Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Most of Jamaica's 24-member team, which created history at the recently concluded IAAF World Youth Championships, will be rewarded with free tertiary-level education, if they so wish to take up the offer.
The athletes, who became the country's first team to top a medals table at a global athletics meet, were greeted by the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, other government ministers and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president, Dr Warren Blake, upon arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.
The 34 members of the contingent, which also comprised nine officials, were all presented with special certificates signed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, to recognise their accomplishment.
"It is something that we are considering seriously; the discussions are to be had with the various institutions to provide scholarships for the team members, those who are interested," Neita-Headley said.
PAVING THE WAY FORWARD
"We believe that they must also be exposed to continuing their education at the tertiary level and we would want to be able to assist them in that way in providing scholarships as they go forward."
Dr Blake deemed it a good time to be at the helm of the association, when Jamaica is able to top a medal table over the likes of the USA, having won six gold and two bronze medals.
"It is a good time to be the leader of the association, because it is the first time at a global event that Jamaica has topped the medal table and it is always the quality of medals that count," he said. "We have always been getting the numbers, but the USA has always been reminding us that it is the quality of medals that counts, and in this case we got the best quality of medals."
The team had serious challenges getting to Ukraine, but, nevertheless, head coach Michael Carr and his staff were able to get the best out of the youngsters.
"We went through a lot of adversities, but at the end of the day we turned those into positive things," Carr shared. "It could not have been done without the support of all my fellow staff members and the athletes themselves.
"One of the main things is that the athletes responded to instructions and it made our jobs that much easier."
Carr enjoyed the individual success of all the athletes, but took particular delight in Yanique Thompson's 100m hurdles victory, which came in a World Youth record time of 12.94 seconds; and the boys' Swedish medley relay team which also triumphed in a World Youth leading time of one minute, 49.23 seconds.
Team captain Michael O'Hara, who after placing fourth in the boys' 100m recovered to capture the boys' 200m in a World Youth leading 20.63 seconds, was very pleased with his and his team-mates' performances.
"The championship was great for me, we had some brilliant performances that surprised me and my teammates," O'Hara said. "It was a great experience for everybody; we just had to refocus, as we had a bumpy ride going to Ukraine."