Tue | Jan 26, 2021

The other guys - Officials of less popular local sports weigh in on Olympics postponement

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Members of Shotokan Karate Jamaica perform a demonstration for the audience at the Embassy of Japan’s Japan Day held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday, February 2, 2020. Karate is one of the sporting disciplines where the nation is interested in fielding athletes for the Tokyo Olympics.

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has pushed back the ambitions of sports with lesser profiles in Jamaica looking to break through on the international stage. However, some sporting associations are taking a more optimistic view of the current situation.

After pushback from athletes and countries, the International Olympic Committee, in a joint statement with the local organising committee confirmed the decision to put off the games until the summer of 2021 on Tuesday, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Jamaica is targeting Olympic berths in disciplines such as rugby, karate, judo, wrestling, and badminton. Rowing and skateboarding, believe that they see unexpected advantages in the current climate.

Jamaica Rowing Federation general secretary Robert Scott says that he is not dismayed by the postponement as the extra year provides a chance for representative Shahiede Patterson to gain more experience, as well as the opportunity for another entrant to compete.

Opportunity to adjust

“What this does is it affords us the opportunity to adjust the training programme for Mr Patterson,” Scott said. “As far as we are concerned this is advantageous for Jamaica in rowing because he still has less than the seven years’ experience that the typical rower will have. So this will allow him to gain one more year’s maturity under his belt, an opportunity for him to strengthen and someone we had in the wings may also be engaged to train for the programme.”

Skateboarding, which was added to the Games’ portfolio recently, is another discipline Jamaica has shown interest in recently. Tafari Whitter, Andre Beverley and Jafin Garvey are the three representatives vying for qualification. While Jamaica Skateboarding Federation president Ryan Foster is of the same view that the delay extends the training opportunities for the athletes who are based in the United States, he thinks that it allows more time for recruitment and to give the sport more exposure locally.

“From a time standpoint, it would have given our athletes more time to prepare, but will all that is happening in the world, there is no where that they can actually train because all are residents in the United States, which is now under quarantine in terms of the skate parks,” Foster said. “However, it does give us an opportunity to look at other athletes other than the three that are now in contention to participate in the Olympics.”

While the details of the rescheduled qualifiers are still to be determined, Jamaica Olympic Association president Christopher Samuda has re-emphasised his support to the various federations.

“Whatever commitments we have made in respect of the Olympics to the associations will be [honoured],” he said.