Former president of the Jamaica Badminton Association (JBA) Robert Richards and currrent vice-president Audley Astwood will be contesting the race for president at the annual general meeting of the association which is set for the Jamaica Olympic Association office today, starting at 2:30 p.m.
Richards, who played and worked in different capacities in the sport for more than 20 years, had many achievements to his name as a player and administrator. He still remains the youngest person to win the All Jamaica senior title at age 17 and won that title 13 times after.
During his tenure as president, badminton became the second sport, after the national football team, to get full travel sponsorship through American Airlines. It was also the first time and still remains the most funding the sport has ever received. It helped to raise the profile of the sport, developed and built the first inner-city rackets programme and helped in Jamaica's first bid to have players qualify for the Olympics. At that time, Jamaica, for the first time in its history, had up to four players ranked in the top 100, with a doubles pair being ranked at 28 at one time.
Richards brings to the table a team comprising of past players and businessmen. They include David Thomas, Garth King, an All Jamaica & Caribbean Champion, Garth Walker, another All Jamaica champion and past president Joseph Clarke, who is now one of the country's senior umpires.
In a release to the media, Richards said the above and other individuals, who have the love for the sport at hand, will play key roles on both the executive and special committees that will need to be put in place for the sport to get back on track.
Astwood has served badminton in various capacities for more than 20 years, and he is also the current president of Caribbean Regional Badminton Confederation.
On Astwood's slate are: Vishu Tolan, first vice-president; Linley Reynolds - second VP, Kiesha Lindsay - secretary; Jermaine Rowe - treasurer; Sean Forrester - councillor; Alec Tomlin - councillor; Richard 'Gregory' Wong - councillor; Vinette Rowe - councillor.
Astwood's plans include a revival of the club league, the upgrading of coaches and umpires to international level and an emphasis on under 11 and 13 players so that we may take advantage of the 12 spots available to us next year in each of those age groups.