Local rowing to benefit from Olympic attempt
While the Olympic rowing dream for Jamaica must wait for at least another four years, Jamaica Rowing Federation General Secretary Robert Scott says that they are committed to the long-term goal of eventually making an Olympic appearance in the future.
His comments come in the aftermath of national rower Shaheide Patterson’s unsuccessful attempt at qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics at the Americas Olympic Qualifying Regatta event, held last week Thursday and Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 21-year-old Patterson, competing in his first international event, placed fifth in Thursday’s first round and finished in the same position in Friday’s secondary event, failing to advance to the semi-finals.
However, Scott says that he is not dismayed by the effort shown as he recognised the disadvantage Patterson had in terms of experience and is satisfied that they sent the best representative to compete.
“Even though he (Patterson) did not qualify, we are not disappointed. We know that a first-time qualification in any sport like this where we are just getting in, competing with athletes [who have] on average, seven years of experience would take a lot,” Scott told The Gleaner. “As far as we are concerned, we sent the best we had, and this is to say that this is someone we know who has the ability. He has the strength, and so forth, to compete.”
Patterson’s preparation for the event, which included an overseas training camp in the United States in January 2020, was hampered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the qualifying event to be pushed back a year. He had been using the delay to increase his preparations at home in Jamaica.
Scott says that they are committed to the long-term vision of getting Jamaica’s rowing programme in the Olympics and believes that regular international competition in the region is necessary to build experience and to take the next step in furthering the reach of the sport locally.
“We have to ensure international competitions for our athletes. The fact is that there are not that many competitions this side of the world and because of COVID-19, whatever opportunities existed, vaporised,” Scott said. “So we are anticipating that as some normalcy returns to the world, that we have to find, for want of a better term, friendly competitions so that our athletes have the experience.”
Their strategic plan includes securing and developing talent for future cycles, such as the development of David Bryan, who is being tipped as another potential athlete to contend for future events.
Scott added that the experienced gained by Patterson will serve him well in future attempts.
“We are in this for the long haul, and we recognise that we have to develop the talent, we have to develop our coaches. We have a robust plan that we are looking to build on. I really [want to] thank Mr Patterson because he has made quite a bit of sacrifice to be on this journey, and we know that what he has learnt, he will [use] to the benefit of rowing and for sports generally in Jamaica,” Scott said.