Sun | Sep 19, 2021

It’s Tokyo time!

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Ricardo Brown all set to bear Jamaica flag at Olympic Games opening ceremony today

Published:Friday | July 23, 2021 | 12:11 AMAudley Boyd/Gleaner Writer
FRASER-PRYCE
FRASER-PRYCE

MUCH-LOVED and decorated track and field athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and first-time qualifier boxer Ricardo Brown will be Jamaica’s flag bearers when the COVID-19 pandemic, year-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games officially get under way with its traditional glitzy parade of countries and opening ceremony today at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.

The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests, and media will attend.

A two-time Olympic 100m and reigning National 100 and 200m champion, Fraser-Pryce headlines Jamaica’s 61-member team, which comprises 32 females and 29 males. Track and field action begins on July 30.

A total of 11,091 athletes are expected to compete at the Games in 41 different sports and 339 events.

BOXING REPRESENTATIVE

Brown, a super heavyweight boxer, is the first to represent Jamaica in boxing at the Games since 1996 in Atlanta. The 31-year-old, known widely as ‘Big 12’, won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, in 2019 and is ranked number four in the Americas in his weight class.

As COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the Tokyo Olympics qualifying events, points accumulated from that and other events such as the last two World Boxing Championships were used to approve Tokyo status for boxers, and Brown earned his ticket via that route.

Brown numbers among five other sporting disciplines that will be leading Jamaica’s charge alongside the powerful and renowned track and field contingent leading Jamaica’s medal chase. Swimming sensation and leading contender on the sport’s Grand Prix circuit Alia Atkinson is a five-time Olympian carrying hopes for medals in the pool with Keanan Dols. Yona Knight-Wisdom, in his second Olympic Games, also competes in the pool in the discipline of diving, while Ebony Drysdale-Daley in judo, and Danusia Francis, artistic gymnastics, will be competing off the track.

On the track, defending sprint double champion Elaine Thompson Herah, with a personal best 21.78 seconds and season’s best 22.02s, has been running into good form lately and will be looking to repeat her glorifying performances from Rio 2016, where she took the 100 and 200m gold medals.

MEDAL PROMISE

In addition to 100m national record holder Fraser-Pryce (10.63s), who ran a personal and season best 21.79s over 200m, Shericka Jackson, with 10.77s and 21.82s, personal bests over 100 and 200m, completes an interesting Jamaica women’s sprint line-up that is loaded with medal promise.

Jumpers Tajay Gayle, the 2019 World champion, and Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams are also expected to produce strong performances in the sand pits.

In total, Jamaica’s delegation comprises 97 members, headed by Chef de Mission Gary Peart. Along with Peart, there are 16 other Jamaica Olympic Association officials, six coaches, four massage therapists, four personal coaches, three management officials, one track and field training partner and medical doctor, Dr Warren Blake, the former resident of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.

The opening ceremony will air at 5:55 a.m. Jamaica time.

audley.boyd@gleanerjm.com