JJA aims for 2020 Olympic Judo participation
If the Jamaica Judo Association (JJA) has its way, the nation could become a top challenger for medals in the sport of judo come 2020 during the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The traditional Japanese wrestling sport is said to reflect values such as self-control, honour, and respect, according to JJA President Dwayne Barnett.
"We are really pleased that we are able to bring judo to Jamaica. Judo is a very unique sport, especially because of its discipline and values. I have known several individuals who benefited from practising Judo to improve their social skills. We are looking forward to not only making olympic champions, but to [creating] a better society by Judo," said Barnett.
The programme, which is already endorsed by the Ministry of Sports and the Jamaica Olympic Association, is already preparing athletes to compete at the sport's highest level.
"There are already some athletes who we are confident about [for] the Olympics. These are individuals who are Jamaicans but who are abroad and training, so we are looking at them for 2020. Beyond 2020, we are looking at training people inside Jamaica so we can have another Usain Bolt success story," said Barnett.
As with most sporting activities in Jamaica, funding tends to be a setback to its success, but Barnett said as it stands, the association has enough money to get the sport off the ground.
"We have partnered up with all the right people, so the International Judo Federation provides us with all the equipment we need, and we have also got another company that we have partnered with from the UK. They are providing us and all the kids [with] uniforms to wear, and they are also going to officially sponsor whichever athlete we select to represent us," said Barnett.
Schools across Jamaica are also set to benefit from the introduction of judo into their sports programmes. At the start of the school year in September, the JJA will begin to deliver judo lessons at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. So far, six schools are on board with the programme. These are Camperdown High School, Jose Marti High School, Wolmers' Boys and Girls' schools, St Jago High, and Kingston College.
An introductory session was conducted at Camperdown, and Barnett said it was well-received by both students and the principal.
Judo sessions will also be offered at community centres for interested persons.
"Not every sport is for everyone; it's not everyone that will be a Usain Bolt or a Yohan Blake," Barnett said. "Different people have to try different things. Someone might be good at running, and someone who is not good at running might be absolutely brilliant at judo."