Tue | Jul 23, 2024

JOA targeting Winter Olympics in long-term plans

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:10 AMGregory Bryce/Staff Reporter
Christopher Samuda, President, Jamaica Olympic Association.
Christopher Samuda, President, Jamaica Olympic Association.

While the Jamaica Olympic Association’s (JOA) immediate focus is on the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, president Christopher Samuda said the JOA is also focussed on increasing Jamaica’s competitiveness at the Winter Olympic Games, as well.

Jamaica has earned a reputation for excellence at the various Summer Olympic Games, however, Samuda said the JOA is targeting an increased presence for the island in the upcoming Winter Games Olympic cycles.

“We have always had success in the summer Games and we have always have had success in track and field, so now let us look at other sports and let us look at other disciplines to ensure that we can give our young people options, but also strengthen brand Jamaica.”

According to Samuda, one of the first steps towards this goal is ensuring Jamaica is capable of competing at an international standard in winter athletics.

He pointed to the recent success of the Jamaica ice hockey team at the Challenge Series, as well as the Jamaica’s curling team officially becoming a member of the JOA as progress in the nation’s competitive standard.

“We have been going about that strategically,” he said. “Our curling team are now members of the Jamaica Olympic Association and they have been doing well. I’ve always emphasised that one of our primary objectives is to show that we can develop persons who can be competitive at the highest level in winter sports.

“I know that the Jamaica Ice Hockey Association has been on a drive in recruiting talent and of course, in any sport, you have the broaden the pool of talent in order to ensure success. They want to put Jamaica on the map for ice hockey and they are going aggressively about it.”

However, Samuda said while the growth in the various winter disciplines has been an impressive feat for Jamaica, the programmes will require funding if they are to become sustainable.

Here, he explained, is the role that the public and the corporate sector will play.

Samuda believes the support and the capital from the public will be important for the long-term future of Jamaica’s Winter Games aspirations. However, he said for the public to become interested in the winter sports, Jamaica must first show it is worth the investment.

“We have to ensure that we have teams that are very competitive and can do well at the international level so that you can have that resource to go to corporate Jamaica so that we can say ‘Support our teams because they are doing exceptional well’,” he explained. “What we have been doing is saying to the public and corporate Jamaica that you have to put capital behind our sportsmen and sportswomen and to garner public interest, you know success begets success.”