BUOYED BY the historic sporting representation in Birmingham, England, Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president, Christopher Samuda, is promising a blast from the nation’s competitors at the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games.
“You’re part of history because in Birmingham the Jamaica Olympic Association will create history, 17 sports will be participating,” Samuda noted at the JOA’s press launch for the event, which took place at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on Thursday night.
Previously, Jamaica’s highest representation in sporting disciplines came at the 2018 edition at the Gold Coast in Australia, where Jamaica also created history, by winning the most medals at the event, 27.
Since taking office in 2017, the Samuda-led apex sporting body had listed among its prime targets greater representation of the nation’s sporting athletes and talent in global competition.
With the qualification of additional disciplines, Samuda said it proved their efforts were reaping fruit and expressed gratitude to key players in the sporting arena.
He said: “Thanks to our presidents, secretary general and sporting administrators, coaches and athletes for buying into the JOA’s vision … and living the mission with us. Welcome to history, welcome to history.”
He added: “It will be a Commonwealth blast in Birmingham where we will celebrate with a diaspora that is waiting patiently but with a sense of enthusiasm and conviction for our arrival, and we shall arrive.”
Over the years, Jamaica has reaped a fair amount of success at the Games and this, Samuda insinuated, has inspired the Jamaican theme for this summer’s event, ‘Our Wealth in the Commonwealth’, which has greater connotation given the huge Jamaican prominence in that English city.
“Our theme this year is ‘Our Wealth in the Commonwealth’ … Donald Quarrie exemplifies that theme, Merlene Ottey exemplifies that theme, and those who were before, and those who came after epitomise that theme. And therefore my family of the Commonwealth, in Birmingham the Jamaica Olympic Association will create a blast, a blast that will signal to the world that we’re now totally of age, not only in track and field but in other sports. And that is the promise that the Jamaica Olympic Association made when we came into office in 2017 and transitioned into 2021,” said Samuda.
“That is the mission that we’ve pursued and that is the mission that is clear to us, must be the lot of Jamaica for the future,” he noted. “Our commitment is to make Jamaica a signal sport powerhouse – 17 sports and for the next edition I promise no less than 25.”
Over 5,054 athletes from 72 nations are set to compete at the Games, which will run from Thursday, July 28 to Monday August 8, a period which coincides with the celebration of Jamaica’s 60th Independence anniversary celebrations.
The occasion was not lost on Dame Louise Martin, Commonwealth Sports Federation president, who delivered remarks in a live stream.
She said: “For Jamaica, as you celebrate your 60th anniversary of your Independence, Birmingham 2022 is particularly special to you and for us.
“For Jamaica, on your special anniversary, Birmingham 2022 will feel like a home Games with around 70,000 Jamaicans living in the city and we look forward to celebrating with you.”
Continuing, Martin shared that with over 4,500 athletes it will represent the largest event ever to be staged in the Western world, also highlighting another first, which will see more women collecting medals that men at the athletic event.
She noted Jamaica’s contribution, which has made them special among its list of competing countries.
“Jamaica has made a sterling contribution to the Commonwealth Games, providing some of the most recognisable stars in the history of this event. You are synonymous for your track and field success, and the Games has featured some of Jamaica’s outstanding talent, including Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Elaine Thompson Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and, of course, the great Usain Bolt,” Martin said.