Our Voices

Raising our voice to the ominous voice of COVID – 19

“Expect the unexpected” could never have been expected in our modern imagination where medical sciences seem to offer a panacea or a reprieve for all possible illnesses which afflict mankind.

But then the Coronavirus arrived and on its journey it is leaving a trail of death and human suffering.

The Paralympic movement like all over sport stakeholders is hearing its ominous voice and has had to heed it in the postponement and cancellation of events, adherence to social and health protocols and government regulations and acceding to imposed “house arrests” and “lockdowns”

But the voice of Covid- 19  has given us an opportunity to raise our voices over it in negating its effects on humanity. it also gives us an opportunity to reassess and re-cast training and technical programmes; realise the importance of sport psychology; measure human resilience and plot metrics for not only survival but triumph; re-fashion business models in minimising risks in the wake of pandemics;  examine corporate frameworks to ensure a flexible and viable response to crises, and blueprint social cohesion against a common enemy which has forced us to maintain social distance.

In times of crises, the Jamaica Paralympic Association and our athletes rely on the values and principles of Paralympism which teach us to embolden the human spirit and deepen our resolve to overcome any disability, physical or otherwise. Our voices must be heard.

Our athletes continue to pursue training programmes in maintaining fitness levels and discipline under the directives of committed coaches.

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Ahoy, Games Galore!

2019 can easily be described as a year of “games galore” for major international events in the local Paralympic calendar.

It starts with the World Para Athletics Junior Championships (July 26 to August 5) in Nottwil, Switzerland,thenontothePara Pan American Games (August 23 to September 1) in Lima, Peru, then finally the “biggy” the World Para Athletics Championships (November 7 to 15)  in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

It may be a coach’s’ nightmare as athletes will have to peak at least twice and the local qualification meets in April has not even been factored in. But the coaches have gone there and done it and their charges know that and are confident that the job will be done.

“It’s a part of the territory” said Christopher Samuda, JPA’s President, who further stated; “An athlete must understand that in a given year he or she will be called upon to give an account more than once and must rise to the occasion”

Well, the year is still young but as it matures so too must athletes and coaches mature into competitions. Injuries apart, there should not be any excuses when the national colours are donned on any stage whether locally or internationally.

Best of luck to Team Paralympic Jamaica. I believe that this year will see the emergence of new talent that will inspire others to reach for the horizon.

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London’s Voice  Welcomes Jamaica’s Para Athletes 2017 World Para Athletics Championships

 Team Jamaica has settled in comfortably to a warm welcome at the Premier Inn, London, Stratford just a stone’s throw from the historic Queen Elizabeth Park Stadium where Jamaica has made its mark and established world milestones in track and field both in the Paralympic and Olympic Games.

Newcomer, Chadwick Campbell, faced the starter this morning in the male T13 100m preliminaries and placed sixth in 11.49 and did not progress as the heat was won by the Irish athlete Jason Smyth in 10.73 who advanced to the finals with the fastest time. Campbell was disappointed as he was looking to better his personal record of 11.34 which would have given him a berth in the finals. “I am somewhat dejected although this is my first outing on the international stage as I was hoping to be in the final”.

Campbell’s teammate, and also a rookie, Santana Campbell, bettered her expectation in her weaker event, the female F55 shot putt, placing sixth (5.99m) in the world final which was won by Latvia’s Diana Dadzite with a throw of 8.01m.

The campaign of para-athlete, Dana Gaye-Weller, ended disappointingly in an eighth-place finishing in the female F 51 club throw which again puts in the spotlight the issue of classification as weaker athletes are competing with obviously stronger athletes. The event was won by Zoia Ovsll in a championship record throw.

Jamaica’s journey continues tomorrow with Chadwick Campbell in the male T13 200m and Santana Campbell in the female F 55 javelin. In these events, the country is expected to secure medals in the Championship now underway in the gateway metropolitan city of London.

Chef de Mission, Jacqueline Cowan, is marshaling Jamaica’s team: “The team is a mixture of committed experienced athletes and newcomers who are eager to affirm or make their mark on the global stage”.

