Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Dalton Myers | Exciting year ahead for Team Jamaica

Published:Saturday | January 5, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz
Members of Jamaica's national senior women's netball team, the Sunshine Girls, huddle during a match against England in the Sunshine Series last year at the National Indoor Sports Centre.
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Jamaica, with a population of just over 2.6 million, has been punching above its weight in sports, and 2019 has the potential to be another important year in its rich sporting history.

This year, several sportsmen and sportswomen will embark on qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as well as the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Additionally, the netball team will be engaging in fierce competition at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, while our track and field team looks to its first major competition without Usain Bolt in over a decade at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The Reggae Girlz will also be clashing with the world's best at the FIFA Women's World Cup in France.

 

Big on track

 

Jamaica is big on track and field, and this year should be no different. Many of our athletes will be looking to make the national team for the September 28 to October 6 event in Doha. Expect to see some new faces to accompany the veterans in the championships.

The IAAF World Relays in Japan in May should also have good participation from Jamaicans. However, before we get there, expect to see several athletes on the IAAF World Indoor Tour, even though there is no Indoor Championships this year. Importantly, they will compete in respective IAAF Diamond League and World Challenge meetings.

This season's Diamond League will be important because unlike previous editions, where winners received wild-card entries to the following year's World Championships, this year's Diamond League winners will be awarded for the 2019 global meet. In total, we should have six indoor meetings, 14 Diamond League events, eight World Challenge meetings, our own Racers Grand Prix, and several developmental meets locally, as well as other meetings on the European circuit.

Team Jamaica will also be looking forward to the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games in San Diego, USA, in October. With our success in sports such as beach volleyball, beach football, and surfing, I would hope that we can qualify for this elite competition and once again make our mark on the world stage. This is one area with immense potential for us. Beach sports are attractive to marketers worldwide, and hopefully, we can look to develop traditional as well as niche areas, such as beach wrestling and beach handball locally.

From July 26 to August 11, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) will field a delegation to the XVIII Pan American Games, and later, the Jamaica Paralympic team journeys to the ParaPan Am Games, both in Peru. Dubbed by the JOA as 'Lima Invasion', the mission is to have the largest ever Jamaican contingent. I am fortunate to be part of the team working on this project and am absolutely fascinated by the amount of work our athletes are putting in. Over 300 athletes are expected to make the journey with team sports such as football, volleyball, and rugby having already qualified.

Preparation should already be in high gear for Tokyo 2020. The JOA has a vision of 10-in-20, having 10 sports qualify for those games.

 

Diverse range

 

The aim is to have a diverse range of disciplines represented at global events.

Finally, and most importantly, this year, our attention will be on the FIFA Women's World Cup in France as the historic Reggae Girlz compete with the world's best. This should be one of the biggest events for Jamaica in 2019 and something to look forward to.

So, it could be an exciting year on the international scene for Team Jamaica. Locally, we should continue to host major competitions while engaging in training and developing for our athletes, coaches and officials. Our local events should remain as platforms for athletes to move to the next level.

Our athletes need our support at these local events. This is where the support should start, not just when they become world beaters.

This should also extend beyond track and field to include football, gymnastics, weightlifting, badminton, table tennis, shooting, and the list goes on. A good year for Jamaica lies ahead.

- Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com or tweet @daltonsmyers