The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay arrived in Jamaica on Friday, April 15, reaching the 51st destination out of the 72 Commonwealth nations and territories it will be visiting.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across the Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.

Birmingham 2022 is staging the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – an epic journey across the Commonwealth, with The Queen’s Baton visiting all 72 nations and territories, reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Arriving from Caymans Islands, the Baton has officially touched down at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

The Queen’s Baton, which carries a message from Her Majesty the Queen, arrived in Jamaica as part of its journey to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held in England from July 28 until 8 August 2022.

It will be in Jamaica for three days and during it’s time here, it will be carried by baton bearers, including current and legacy athletes, and will visit landmarks such as the Usain Bolt Track, Emancipation Park and the Donald Quarrie High School.

"Jamaica welcomes the Queen's Baton which symbolizes the spirit of goodwill and brotherhood among Commonwealth nations and as we look towards Birmingham our people will embrace the rich experience of being a part of the Queen's Baton Relay," said the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Christopher Samuda.

The Queen’s Baton will be carried by various sporting federations such as Track and Field, Cycling, Para-taekwondo and the legend Mr Donald Quarrie, CD, who is a Jamaican former track and field athlete, one of the world's top sprinters during the 1970s.

Below is the schedule for the Queen's Baton:

The Queen’s Baton Relay activities in Jamaica include:
● Baton Receival Ceremony at the Norman Manley International Airport on Friday,
April 15, 2022 @ 7:00P.M.
● Baton Presentation Ceremony at the UWI Regional Headquarters on Saturday,
April 16, 2022 @ 8:30 am
● A mock relay at the Usain Bolt Track on Saturday, April 16, 2022, 10:30 am
● University of Technology to mark the partnership between the UTECH and the
The University of Birmingham on Saturday, April 17, 2022, @ 12:00 p.m.
● The Emancipation Park on Saturday, April 16, 2022 @ 1:00 p.m.
● Netball House Ceremony on Saturday, April 16, 2022, @ 2:00 p.m.
● Spanish Town Cathedral Church Service on Sunday, April 17, 2022, @ 8:30 a.m.
● Donald Quarrie High School on Sunday, April 17, 2022, @ 11:00 am.
● Ceremony with the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard in Port Royal on Sunday,
April 17, 2022 @ 12:30 p.m.
Since its inaugural appearance at the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s
Baton Relay has been a tradition for the Commonwealth Games.
The Relay started at Buckingham Palace on 7 October 2021, when Her Majesty The Queen
placed her Message to the Commonwealth into the Baton and passed it to four-time
Paralympic gold medallist and Team England athlete Kadeena Cox, who had the honour of
being the first of thousands of Baton bearers to carry the Baton through the Commonwealth.
The 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay is an epic journey covering the entirety of the
Commonwealth as it will travel to all 72 nations and territories, covering a distance of 140,000
kilometres. For 269 days, the Baton will travel to Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean
and the Americas, before it embarks on the final stretch of its journey across England for 25
days.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will complete its journey at the Opening Ceremony of the
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on 28 July 2022. This is a traditional and
fundamental part of the Games and the Opening Ceremony, as the final Baton bearer will
pass the Baton back to The Queen. The Queen’s message to the Commonwealth will then be
removed from the Baton and read aloud, marking the official start of the Birmingham 2022
Commonwealth Games.

Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda hopes Jamaica can compete in football at the Olympics one day.

“The Olympic Association understands that our role in sport is not only to change the game which we’re already in, but to transform it and to have, in certain respects, a renaissance so that generations can experience what ought to be the sport,” Samuda said while speaking at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Awards and Presentation ceremony at the JFF headquarters on Tuesday.

“We look forward to, as we have discussed continuously, the birth of football on the Olympic stage. It can be done. It will be done and we have every conviction at the JOA that the day will come. Footballers and coaches, you have a responsibility to ensure that it happens,” he added.

Despite Jamaica’s rich history in the Olympics, mainly in Track and Field, the country has never competed in football at the event.

Mexico has historically been the most successful CONCACAF nation in Olympic football winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Jamaica’s chance to qualify for football at the 2024 Paris Olympics will come in June this year when they take part in the 2022 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Honduras.