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Rio Awakes to the Voice of the Paralympic Games(2016)

When the 2016 Paralympic Games‎is officially declared open on September 7,  Jamaica will be part of a global citizenry hoping that all will go well despite the tremendous challenges which now face the event. From budget cuts to poor ticket sales, officials of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) must be concerned but are trusting that the spirit of  Paralympism will oxygenate the life of the Games. But more critical is the future viability of the Games given the reality of its comparative lack of popularity with its sibling, the  Olympic Games,  ‎(which has been given a Bolt-like fillip) and the disproportionate corporate spend. London gave the Paralympic movement a bump but its legacy cannot provide succour for future Games. The Movement will have to re-tool‎ going forward to Tokyo which is transmitting confidence as that metropolitan relies on its known organizational efficiencies, hi-tech culture, and stable economy in delivering successfully international events. Location, public support, the weal of the Government’s purse,  corporate sponsorship, and arguably a proven history of doing it right are some of the critical indices that will determine the success or failure of any  Games. In this regard, some argue that the economic fettle of the Brazilian Government and the country’s general economic malaise has not given hope. Nonetheless, sport and the friendship and inspiration which characterise its DNA ‎will perhaps defy the odds and make the Games memorable given the immeasurable value it still has in the lives of the athletes, for whom it really exists, and sports connoisseurs. Rio will indeed awake to the Games with an optimism that its samba beat will make it unique and unforgettable.

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Jamaica Awakes to the  Taste of Brazil(2016)

Competition behind with all its anxiety and training regime rigour, it was time to get out of the athlete’s village and explore the charm of Brazil. Jamaica stamped its brandonRio deJaneiro which was eager to experience Jamrock with its mystical patois, reggae roots and yard style camaraderie. As the para Jamaican delegation went around the city in the black, green and gold colour requested photographs taken with natives and foreigners became the norm and from brief exchanges, with diverse people, it was clear that Jamaica “sell-off”.

Though mobbed by eager admirers, the delegation still spent quality time sampling Rio and some even went inadvertently off the beaten track into afavela but, upon raising their indiscretion, quickly got back online. I suspect that being Jamaican helped in securing free and ‘honoured’ passage.

The Spanish influenced historic architecture, the imposing hills, the quaint Portuguese language punctuated with animated gestures, the football fever that infected communities to play in unity and brotherhood, rustic art of commercial appeal yet of cultural integrity, samba rhythms and the larger than life Christ the Redeemer that seemingly guarded the hopes and aspirations of a people, gave Jamaica a fine taste of Brazil that edified the palate and left sweet and lingering memories.

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JPA Eduposia- The Voice of Education

The Jamaica Paralympic Association continued its public education campaign in sport with the successful hosting of seminars and worships styled “Eduposia”  – education in symposiums. An Agitos sponsored programme, the JPA presented a curriculum chuck full of information from sport governance to sports financing, sports asset acquisition to sports monetization of assets, from athlete long term development to athlete career building and from sport psychology to athletic performance.

The attendees were from a wide cross-section of sports practitioners and the sessions were very conversational and interactive. The objectives were met and some Directors in making presentations brought textbook theory into the reality of sport with practical application. If there were some critical takeaways from the Eduposia, in my view these are they:

  • sports governance is a value-based culture and a policy and management science;
  • the active  engagement and loyalty of the fans is important to the viability and sustainability of a sport;
  • sports associations and federations must create assets and goodwill and seek ways to monetize them; and
  • sports psychology is not just for the athlete but also for the administrator, coach, manager, doctor, physiotherapists, massage therapist, etc.

It was a cuisine of important information that the JPA served which I hope will provide a menu for success for sport generally.

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Toronto Awakes to the Voice of the  Para Pan-American Games(2014)

A bustling metropolitan sleeps in stripling repose but only for a while for in a few hours it will arise with gusto to meet the expectations of millions of residents and ‎thousands of foreigners in staging what Canadians will wish to be ‘one of the greatest shows on earth’.

Toronto is accustomed to the razzmatazz ‎of international events and therefore the Para Pan American Games will hardly be novel and for a people who revel in sport. Moreover, it is a city that is sensitive to the social advocacy and ideals of the disabled community and so these games will no doubt be seen and treated as an outgrowth of metropolitan humanity.

The Games has an admirable history and will continue to create legacies that will inspire current and future athletes to become not only athletic champions but, by dint of their performances, fine exemplars of courage and self-mastery.

Toronto has the responsibility of staging successful games and this is understood well by the governed and the governors. But beyond this understanding is the challenge to ensure that the Games, after it closes, remains relevant as an experience and a lesson that sport unites and engenders goodwill and brotherhood.

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The Jamaica Paralympic Brand’s Voice in Toronto(2014)

President Samuda introduces Team Jamaica to Consul General, Lloyd Wilks, during the courtesy call.

Sport has become big business and athletes and associations are quickly realizing that personalities and profiles must graduate to becoming brands in a fiercely competitive environment and with an increasingly less loyal consumer if only for the reason that there are more choices and options.

