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Heavyweights square off in JOA battle

Published:Tuesday | June 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Vishu Tolan
Christopher Samuda

Current secretary general Christopher Samuda and first vice president Vishu Tolan are expected to be confirmed as the only candidates for the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) presidency, when nominations close today.

Both are looking to replace outgoing president Mike Fennell, who is not seeking re-election; bringing to an end a stellar and unbroken 40-year reign at the helm of Jamaica's Olympic movement.

The elections are set to take place at the JOA's office on Cunningham Avenue in Kingston on June 27 with 36 sporting associations holding one vote for each position.

Several of the island's leading sports administrators will be going up against each other for positions within the organisation.

According to information reaching The Gleaner, Samuda's slate is expected to include president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation Nelson Stokes, who is challenging for the first vice president post, Alan Beckford (general secretary) and general secretary of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Garth Gayle who is seeking the post of second vice president.




Interestingly, there seems to be a split in the JAAA with president Warren Blake going in the opposite direction of his general secretary, by supporting and appearing on the slate of Tolan, the former president of the Jamaica Badminton Association.

Also present on Tolan's slate are former Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard, Major Desmon Brown, general manager at Independence Park Limited and Stephen Jones, president of the Jamaica Boxing Board.

Molly Rhone, president of the International Netball Federation, who is the incumbent second vice president of the organisation, is not expected to feature on any of the two slates.

Fennell has led the JOA since 1977 and also served as president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Tolan, a businessman and vice president of the Badminton World Federation, was president of the Jamaica Badminton Association from 2005 to 2013. He also brings regional experience having served as general secretary of the sport's Pan American Confederation and became president the Central America and Caribbean Badminton Confederation in 2010.

Samuda is an attorney and is the currently the president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association.

Meanwhile, Tolan, who would not confirm his slate, believes that his team presents the best option to drive the JOA forward.

"I have decided to run for president, I have been involved for the last four years and there is a need for continued good leadership now that Mike Fennell has decided he will not seek re-election," Tolan told The Gleaner. "My chances are as good as anyone's. The team that we have assembled - this is a team, not a slate, they want to serve sports and they come from a cross section of sporting bodies.

Whether it is minor sports, major sports and I believe that this is a team with strong professionalism and persons who have proven to be very good sporting administrators."

Samuda was said to be off the island yesterday and could not be reached for comment.