Messages of goodwill highlight Rio send-off
MESSAGES of goodwill were showered on Jamaica's athletes on Monday night as the Brazilian consulate in Kingston hosted a send-off for the nation's track and field athletes who will be competing for medals at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5-21.
The function was partly hosted by telecommunications giants Digicel, sponsors of the Jamaica Olympic team.
Among the dignitaries and politicians who spoke were Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller, Minister of Sports Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, and Brazilian Ambassador Carlos Alberto den Hartog.
Digicel showcased an official 'Bring The Beat' - 'Boa Sorte' wall to Rio banner, which was signed by Holness and other guests, including a few athletes.
"When I was signing, I signed '#nuff medals'. Indeed, that is my wish that Jamaica will take home a healthy medal tally when our athletes do well. We feel good within ourselves, we own our athletes, they are ours and their success is our success," Holness outlined.
He said the Olympians "represent the best of human talent produced in Jamaica and we will show this natural talent at the pinnacle of world competition".
Simpson Miller said: "It is my pleasure to be here to give support. Our athletes are very important. When the going gets bad in Jamaica and they do well overseas, it's like everything is going well, and so, tonight I pray God's guidance and His blessings upon the team that will represent our beautiful island. I know they will do well. It is in our DNA."
Ambassador Hartog expects a good Jamaican performance.
"We all believe and expect that the Jamaican team will win many medals in Rio," he said. "Jamaican athletes have proven time and again that they are not only very good, but they improve." he added.
Grange credited the 'team behind the team'.
"We know that behind every athlete, there are coaches, managers, medical personnel, family members and all other persons who support the athletes, and tonight, I want to say thank you for supporting them. I want to ask you to give those behind the scenes a big round of applause," Grange reasoned.
Patrick King, director of customer solutions at Digicel, assessed Jamaica's real strength in athletics.
"There are two athletic superpowers in the world, they say. One country has 311 million people, and that is the United States; and the other athletic power is Jamaica, 2.8 million people, less than one percent by my maths, and to be here to send off one of the athletic superpowers is very privileged," King noted.