Jamaica surf to lobby for Olympic qualifying event
Last August, the decision was taken to include surfing as an Olympic sport, adding it to the 2022 Games in Tokyo, Japan.
According to Jamaica Surfing Association President Billy Wilmot, his association will push the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to certify one of their two international surf competitions as an Olympic qualifying event.
Jamaica host two major surf competitions annually, the MAKKA PRO championship in St Thomas and the Palisadoes leg of the JSE Jamaica National Open series, and Wilmot is hoping to persuade the IOC to accept one of these competitions as an Olympic qualifier.
"Surfing has been included in the Olympics for the first time ... and since we have been hosting an international event for the past 10 years, we are hoping we can get our annual event to be considered as an Olympic qualifying event, even if it is for the first round of elimination," he told The Gleaner.
The format for elimination and qualification is still being considered by the IOC.
Qualifying for the Games is also a major ambition of the long-serving president, who has almost single-handedly taken surfing from nothing to being a recognised sport locally.
"We are looking at the necessary qualifications for a Jamaican team to see how far we can go," added Wilmot.
Being a part of the Olympic Movement now means the Jamaica Surfing Association has the chance to access even more funding, and Wilmot says they are taking advantage of these new opportunities.
"The Olympics put us in a different position. Before we didn't have access to IOC and, by extension, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), so we couldn't access funding, although surfing is a sport the IOC recognised as an international sport; but it was not an Olympic sport.
"As a result of this new development, there is an opportunity to access international and local Olympic funding. We are in the process of putting together a four-year development plan to approach the Olympic Solidarity Fund to get assistance for three or four top-tier surfers, to see how we can help develop their surfing potential," he said.