JAVA hunting beach volleyball berth in Rio
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is just over a year away and Jamaica Volleyball Association's (JAVA) president Rudolph Speid is laying the groundwork for a Jamaican beach volleyball team to play in the Games for the first time.
First, the president, intends to make a statement by hosting a historic women's beach volleyball Olympic Qualifier and Caribbean Beach Volleyball Championships. It will be staged at the Ocho Rios Bay Beach in St Ann from May 1-3.
"We (JAVA) decided to host this tournament because beach volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world and this event is actually the first round qualifier for the Rio Olympics 2016," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
Four teams will advance to the second-round play-off from the May tournament and get the chance to face the best in the North, Central America, and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) region. A total of five teams will get the chance to qualify for Rio 2016 from the region.
"We are definitely working to qualify for the Olympics, it's going to be hard though. But once we win and we go through the Caribbean round, and we have more money put in, and more training, we can qualify," assured Speid.
"We have natural athletes. We are as good as other athletes in the world in any sport. It's just the training and the resources to put behind those people that we need," he assessed.
confident in our athletes
"It's a big risk to host any event, but we (JAVA) are confident that our athletes will progress.
"We are about 60 per cent there. We have already met with the mayor of St Ann and his team. We met with the police, the fire chief, the Ministry of Health and the Urban Development Corporation is becoming a great sponsor for us. They have allowed us to use the beach for free," he noted of next month's championship.
Speid added that the people in St Ann are encouraged by the event.
"It's the first time an Olympic qualifying event is being held in St Ann, and once this tournament is a success, we are talking about NORCECA tours and other international volleyball tours and so on coming to Jamaica. The sky is the limit once this is a success," he stressed.
Jamaica's two female teams - Danielle Perry and Alicia Malcolm and the duo of Sasha Lee Wallen and Kai Wright will be looking to progress from May's tournament. If they make it to the final round they will face the top teams in NORCECA from countries such as the United States, Dominica Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada.