JOA, Mayberry Investments, partner to back Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

There is much hope that the development of Jamaica’s junior gymnastics will spring to another level with the inaugural Mayberry Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series.

More than 100 youngsters, aged five years and older, are participating in the first event in the series, which is scheduled to begin today (Friday, May 14) at 5:00 p.m. and run through to Sunday, May 16, at the National Gymnastics Training Centre, at 1 Slipe Road in Kingston.

The series will take place quarterly for the next four years, courtesy of a joint effort by Mayberry Investments, which have invested one million dollars, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the National Gymnastics Federation of Jamaica.

“This event is the first in a series to aid in the national junior development process and will continuously test the readiness of our athletes, as part of a four-year cycle, for the Olympic programme. In other words, this series is critical to the success and growth of our budding gymnasts,” remarked Gary Peart, CEO, Mayberry Investments.

“Mayberry wants to witness the honing of this sort of talent on the local stage so that we can make a big impact on the world stage. Jamaicans are known for being ‘likkle but tallawah’ and this is just another shining example that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

As the main feature, all participants in the training event will be awarded a medal.

“Mayberry is particularly happy that all the athletes involved will be awarded medals at the end of the testing series, because we believe that all efforts are valid, from the smallest to biggest,” Peart said.

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the JOA, expressed his delight at the partnership that will bring yet another sport to the forefront of Jamaican athletics.

“The JOA is pleased to have brokered this deal under our JOA/Mayberry partnership that was established in 2019. The sport of gymnastics will be one of the sport that will be representing Jamaica at this summer’s Olympics and we are pleased with the trendsetting work done by President Grant-Brown and her team.

“The synergies between Mayberry and the Jamaica Gymnastics Federation was seamless and one built on developing the next generation of athletes. The JOA is extremely proud of one of our key partners, Mayberry, who has truly bought into our vision of building now for the future,” Foster shared. “They have demonstrated that they are good corporate citizens whose philanthropy has no bounds. We will continue to find avenues for our athletes and members to develop."

All told there will be five sessions, which includes the first that ended at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 30-minute awards ceremony. Sessions two, three and four are slated for 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m, 12:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday; while Session five will run from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The final half-hour in each session is reserved for awards presentations. 

Former national hockey president and now President of Gymnastics Nicole Grant-Brown praised the effort of their partners and noted the impact of their support.

“Mayberry Investments is shining a light on us that is certainly helping us to have hope. Jamaica Gymnastics is in its growth stage and like any child, we need help to grow and with a good support system we can grow big and strong,” she said.

“We are happy and elated that the vision of the Jamaica Olympic Association is wide enough to recognize that gymnastics, which is seen in Jamaica as a minor sport, requires partnerships of this nature to make it major and will one day be placed in its rightful position as one of Jamaica’s most consistent Olympic sport and most participated by our youth in this country.

“Already we have made two consecutive Olympic Games, 2016 and 2021, and the sport has not yet reached its maturity stage.”

She also noted the strategies involved in carving out this series, which marks the beginning of Jamaica’s junior Olympic programme.

“The skills and strength testing is two to three times per year, which is the base for their development. This program compares to that of the United States’ USA TOPS program, which they use to draft gymnasts as young as six years old in their National Gymnastics program. If we want to be the best, we have to adopt what works from the best while developing our own strategies based on our unique culture and natural athletics abilities,” she said.

Ten-year-old gymnast, Rihanna Williams, endorsed the series, saying: “We are the future of gymnastics. We train 5-6 hours, five days per week and it’s very hard. We do this because we love gymnastics and at the end of the day, we want to make Jamaica proud.

“We hope you will not leave us but stay with us and help us grow as we will be Olympians in the future. Thank you again Mayberry Investments, we will make you proud to be part of our family.”

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    The latest global sport organization to initiate a partnership with the JOA is the International Jump Rope Union (IJRU) established in 1973 as the sole international governing body for the sport of jump rope and now with a membership of sixty-two countries spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceana.

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    With diversity, inclusion, innovation and excellence as its mantra, the IJRU values are in sync with the JOA which has been broadening its sport agenda in both the summer and winter sports. JOA Secretary General and CEO, Ryan Foster, stated that the "partnership between the Jamaica Olympic Association and the International Jump Rope Union is a testimony that the business of sport has expanded beyond what one considers traditional as the status quo for sport is a thing of the past as the JOA embraces this union which is born in the concept of sport for all."

    IJRU President, Shaun Hamilton, hailed the historic signing and Jamaica's inclusion as "a tremendous moment" and in lauding the JOA said "Jamaica is a very influential space and place and we, the IJRU, are so happy that they will lead the way for other island nations to join us in this amazing community and family."

    The sport of jump rope has seen tremendous growth in the last decade as a competitive and recreational sport among the youth of the global village, an achievement which Samuda acknowledged as giving them "yet another option in a sport that combines, skill, dexterity, flexibility, speed and kinetics with concentration, focus, patience and determination; that marries physical attributes with mental attitudes and aptitudes in such a marvelous way so as to create human symmetry and aesthetics."

    As the JOA continues to fulfill its mission to engrain the values of sport in the Jamaican human landscape, Foster stated that "Sport is a way of life that not only transcends once unbreakable borders but impacts not only lives but livelihoods and the JOA is pleased to be a part of a journey which is rooted in the hallway of legacy creation that will form the basis from which many athletes will benefit for years to come."

    Under the partnership agreement, both sporting bodies will collaborate in developing the sport in Jamaica with IJRU hosting technical webinars and physical workshops for officials, coaches and judges as well as providing sport-related equipment and requisites. Further the parties will co-operate in developing a Caribbean strategy for the sport utilizing Jamaica as a springboard and hub for developmental initiatives in the region.

    "The JOA is determined to transform Jamrock to be a mecca for competition and recreational sport, sport education, sport entertainment and sport tourism," Samuda said.

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    In recent times, the ASAJ had been in desperate need of new lane lines for the national swimming pool at Independence Park Limited, as the ones that were in use had deteriorated so badly over the years, swimmers were at risk of injury whether during practice or competition.

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    “The JOA has been so supportive and serious about developing sports in Jamaica. They have assisted us with the purchase of three air vents for the gymnasium valued over $300,000 and also much-needed landed foam blocks to complete our landing pit to the tune of $1.5m,” said the association’s president Nicole Grant.

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    Grant said the initiative is yet another feather in the cap of the JOA that has been supportive of her fledgling association.

    “We are truly thankful and grateful to the JOA because they have demonstrated time and again that their job is way beyond just sending teams to Games and the Olympics but helping with the development from the grassroots levels and educating our gymnasts and administrators through their various programs and scholarships that we have been on the receiving end of,” Grant said.

    “Through the JOA, Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is currently in Europe pursuing a Masters in Sports Administration and I have recently completed the Diploma in Advance Sports Management conducted by the JOA. It’s definitely a blessing to be affiliated to such an institution that demonstrates time and again that assisting with the holistic development of a sport is necessary to achieve its ultimate goals.”

     

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