Jamaica's sports minister greets country's returning Olympians with promise of greater assistance

By Sports Desk August 11, 2021

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange has said that every arriving athlete from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be greeted by her on arrival.

“They will all get the same treatment, not just the medalists,” Minister Grange said as she welcomed home Candice McLeod, Demish Gaye, Sean Bailey and Tovea Jenkins earlier this week. She also welcomed back President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda, Head Coach Maurice Wilson and several other coaches and team manager Ludlow Watts.

In welcoming home the contingent, the Minister promised that greater assistance for the country’s athletes was in the pipeline.

“The Government realizes that it is not easy for all the athletes. Some of them come from really humble backgrounds and challenging situations,” she said of the team that won nine medals at the Tokyo 2020 Games, including four gold medals, one silver and four bronze medals.

“I am repeating this, do not to hesitate in letting me know what help you need. I may not be able to do all but I will certainly help as much as I can. I am here for you, whatever the ups and downs, we will face them together going forward. I am saying to the JOA here today that we must work together as a family.”

Minister Grange emphasized that whatever the differences that exist among organizations in the sector, “It is important that we come together from now because over the next three years we will be faced with major international meets, the World Games in Eugene, Oregon in the United States in 2022, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, also in 2022, culminating with the Paris Olympics in 2024. Around the corner is the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya from August 17 to 21.”

The sports minister said she was impressed by the youthfulness, manners and humility that characterized the delegation that went to the Tokyo Olympics. “I got a response in return for every message that I Whatsapped to every one of them who I reached out to,” she said.

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    Aleia Hobbs of the United States equalled her season-best 10.81 for fourth.

    This was the record-extending sixth consecutive final in which the diminutive Jamaican has run faster than 10.70 seconds and the two-time Olympic champion was quite pleased with the performance but hinted that she is planning to take a break after what has been an intense schedule.

    “I had now three back-to-back races so I will take some time for recovery and see what I´m able to do with some rest before I come back,” she said.

    “I did what I needed to do and we had fun and let the clock do the talking. I cannot be disappointed with the season. To be able to run 10.6 consistently means a lot to me. It is remarkable. It is very hard to keep the speed at this high level.

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    The Jamaican speed-queen was not the only Caribbean winner at the meet on the night as Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas raced to a fast 49.28 to win the 400m in commanding fashion over Candice McLeod who ran a season-best 49.89, her first time under 50 seconds for the season. Finishing third was Commonwealth Games champion Sada Williams, who ran 51.10.

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    Panama’s Gianna Woodruff was third in 54.13.

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    The Commonwealth Manor in Birmingham is the second edition of the current administration of the JOA, the first having been held at the snazzy and popular Helm Bar in the Gold Coast, Australia, where the 2018 Games took place. 

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