Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) president Christopher Samuda is hoping that certified classifiers from the region will be the first step into widening the pool of para-athletes for future major global games.
Samuda was speaking at yesterday’s opening day of the Caribbean Para Athletics Classifiers Seminar. The seminar, which is the first time that Jamaica is hosting the workshop, seeks to increase the competencies of classifiers for Para Athletics for major games. The three-day workshop concludes tomorrow.
Citing a deficit of certified classifiers in the region which determine the appropriate classes for para-athletes based on their disability, Samuda said that the workshops will help to fill the void now being experienced.
“We have a mandate at the JPA on building capacity and institutional strength. So this seminar is in fact an outgrowth of that policy that we have always articulated. It’s important because we have to demonstrate leadership in the Caribbean. It’s important for us because we want to build a bank of expertise and competencies. The more classifiers we have, then the more opportunities our para-athletes have at regional and international tournaments,” Samuda said.
Noting that Jamaica is playing a key role in the Para-Olympic movement in the region, Americas Paralympic Committee Executive Director Michele Formonte said that it was important for the workshop to be held on the island, which she hopes will prevent the need to bring in classifiers from other regions to manage major events.
“What we are doing is making sure that we have national and international classifiers in our region. So when we go to major games or championships, we don’t have to bring people from Europe, from Oceania and from Asia as we have people here. This is a pilot workshop but the idea is to keep on growing and bring other sports,” Formonte said.
Samuda is targeting three certified classifiers for major events by next summer’s Paris games and to increase that number further for 2028 when the Paralympics is hosted in Los Angeles.
“We have a Paralympic objective that we want two or three classifiers in relation to critical disciplines. Our target is by 2024 Paris that we will have at least four or five disciplines, two or three certified classifiers will be able to ply their trade on the regional and international scene,” Samuda said. “We are hoping beyond Paris we will build a cadre of professionals so that when Los Angeles comes around we have options, we have choices.”
Formonte said that there are plans for Jamaica to be the hub for similar workshops to take place with the plan for the International Paralympic Committee to visit as well with the view to expand to other Para-sports.
“Jamaica is one of the biggest countries in the region and also has the biggest development of para-athletes in the region so that’s why geographically (it made sense to come here),” Formonte said. “Next year we are going to invite the International Paralympic Committee to come here as well and continue with the process.”