Two newcomers named on Paralympic team for Rio
Veteran Paralympian Alphonso Cunningham and two newcomers, Shane Hudson and Dana-Gaye Weller, were announced as the three athletes that will represent Jamaica at the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, from September 7-18.
The announcement was made at a press briefing at the Jamaica Olympic Association yesterday.
Cunningham, a former world record holder and many-time gold medallist, will compete in the discus and shot put F53 class. Hudson, a 400 metres silver medallist at last year's World Championships, will be competing at his first Paralympics in the T47 class and will be aiming for gold, while Weller, who will compete in the F51 class in the club throw, will participate internationally for the first time.
Coach of the team Neville Sinclair expects all three athletes to at least be on the medal podium.
"My expectation is that they go there and do their best. We have two persons competing for the first time. Dana-Gaye should be in the final, and once she is in the final, we will take it from there. Shane should be on the medal podium, and based on training and his times, he should get no less than the gold, but at worse, he should finish with a silver," he said.
"Alphonso is the veteran. He has had some hiccups, but he should do himself proud, and I expect him to do well in the shot put and be on the podium. So what they have been doing, in training for the past months, they are going to show it at the Games," he said.
The rest of the delegation includes Javon Campbell (chef de mission), Lincoln Cox (team doctor), Edmund Jones (Paralympic attachÈ), Ann Marie Smith (administrative personnel), Rushane Sterling (massage therapist), Kevin Brown (Web master), Christopher Samuda (president), and Suzanne Harris-Henry (general secretary).
Chef de mission Campbell is set to depart the island next Sunday, August 28, and will arrive in Brazil a day later. The team is due to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on August 31. The Games ends with the closing ceremony on September 18, with the team set to depart Brazil on September 20.
Speaking at the press briefing, Minister of Sports, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange said the Paralympians continued to motivate and inspire all Jamaicans.
"I don't know if you know what an inspiration you all are to our country! You have overcome so many challenges to be performing at such high levels. You demonstrate every day how to be bold when necessary, how to stare adversity in the face, and refuse limitations. Sometimes I put myself in your shoes and wonder if I could have done the things you have," she said.
"We are a small team, and we know you will do your best and you will be satisfied along with your family, coaches, and support team, and the entire nation," Grange added.