The Jamaican Olympic Association says the 2018 Commonwealth Games will showcase its emergence as a powerhouse in international sport.
JOA President Christopher Samuda says the sporting body had transformed itself in the past 20 years and the country’s sporting performances have benefited significantly.
At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Jamaica won no gold medals and at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, the country won four medals.
Since then Jamaica has dramatically improved the professionalism of its training programs to such an extent that it was now attracting athletes from around the world to train at the Caribbean country.
Mr Samuda said less than 20 years ago Jamaican athletes had to win a scholarship to a US College to advance their sporting careers.
“At the Rio Olympics, Jamaica won six gold medals and 11 medals in total and we are very hopeful of performing well at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia,’’ he said.
“Now, Jamaica is increasingly becoming a training destination for athletes around the world.
“For us, success is not simply an event or a feat … it is a process, a journey with life-changing experiences and an accomplished and, in some instances, an extraordinary result.”
Mr Samuda said Jamaica was well on the path to becoming a “game changer” in the global $US3 trillion global sport industry.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved so far but we are not resting on our laurels,’’ he said. “We want to position the JOA as an authority and a reference point in global sport.”
Education and training is a primary focus of JOA’s immediate plans.
“We will have ongoing training for athletes, coaches, managers, administrators and technical officials and we will continue to establish Jamaica as a leader in physical education and sports sciences, research and commerce,’’ Mr Samuda said.
“Brand Jamaica is globally powerful as an amalgam of distinctly Jamaican traits and achievement in sports, music and the arts, and we will continue to help grow the country’s international reputation.”
Mr Samuda said the new JOA board had implemented further changes this year to improve governance and the performance of its member organisations.
“We are introducing term limits for directors to allow for succession and renewal while retaining the value of pioneers in an advisory role,’’ he said.
“The performance of directors will also be evaluated throughout their terms to ensure they are performing their duties effectively and in a responsible way.
“JOA is also appointing a new chief executive officer to manage the affairs of the association and a business development officer to help member organisations develop their revenue models.
Mr Samuda said the association had introduced a new “Association Draft” for each member sport to identify new talent, refresh the pool of existing athletes and increase the national profile of Jamaican sport.
“As part of this, JOA is increasing funding to member associations for athlete development and welfare, technical assistance, travel and accommodation, equipment and attendance at overseas conferences,’’ said Mr Samuda.
JOA President Christopher Samuda says the Jamaican Commonwealth Manor will be become a central hub for celebrations, meetings and VIP functions during the two weeks of the Games. —