Jamaica select 20 for Youth Olympics
Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Twenty youngsters will represent Jamaica in four sports at next month's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China - the second staging of the sports, education and cultural festival.
Set for August 16-28 in the eastern Chinese city, the event will see participation from no less than 168 countries, with Jamaica being represented in athletics, beach volleyball, fencing and swimming.
Fifteen track and field athletes, including standouts Raheem Chambers, Chad Walker, Martin Manley, Jaheel Hyde, Vashon McCarthy and Tiffany James, along with beach volleyball representatives Shavar Bryan and Rojey Hutchinson, Lynn Simms (fencing), Timothy Wynter and Sidrell Williams (swimming), will be looking to add to Odean Skeen's 100m gold medal from the 2010 installment of the Games in Singapore.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) office yesterday, President Mike Fennell highlighted the holistic focus behind the Youth Olympics and encouraged the athletes to make the most of the opportunity.
"We are very fortunate that we have 20 athletes who have qualified to compete at the Youth Olympics. We are very proud about this. I'd like to highlight that the Youth Olympic Games is not like the usual sporting events," Fennell said pointing to mixed relays with athletes from different countries and two-on-two basketball.
"The other important feature is the compulsory element, which is the Cultural Educational Programme. The idea behind that is to help develop the whole person because as young people you realise that you are blessed with certain talents, but that talent has to be blended with body and mind," Fennell added.
"The programme will embrace, to a great extent, the culture of China the host country, but you are also expected to bring to the table the culture from your country as young persons."
Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, also charged the youngsters to grab their chance.
"These Games will provide an international stage for our young men and women to raise the flag once again. It will give them the opportunity for self-affirmation and self-valuation for an international audience for which the disciplines of sport have become not only engaging pastime, but endeavours of excellence," said Neita-Headley.
Former Holmwood Technical sprinter, Kedisha Dallas, now at GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, will travel with the team as the 'Young Ambassador', while Ricardo Chambers from the RJR Communications Group will also make the trip as the 'Young Reporter' and will participate in special activities around the event.