The Paralympic Brand is now taking shape and distinctly transmitting meaning and value which is essential if the umbrella association, the JPA, is to remain viable and be uniquely influential in the development of sport and in transforming the societal views of and approach to the disabled..

The recently formed Jamaica Para Toronto Federation is a welcomed move and a move in the right direction as it will help broaden and deepen “vision and mission Paralympic” while helping to mold and build a customized local Paralympic Brand.

Athletic successes are personal and an individual or team feat but they are equally corporate and national in nature. In this regard, there has emerged over the last two or so years a symbiotic relationship between the JPA and its athletes which define success not only as individualistic but, perhaps more importantly, as a corporate expression and gain. This will build the Paralympic Brand in a way that will allow it to command wider and greater support and make it ultimately sustainable.

If the plan to form more satellite federations in cities of the Diaspora is executed and those entities carry out their mandates effectively, then this will be a revolution not only in sports administration but also branding.

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The Voice of Lyon Awakes, 2013 IPC World Athletics Championships

Jamaica’s Paralympic team to the IPC’s Athletics World Championships is in the final stages of preparation for what is expected to be a successful campaign in Lyon, France, later this month.

Alphanso “The Ambassador” Cunningham, Jamaica’s celebrated Paralympian, will lead the medal hunt and is expected to mine gold in both the F53/53 Javelin and Discus. “He’s in a world record-breaking mode for the Javelin” stated Coach Neville Sinclair with quiet confidence and national pride

Medal performances should come from the well decorated and powerful Beijing bronze medalist Tanto Campbell in the F54-56 Discus and Sylvia Grant in the F57/58 Javelin who will also challenge for a medal in the Discus.

Shane Hudson, the experienced quarter-miler, will brave the American and European charge in the T46 400m and is expected to tame the competition as the gold is within his grasp. He will also line up for the 200m.

If Javon Campbell, who was not classified last year in T46, gets the green light in the new T47 class, his runs in the 100m and 200m should add to the array of medals in the cabinet.

David Bascoe, who represented Jamaica at the Guadalajara Para Pan American Games in Mexico in 2011 but who thereat suffered an injury, is back and will re-new his campaign in the T46 200m and 400m. Newcomer Isaiah Simms will be tested in the T13 100m and 200m while his teammate and also newcomer, Romadeo Williams from the revered Glenmuir High School, will do battle in the T46 100m and 200m.

President of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, Christopher Samuda, in looking ahead commented; “We faced several challenges in preparing for these Championships but our athletes, like proficient soldiers, are ready for combat and victory”

President Samuda and Secretary-General Suzanne Harris-Henry, who is the Chef de Mission, are looking forward to a Jamaican fete in France along with Coach Neville Sinclair, Massage Therapist Ricardo. Bailey and Athlete Laison Officer Mark Barton.

The team leaves the island on Monday July 15. The Opening Ceremony will be on July 19 and team Jamaica will be sporting French berets in national colours which should take Lyon by storm. The Closing Ceremony is scheduled for July 28 and the team returns on July 29.

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Jamaica prepares to ‘Shout” in London (2012 Paralympic Games)

Boosted by the trio of medals won by Jamaicans in the Men’s 200m at the Olympics, the national team yesterday departed for the Paralympic Games in London from August 29 to September 12.

“I’m going there to see if I can get the gold. I know the class is going to be hard but it doesn’t matter, I’m going there to do my best and make my country proud of me,” discus and javelin competitor Sylvia Grant told the Jamaica Observer.

Grant, who competes in the F57 class is the most experienced member of the six-member squad having competed at six previous Paralympic Games.

“I love what is going on. Bolt is one of my friends so Bolt always,” Grant said as she talked about the world record holder’s double gold medals in the 100m and 200m at the Olympic Games currently on in London.

The other team members include Tanto Campbell, who won a bronze medal in the discus in Beijing four years ago, and Alphonso Cunningham, who will compete in the discus and javelin.

Three other debutantes make up the squad — Shane Hudson, Toni Greaves, and Javon Campbell — but head coach Neville Sinclair told the Observer they will not compete but will, however, participate in a training camp which will be held in Bedfordshire in England prior to the Games.

He was confident that the team would return with more than the one medal won the last time around and that Campbell would be aiming for a world record in his pet event.

“We have a rounded team. The team is focussed and we should be doing pretty well. What I can safely say is that last Olympics we got one bronze. This Olympics we’ll be bettering that. I can assure you that,” Sinclair said.

