Extra ‘effort’, unbridled joy
Extra 'effort', unbridled joy
Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) executive director, Lorna Bell, has credited her charges for a 'very successful' representation at the recently concluded Special Olympics World Games 2015 in Los Angles, United States of America.
A 69-member contingent returned home last week with 29 medals following intense competition in eight sporting disciplines at the July 25 to August 2 Los Angeles showpiece.
In total, gold came in 10 finals, along with 11 silver and eight bronze. Track and field athletes blazed the trail with 13 medals, which included five individual gold, one female 4x100m gold, two individual silver, four individual bronze, and one male 4x100m bronze medals.
In aquatics, there were two individual gold, three individual silver and one 4x50m relay bronze.
Badminton yielded one individual silver medal and basketball one team silver, while bocce had one team gold, one mixed doubles gold, four individual silver medals, one female doubles bronze, and one male doubles bronze medal.
Basketball's silver was unexpected, according to coach Calvin Martin.
"Going into the tournament, we (basketball team) didn't expect to win any medal.
"Mrs (Lorna) Bell just wanted to start back the programme, so she said, 'Make a team,'" he recalled.
That team finished second behind a more superior Australian team, which Martin said "felt good".
The country's volleyball, female futsal and unified football teams were the only outfits not to medal, as they placed fifth, sixth and fourth, respectively.
"Special Olympics is all about training, and we train right through the year, but we put in a little extra training for the past two and a half years because our athletes were young," Bell explained.
"We had to put in a little more effort, so that is why we feel so overjoyed, because everybody was a bit doubtful," she recalled prior to the Games.
"That is why I am saying to the entire Jamaica, to the ministry of sport, they cannot leave us out of sports tourism; we must be included because we did Brand Jamaica very well," she stated.
Buoyed by that success, Belle said preparations will begin soon for the World Winter Games, scheduled to be hosted in Austria in 2017.
"These Games will be our focus when we return home, as planning has to start now to ensure our athletes receive quality training and also funding," Bell assured.