in Linstead, St Catherine on February 19, 1925, represented Jamaica at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics was a member of the famed 4x400m relay team that won gold in Helsinki. He is the third member of the iconic quartet to have died leaving behind George Rhoden as the only surviving member.

Arthur Wint died in 1992 while Herb McKenley passed in 2007.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) mourns the loss of a member of our household but celebrates the life he lived inspiringly on the track which mirrored the personality of this son of Linstead,” the JOA said in a statement released on Sunday.

“Leslie Alphonso Laing's feats as an Olympian are well documented and we salute him with grateful hands. But more importantly, it is the spirit of the gentlemen which has inspirited generations of athletes and earned the abiding respect of a nation.

“In a world where recorded statistics of sporting achievements are understandably cited in praise of men, the JOA reflects deeply and respectfully on Laing's self-sacrificial service to his country and the soul of his ground-breaking feet.”

Meanwhile, the OAJ described Laing as a hero.

OAJ President Marvin Anderson said he one of the nation's Olympic pioneers.

“Arthur Wint, Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden set a world record 3 minutes 03.9 seconds to defeat a top-class US team at the Games in London,” Anderson said. "His heroic relay run of 47 seconds flat was all the more remarkable because he was a specialist 200-metres man."

Laing, Anderson said, leaves behind a substantial legacy from his days on the track.

“While many Jamaican track stars emerged from the US college circuit, the Linstead-native rose to prominence in Britain as a member of the Polytechnic Harriers Club in London. Fittingly, he made his Olympic debut in that city in 1948, placing sixth in the 200 metres final with McKenley fourth.

 “An injury to Wint in the 4x400 final prompted Laing and his teammates to vow to return and win four years later in Helsinki, Finland. Running faster in every round, Laing became the first Jamaican to reach an Olympic sprint final twice and improved his finish to fifth place. Despite his short stature, he delivered a stout-hearted second leg run to help Jamaica to fulfil the promise made in London.”

 Laing retired after a 1954 season when he narrowly missed taking the sprint double at the CAC Games in Mexico City where he won the 200 and took silver in the 100m.

Laing was recognized by the respected US publication TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, which listed him in its annual world rankings three times - at number 9 in 1948, number 10 in 1949 and at number 9 once more in 1953.

"His accomplishments paved the way for Jamaica in the sprints," Anderson said.

 “In fact, no other Jamaican would reach back-to-back Olympic 200m finals until Don Quarrie did it in 1976 and 1980. Mr Laing was a pioneer who showed us what was possible for us in the 200 and thanks to the start he provided, Jamaica has excelled in that event."

Laing was married to 1948 high jump finalist Carmen Phipps.

 

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