Technical leader Ann Marie Smith and team doctor Rory Dixon left yesterday, while Chef de Mission Suzanne Harris-Henry will depart at a later date.

“They’re raring to go. I’m happy that for the first time we’re able to send them to a pre-Games training camp. That’s a good opportunity for them to acclimatise because I hear the weather in London is not very nice,” Harris- Henry said.

“They’re all aware that their classes are merged and when you have a merging of classes medals are not necessarily guaranteed but certainly I know they’re going to work really, really hard towards medals.”

The squad was aided by a $2-million injection of cash from team sponsors Digicel to go towards per diem expenses for the contingent.

“We’ve made this donation for the Paralympics to continue riding on the energy of what is going on in London. We’re very proud of the entire Jamaica Olympics team. We’re sure it’s going to be great,” Jacqueline Burrell, the company’s public relations manager, said.

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The Voice of Guadalajara, 2011 Para PanAmerican Games

The majestic sound of the National Anthem reverberated in the International Zone of the Paralympic Village in Guadalajara at approximately 16:55 p.m. Mexico’s time as the national flag was hoisted signaling the official endorsement of Jamaica’s participation in the 2011 Parapan American Games.

The Flag Raising Ceremony was hosted on Thursday by the National Paralympic Committee of Mexico and was not without pageantry and a cultural expose by the host country in dance.

Mayor of the Paralympic Village, Willem Nicolaas Van der Kaaij, delivered the welcome address in which he expressed a commitment to a successful staging of the games and best wishes to Jamaica and the Republic of Suriname whose national flag was also elevated in the ceremony.

Jamaica’s Chef de Mission, Christopher Samuda, in his address stated that “Jamaica is so proud yet humbled to be an integral part of the humanity of the paralympic movement and is committed to advancing the cause, challenging successfully prejudices and creating a new vision of equity in Paralympic pursuits and other endeavors.”

In recognition and appreciation of the hospitality of the hosts, the Mayor was presented with satchels of the revered Blue Mountain Coffee by the Chef de Mission.

But it was a navy blue and gold-clad quartet of Mexico’s National Cadet, with Jaxon type headgears and plumes, which marched in unison (with the black, green and gold folded in white-gloved hands) to the platform, unfolded the flag while simultaneously poling it and then gave a salute as it was raised to the sound of the anthem.

The national flag now flies in the village where over three thousand athletes spanning the Americas will seek in the coming week personal honour and glory for their country.

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Our Paralympic Team Settles In Guadalajara 2011 Para PanAmerican Games

The Jamaican team to the 2011 Parapan American Games landed at approximately 8:08 p.m. Monday night at the Guadalajara International Airport, Mexico, full of confidence and ready to continue the glorious tradition of Jamaica in paralympic international competitions.

The weather was cold but that did not deter the warm handshakes that were exchanged with the Chef de Mission, Christopher Samuda, who was on spot to greet the traveling team of athletes and officials headed by Ajay Kapu, Physiotherapist.

After photo opportunities with some members of the arriving Brazilian and Cuban delegations, the team was whisked in an official bus to the village where members seamlessly concluded the accreditation process and thereafter retired for a good night’s rest.

Jamaica is being represented by six athletes: Tanto Campbell in the men’s discus F54-56; Alphanso Cunningham in the men’s discus F51-53 and javelin F52-53; Sylvia Grant in the women’s discus and javelin F57-58; Kevon Reid in the men’s shot put F54-56; Shane Hudson in the men’s 200m and 400m T46; and David Bascoe in the men’s 400m and 800m T46.

The coaches, Neville Sinclair and Jefferson Davis, who have the enviable distinction of being gold medalists and record holders in field events while representing Jamaica in paralympic competitions, are satisfied with the progress of their charges who they have monitored closely in several rigorous training sessions leading up to the Games.

Guadalajara is the capital of the State of Jalisco and is revered as the birthplace of the most celebrated icons of Mexican identity: charreria, mariachi, and tequila. Its architectural beauty is renowned and today it is much more than a cradle of culture as it is a recognised venue for sport in the American Continent.

The Jamaicans will now seek, amidst the pristine beauty of Guadalajara, to write their names in the history book of the Parapan American Games, and from all indications the script has already been written.

The words of Chef de Mission Christopher Samuda sums it all up.

“We have toiled against many challenges but thank God He has placed us here in this moment of time and the importance has not escaped our athletes who have made personal sacrifices to bring glory to their country proud”.

The Games open on November 12 at the Telmex Athletics Stadium and will have its closing ceremony there on November 22.

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