Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Honour our sporting stars - Holness

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMShayne Fairman
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) shares the stage with former West Indies great Courtney Walsh (centre) and recipient of the 2016 Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence Tamar Lambert during a recent ceremony at Terra Nova hotel. Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence CeremonyFrom left: CEO of the CHASE Fund W. Billy Heaven, Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence winner Tamar Lambert, Courtney Walsh, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and CHASE Fund chairman Phillip Henriques

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, while describing the country's athletes as national assets, is calling on Jamaican sporting bodies to continue recognising and rewarding the work put in by sports stars.

Holness gave the main address at this year's 12th annual Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence, which was held at the Terra Nova Hotel in New Kingston last Wednesday.

Speaking at the event, he acknowledged the work of sports ambassadors like West Indies fast bowling legend Courtney Walsh and Usain Bolt.

"Sports is a big thing for Jamaica. It is part of our national assets. It is a treasure for us. Aside from our culture, sports is the next big thing that drives brand Jamaica," Holness told the gathering.

"Having observed our achievements in sports over the years, it is very important that we recognise and award our athletes," Holness noted before sharing recent experiences at the United Nations.

"They weren't asking me about any problems in Jamaica. They were asking me, 'So how is it to meet Bolt?', and one even said to me, 'How does it feel that, to you as prime minister, Bolt is more popular than you are?'," he said of the nine-time Olympic gold medalist's influence world-wide.

Holness said that although his international colleagues' comments were made out of respect and humour, Jamaica's athletes are loved greatly.

"It is incredible the level of access and attention that our athletes bring to our country. They deserve every accolade. They really deserve it because without their performance, we really would have to ask ourselves, where would Jamaica be?" the prime minister questioned.

"Our sporting achievements continue to earn us international recognition and undoubtedly warrant national recognition through awards like these," added Holness.