Jamaica will be represented in several sports at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games which is scheduled to take place in the city of Cali in Colombia between November 25 and December 5, 2021.

Responding to the call made by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) earlier this year, several juniors from the so-called "smaller sports" dedicated their efforts in qualifying and have now earned a coveted place at the historic games.

Among those sports, whose athletes will don the black green and gold national colours in Cali, are Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Artistic Gymnastics, Fencing, Badminton Triathlon, Tennis, Cycling (Track), Skateboarding and Squash.

In commending the commitment of member associations and the nation's juniors, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, said: "Our associations and federations and their juniors have responded positively and with national pride to the JOA's Cali call to action for it will be for us, 'business unusual' in Cali and for them, it will be 'signed, sealed and delivered."

The JOA boss, in expressing a well-known policy of the national governing body, further stated "the JOA is giving our young sportsmen and women every opportunity to transition and be more than gold medalists - to be standard-bearers. The JOA subscribes to this ideal and Cali is certainly embracing it."

The number of local sports that will feature at the multi-sport junior games is indeed a record for the JOA and is being interpreted by its Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, as "a clear signal that the JOA's strategy of diversification is working well and that our members are inspiring their junior athletes to be history-makers and to strive for excellence."

With the Santiago 2023 Senior Pan-American Games and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games only two and three years away respectively, the JOA views the Cali games as a critical milestone. Secretary-General Foster, in giving the context, was unequivocal. "Cali is a dress rehearsal for our juniors. If you want to be at the senior shows, you have to, from now, dress for the shows, study the scripts and be able to deliver yourself on the big stages."

The stage lights in Cali will soon be turned on to spotlight over 3,800 athletes from the Caribbean and Americas - north, central and south -who will compete across 315 events in 28 sports and "Jamaica will be their centre stage and the objective is to have a leading role in this historic event," President Samuda said.

Jamaica gymnast Danusia Francis is unsure of when she sustained a competition-ending knee injury, and will only be able to symbolically compete in Saturday’s competition, but insists she remains proud to represent the country regardless.

The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a torn ACL on Friday and will now only take part in the Athletics Gymnastics Uneven Bars event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  Even so, the gymnast will not be able to fully compete as she will be unable to do a dismount routine.

 “I hope to do some sort of bar routine just to get a score on the board but without a dismount, it won’t be a competitive score, but I’ll be happy to see Jamaica represented at the Olympic Games and I still feel very proud to be wearing the Jamaican flag,” Francis told the press.

“The knee, I think, is getting worse and worse, so I can’t really tell you the exact time when the ligament damage occurred, but I found out today what it actually was and it will drastically affect my competition, unfortunately.”

  The Artistic Gymnastics competition is set to start tomorrow with the Uneven Bars finals for women taking place on Sunday.  The athlete will miss out on competing on the Balance Beam, Floor Exercise, and Vault.

 The gymnast admits the injury had come as a huge blow.

“I’m really upset to have hurt myself. I have been so prepared for this competition mentally and physically up to this point so to, at the last hurdle, be injured is disappointing. Luckily, the medics have taken really good care of me and I’m sure they will continue to do so.”

 

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