Fri | Feb 21, 2020

JAGA seeks gym-building assistance

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:22 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter

From working tirelessly to reinstate Jamaica into the International Gymnastics Federation (IGF), to funding a gym out of her own pocket, Nicole Grant-Brown, the president of the Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JAGA), has gone above and beyond to grow the sport in Jamaica.

But Grant-Brown, who can be credited for Toni-Ann Williams’ historic participation in the sport at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, and Danusia Francis’ early qualification for next year’s showpiece in Tokyo, is calling on corporate Jamaica assist in not only bolstering the group that will don the black, green and gold at the upcoming Olympics, but also to lay the foundation for the country to be able to produce world-class gymnasts on a consistent basis.

“We would like a company that can partner with us as we grow,” she said. “We have approached so many companies but many of them are saying that they are already attached to a federation. But I know that gymnastics has the potential grow their brands because we have already one representative in Olympics and we are looking to add at least three more people to that. Right now we don’t have a sponsor. We are trying to ­complete our gym to continue to grow the sport.”

Grant-Brown is hoping that Williams and the pair of 15-year-old Danyella Richards and Jamilia Duffus, who were trained here in Jamaica, along with their male counterpart Reece Beckford, can join Francis in qualifying for the Games.

The gymnasts are set to participate in the Pan American Gymnastics Championships, a qualifier for the Olympic Games, in March next year.

“We are proud of Danyella and Jamilia because they trained most of their lives here, working on the hard concrete and to see where they are now where they compete with the ones from abroad we are proud,” she said.

Grant-Brown believes that her administration and local coaches have what it takes to make world-class gymnasts if they could get help to finish the gym.

“Most of the equipment that we have in the gym right now are for females and they were contributed by the Chinese Government. So we would like to get some things for the males,” she explained.

Grant-Brown became the president of the local association five years after the world governing body, IGF, deregistered them back in 2010. She worked assiduously with the Jamaica Olympic Association to be reinstated for Williams to qualify and participate in the 2016 Games and now she says she is in dire need to build on that legacy.

“We have the talent here. I think if we have a sponsor we could put the pieces together where we hire a national coach who would help to develop our local coaches and then we can consistently produce world-class athletes,” Grant-Brown said.