Daegu volunteer jets off
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Zari-Jane Coleman, the 18-year-old former Immaculate Conception student, who will be carrying Jamaica's flag during the opening ceremony of next week's IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea, left the island early yesterday morning for the Asian country and should arrive tomorrow ahead of the August 27 to September 4 championships.
Coleman - it must be noted, will not actually lead the Jamaican team into the Daegu Stadium - a duty reserved for a senior team member; but will in fact carry the country's flag during a specially organised activity during the ceremony and will also work throughout the championships as a volunteer with other responsibilities.
The youngster, speaking to The Gleaner ahead of her departure, expressed relief that she was able to realise her dream despite the many challenges that she faced to get the required sponsorship necessary to fill a shortfall that was created because of the last-minute nature of her application to volunteer at the meet.
"I feel relieved considering all the challenges that I have experienced over the last month and I am now about to realise a dream," said an exhausted-sounding Coleman.
"It feels good to know that all the hard work is not going to waste, it shows that people care and saw what I did as someone showing initiative and pressing for their dream and I am happy that I managed to get the support necessary to get to this point," she added. "It shows that anything that you work hard enoughfor is achievable, you just have to persevere and believe that it will happen."
Coleman, who developed an interest in Korean culture over a year ago, taught herself the language and eventually applied to volunteer at the World Championships when she found out it was being staged in South Korea earlier this year, long after the deadline for such applications had passed.
The well-spoken Coleman was nonetheless allowed to apply and was subsequently accepted by the organisers in South Korea. She however, had to come up with over $300,000 to offset travelling expenses, which could not be processed and assured by the organisers at that juncture.
Her sponsorship rush and the story of her resourcefulness and enterprise got the attention of The Gleaner, which contributed just under $100,000 towards the realisation of the youngster's ambitions as well as coverage in several South Korean media outlets. Coleman also received support from newly formed local company Farmville Jamaica Live, South Korean philanthropist Kwan Shik Song, as well as her mother Andrea Coleman.
Coleman will get straight to work in Daegu, with rehearsals for the opening ceremony starting a day after her arrival.