Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Jamaica's Paralympics team returned to the island yesterday to much fanfare, as they were greeted and fêted at the Government of Jamaica's VIP Lounge at the Noman Manley International Airport.
The welcome-home function, which lasted in excess of two hours, featured addresses from the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley; president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mike Fennell; president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, Christopher Samuda; sponsors Digicel and Newport Fersan, and members of the team.
The team to the 14th Paralympics Games, which was held between August 29 and September 9 in England, consisted of 12 members - six athletes and six officials.
Alphanso Campbell won the team's lone medal, as he took gold in the men's F52/53 javelin with a personal best, national record and regional record throw of 21.84m, while team captain Tanto Campbell and Sylvia Grant made it to the finals of the men's discus throw - F54/55/56 and women's javelin - F57/58, respectively.
The other three athletes - Javon Campbell, Toni Greaves and Shane Hudson - were not able to compete for various reasons.
Campbell was deemed too strong to be a Paralympian after winning the 200m and 100m at the United States trials, where he participated as a prerequisite for classification.
"We took issue in that we had appealed the decision and, in fact, when I went to London I had a meeting with the CEO of IPC (International Paralympics Com-mittee)," Samuda said.
"Regrettably, we could not have him participate in London, but I have received somewhat of a commitment from IPC that they will review the rules in relation to particular in motion assessment - that is assessing the athlete while he is in fact running, which I think is a critical determinant of any classification," he added.
As it relates to Greaves and Hudson, they were not allowed to compete, as the country was only permitted to have three athletes participate.
"We are going to advocate for a change in that system, because as it presently exists it does not guarantee the best at the Paralympics," Samuda said.
"As a matter of fact, Shane (Hudson), who won the silver medal at the Parapan American Games last year, his time was better than the gold medal winning time at the Paralympics," he added.
Neita-Headley pledged her commitment to working with Samuda in lobbying the IPC to change the rule limiting the number of places allotted to each country.
"The discussion, as it relates to the IPC rules and why it is that some of you were not able to participate this year, is something about which I am going to work closely with your president to ensure that every single competent Paralympian gets an opportunity to participate as long as they qualify," Neita-Headley said.
Samuda is proposing that the same qualification standard used for the Olympics be used for the Paralympics where the top three persons in each event at the National Trials are allowed to compete once they meet the A qualifying standard.