 

It is an open secret that the present administration of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) is creating "heat waves" in winter sports as it fulfils one of its mandates of growing and strengthening Jamaica's representation in the Winter Olympic Games with a competitive edge.

Although without a medal for the last eight winter games, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, is still confident that "with the robust development programme on which the JOA has embarked with a view to broadening the menu of sports and deepening representation particularly among the next generation of youth, podium success is in the foreseeable future."

The expansive initiatives of the local governing body for winter sports demonstrate a commitment that has been ongoing. Since 2018, guided by its mantra "Sport for All, and All for Sport" which is also its rallying cry for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games, the JOA has invested significantly in the sport of bobsled in motivating the dreams and aspirations of Jamaica's athletes in achieving a historic top of the podium finishing.

An elated JOA Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, stated that "the JOA is extremely pleased with the results having invested over $12,000,000.00 since 2018 in our bobsled athletes in assisting them in their travel, training camps and accommodation and in facilitating their qualification.

Three athletes were selected by the JOA who benefited from Olympic Solidarity scholarships amounting to over $10,000,000.00 the funds of which were used to help the athletes in their day-to-day preparation to include nutritional support. Without the scholarship programme, many athletes would not be able to afford the expenses of their daily preparation for the games."

Sports require investment in human capital and JOA's policy has been unqualified. "Investment in winter is an investment for all seasons of sport as the JOA's philosophy and culture in so far as the development of sport and inspiring our youth are concerned, whether in competitive and recreational endeavours, is timeless, non-discriminatory and with the conviction that performances will become legendary," Samuda stated.

The qualification of teams in this year's winter Games – the men's four and two-way teams and in the women's monobob - and Benjamin Alexander in alpine skiing has earned congratulations from the ruling body.

In a recognition of the accomplishments, Foster stated "the JOA pays tribute and wishes all our athletes tremendous success in the upcoming games. Our gratitude to the management team led by Fitzgerald Mitchell, Chef de Mission, and Dr Wayne Palmer, sports leader and well-known and respected orthopaedic surgeon and the delegation's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Covid Liaison Officer (CLO), who no doubt will successfully navigate the landscape in China."

Meanwhile, Samuda in endorsing those sentiments remarked: "The accomplishment of our athletes is testament to the inspiration and commitment that has and continues to drive aspirations and dreams for themselves and their country on the ice and we are hopeful that a medal will be on the Beijing menu."

Italy will be the next destination for the winter games and already the JOA is visioning history in the making as it embarks upon a programme it has described as "The Italian Ice-Breaker” and awaits destiny.

History will be made at 2023 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games scheduled to take place in San Salvador where the sport of netball will be contested for the very first time, thanks to the advocacy of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

"Netball got, deservedly, our approval to take a seat at the regional table and with this accomplishment, the journey now begins to globalize the sport and the JOA stands ready to again play a signal role," said JOA President Christopher Samuda.

Samuda is a member of the Executive Board of Centro Caribe Sports which owns the games.

An established sport in English-speaking regional territories and now a staple on the sporting agenda of several Spanish-speaking countries, Secretary-General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Ryan Foster, was never in doubt that the sport would transition.

 "I have the privilege of sitting on the Technical Commission of Centro Caribe Sports and from the get-go, I inked my finger and campaigned for netball for I was confident that the sport's credentials would result in a landslide victory," he said.

As the number of Olympic sports on the agenda for multi-sport games increases, the need for a non-Olympic sport to ensure that it is "first to market" becomes increasingly critical for entry to such events as the CAC Games.

 "Insofar as netball is concerned, we at the JOA understood that in order to become a resident of the household of multi-sport games of the Olympic movement, the sport had to muscle its way to first in the line and present, persuasively, credentials for occupancy,” Samuda explained.

Jamaica’s netball pedigree is well known and in the run-up to the 2023 San Salvador CAC Games, the JOA and Netball Jamaica in partnership with Centro Caribe Sports, will be hosting educational workshops and training sessions for teams from Spanish-speaking countries with a view to enhancing their skill sets and technical competencies in the sport.

"What is the value of knowledge and expertise if they're not shared in creating greater capital and opportunities for others in the sporting fraternity?" JOA Secretary-General and CEO Foster queried.

