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Gov't looking to boost 'Winter' programme

Published:Thursday | March 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Following Errol Kerr's impressive ninth-place finish in the skicross competition while representing Jamaica at last month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange is making plans to put in place a serious programme to offer greater support for future winter athletes.

To this end, the minister has invited a number of Canadian based ice skaters - all of whom are said to be of Jamaican heritage - to assist with developing the programme; and is also getting ready to engage the diaspora as she leads a drive to solicit support for the country's anomalous Winter Olympics ambitions.

Said Grange: "I am also having discussions with ice skaters out of Canada of Jamaican heritage and I have a plan to mobilise the Jamaican diaspora to support our Winter Olympics programme."

Grange, who made the disclosure during a recent interview with
The Gleaner
, is also having discussion with Sports Development Foundation (SDF) chairman, David Mais, about the establishment of a structured system to aid Kerr's development and that of the national bobsled programme.

The latter shot to fame when a team headed by Chris Stokes, who served as chef de mission during the Vancouver Games, qualified for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada.

"I have spoken to Mr (David) Mais at the SDF and told him that we are going to have to talk about putting in a structured programme to support Errol (Kerr) and the bobsled team as well as the overall Winter Olympics programme," Grange noted.

The minister admitted that she was extremely impressed with Kerr's effort at the Games and underlined her belief that with the right support, the 23-year-old will be in a better position to secure the island's first medal at the Winter Games.


"I really admire his (Kerr's) courage, it was a very daring and dangerous event and he was the youngest one who participated in it and when I saw how he went out there and gave his all beside all those mature veteran skiers, I said to myself, 'Errol Kerr will one day be a gold medallist in the Olympics and we have to continue to give him support'," Grange stated. "The country is fully behind him. We believe that he is just beginning and so we are here to back him."

She added: "He has a lot of years ahead of him because he is very young, so we (Government) are still confident about the awesome possibilities that exist and also about his tremendous potential. And we won't stop until he medals."