Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Skateboarding eager to restart Olympic chase

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2020 | 12:15 AM
From left: Ryan Foster, president of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL); Tafari Whitter, national skateboarder; Mario Notice, national skateboarder; Christopher Samuda, Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president; and Steve Douglas, vice-president, SJL, pose during a courtesy call at the JOA headquarters.
From left: Ryan Foster, president of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL); Tafari Whitter, national skateboarder; Mario Notice, national skateboarder; Christopher Samuda, Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president; and Steve Douglas, vice-president, SJL, pose during a courtesy call at the JOA headquarters.

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL), the Olympic representative body for the sport in this country, has targeted growing the sport and its athletes as a major priority.

President of SJL Ryan Foster highlighted key areas for the roll-out of this development for the sport to gather some speed as the country begins to relax measures for safeguarding citizens owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before tightened safety measures globally, Jamaica’s Tafari Whitter was busy on the trail towards securing qualification to the Olympic Games that were scheduled for Tokyo, Japan, this summer. As a consequence of the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been shifted to next year, and Foster, who is also chief executive officer and secretary general of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), outlined their desire of pursuing that primary goal of having historic Jamaican and regional representation while also creating a pathway for all-round growth of the sport and its participants.

Foster said: “Despite the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021, the skateboarding dream continues. The pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of our qualifiers, as well as it has hampered our athletes’ ability to train. However, we have remained positive that we will be able to resume our programme shortly and continue our journey of qualifying the first Caribbean country in the sport.”

Steve Douglas, vice-president, SJL, stated a similar view and confidence in Jamaica’s quest.

“The next Olympics is going to display great talents as there is sufficient time to prepare, train, and participate in the qualifying competitions. The SJL recent world ranking of 114 by Whitter for Jamaica’s skateboarding Olympic team has put Jamaica in a solid position for qualifying for the 2020 Olympics,” Douglas observed.

ACTIVELY ENGAGED

Whitter was actively engaged on that path in World Skate’s Open Street qualifiers on the international stage, placing 27th at the last event – in Rio de Janeiro last January.

Whitter, 22, noted his joy and commitment at representing Jamaica and expressed gratitude for the support he has received from his affiliated local sporting bodies.

California-based Whitter said: “I’m a happy born Jamaican, and I am grateful for the JOA and SJL, most importantly, my roots and love for skateboarding, because without my roots, I wouldn’t be here where I am today training, competing and travelling with the team, my family.”

Given Jamaica’s fairly new quest for Olympic qualification, the JOA had announced plans to assist SJL by developing skate parks here to facilitate growing participation locally and training bases for its national representatives.

“We are actively looking at supporting our athletes and, by extension, to continue to grow the sport in the island and regionally. Qualification to the Olympics is one of our main objectives, but long term, we want to develop a sustainable model for the longevity of skateboarding across the country,” Foster shared.