Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Jamaica had three athletes participating in the recently concluded London Paralympics Games, with all featuring in field events.
Jamaica's Paralympic Association President Christopher Samuda now wants the country to be represented in other sporting disciplines at upcoming international events.
"The Paralympics spirit of Jamaica will next year, and the years to come, take flight and cover non-traditional events in fulfilling one of our primary mandates, which is to take our presence and dominance beyond track and field in international competition," Samuda said following the arrival of the contingent on Wednesday at the Norman Manley International Airport.
Jamaica's three representatives were Alphanso Cunningham, who won the team's lone medal, a gold in the men's F52/53 javelin with a personal best, national record and regional record throw of 21.84m. Team captain Tanto Campbell and Sylvia Grant competed in the finals of the men's discus throw-F54/55/56 and women's javelin throw - F57/58 respectively.
Samuda will embark on a national drive to secure talent for the various events, as he believes there is a wealth of talent in the disabled community.
"We are going to garner that talent and we will be able to convert that talent by the time Rio de Janeiro (Paralympics) comes around," Samuda said.
Some of the events that Samuda has in mind are wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball, archery and pistol shooting.
"I think it is critical that we break into non-traditional disciplines to explode the myth that our talent only resides in track and field," Samuda said. "We need to ensure that a programme is in place to diversify the talent and at least dominate in events other than track and field," he added.
Corporate support needed
In order for his dream to be realised, Samuda knows that corporate support is required, but believes the assistance cannot stop there.
"Support has to go beyond the sponsorship dollar, my athletes need much more," Samuda said. "What we have to do, and one of the ways to convince persons to be persuaded to our cause, is our performance, and we have demonstrated that at the London 2012 Paralympics."
Support is already looming in the form of a 5K run/walk that Digicel will be staging in downtown Kingston on October 20 at 7 p.m. It will cost persons $1,000 to register, with the proceeds going to: The Jamaica Association for the Deaf, The Jamaica Society for the Blind, The Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities, The Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA), The STEP Centre, The Mustard Seed Communities, NAZ Children's Centre and The Randolph Lopez School of Hope.