'A very successful year' - Grange reflects on 2018, looks ahead to 2019
Sports Minister Olivia Grange says Jamaica's athletes in all disciplines performed excellently, reached new heights of achievement, and represented, the nation well throughout 2018.
"Among the most notable achievements was the historic qualification of the Reggae Girlz to the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time," Grange told The Gleaner. "The Rugby Sevens team also created history, qualifying for the World Cup Sevens. Alia Atkinson continued her great form in the pool, breaking record after record, and Fedrick Dacres in discus.
"This year, the Sunshine Girls celebrated 60 years and remained one of the most successful teams in the Caribbean, achieving the silver medal at the Fast5 Netball World Series and bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games."
Grange, also the Gender Affairs Minister, also cited the move to bring parity between male and female competitions at the primary school level of competition.
"This, I hope, will help to change the current situation at all levels of sport in which women do not get adequate funding, support or prize money," she said. "It was important that we, as government lead the process at an early stage."
The minister said she was also very happy that the government implemented its sport cooperation agreement with China, which she describes as historic. Under this agreement, she says, 400 athletes will receive what she describes as "expert training" over three years.
Grange said she is anticipating a positive start to 2019 as several sports development and infrastructural projects are in the works by the Government.
"In early 2019, I hope to conclude a sport cooperation agreement with Chile and other countries, and these initiatives will be beneficial to Jamaica, especially our athletes and coaches," she said.
"Work begins on the Stadium East Track early January 2019 to be completed in time for the Gibson/McCook Relays. We will continue our programme of upgrading existing sport facilities in schools and communities as well as construction of new ones.
"I express my sincere gratitude to the private sector and civil society for their contribution and wish to encourage others to come on board and support sports development at all levels."