With the withdrawal of Panama City as host of the games, the Executive Board of Centro Caribe Sports moved quickly to re-start the bidding process to secure an alternative host and recently formalized the contract with the Government of the Republic of El Salvador, the municipality of San Salvador and the Local Organizing Committee.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Guatemalan Olympic Committee (GOC) recently signed a historic Sports Co-operation Agreement that will see both bodies cooperating in the areas of applied sport sciences, sports medicine, technology, Olympic values, anti-doping, community and recreational sport, as well as sports administration.

The agreement will also facilitate the exchange of athletes and coaches who will benefit from educational and technical programmes.

The agreement was signed during the XXV General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committee (ANOC) in Greece.

JOA President Christopher Samuda declared that the signing of the agreement signifies an abiding commitment from the JOA and GOC to deepen their already strong bi-lateral relationship under which athletes, coaches, administrators and member federations will benefit from initiatives of capacity building and institutional strengthening, in research, training and education, sports-specific skills and the sciences and technology of sport.

President of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, Gerardo Aguirre, also endorsed the historic partnership in regional sporting history.

"For us, Guatemala's NOC, we identified this as an opportunity to generate a connection with sport and athletes between Jamaica and Guatemala,” he said.

“Jamaica has specific strengths in sport and Guatemala has developed others, making these useful for us all to share. Therefore, this makes the signing of this agreement a marvellous opportunity and from it can come various avenues of activities so that Jamaican and Guatemalan athletes can come together."

Secretary-General and CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Ryan Foster, who announced the agreement between the two Olympic organizations, explained that both Olympic bodies understand that efforts and relationships in sport must first be athlete-centric and dedicated.

 “Then, for stakeholders' engagement and empowerment and this agreement which we have signed is written testimony of that fact and the reality that friendships and unity in sport defy language barriers and the breadth of seas and oceans," he said.

Director of International Affairs of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, Neville Steins, emphasized the importance and high value of the agreement in the context of bringing “not only our countries together through sport, but more still, bringing together the Caribbean and Central America in eliminating the absence of communication owing to language differences through the use of sport and thus bring our countries' athletes together for the common good."

The JOA's foreign policy supports strong and strategic partnerships in providing enabling opportunities for athletes, coaches and administrators.

 "The JOA will continue to build strong partnerships across borders and continents. We started in December 2017 when we inked in Japan with the Tottori Prefecture Government an agreement which is facilitating collaboration beyond the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as for us sport development and diplomacy go beyond events and are life-changing experiences spanning generations. We will continue in earnest as sport is an enabler, equalizer and unifier" President Samuda said.

More Sports On Board for the Cali Junior Pan-American Games

The list of sports in which Jamaica will be represented at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games in Cali, Colombia, continues to grow with the latest additions being Skateboarding, Squash and Archery.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, describes the strong showing as "proof positive that the JOA's policy of equal opportunity, parity in investment and empowering the next-generation is encouraging and having results."

Representation now stands at a historic 12 sports, by far the largest number of sports that the local Olympic movement has ever had at a multi-sport regional or international games.

This fact has prompted President Samuda to say: "For us, at the JOA, strength lies in numbers, strength lies in a wealth of talent and strength lies in the conviction that today's real-time investment is tomorrow's history-making dividends."

Preparation for Cali is on in earnest and, for the Samuda-led administration, management of games generally has become a "business of sport" undertaking.

Commenting on the new approach, JOA Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Investing in and banking on the inflow of talent, increasing the numbers on the books,  creating opportunities for exponential growth and having a professional management team to  manage flow and outflow of games is our business at the JOA."

The positive response of the juniors augurs well for the future of the Olympic movement which is founded on the fundamental principles of inclusion and allowing each athlete the opportunity to transition to the international stage where, Secretary-General Foster stated, "history awaits those who had the discipline to train and the present will to succeed."

The Cali games will be held between November 25 and December 5 and "it will provide Jamaica's juniors and those of the America's opportunities to test their credentials for the 2023 Pan-American Games with the hope of graduating to the finale in 2024 in Paris" President Samuda stated.

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange has said that every arriving athlete from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be greeted by her on arrival.

The Jamaica Football Federation has conveyed a message of congratulations to Christopher Samuda who was overwhelmingly returned as president of the Jamaica Olympic Association during an Extraordinary Annual General Meeting on Saturday.

The noted attorney will serve another four-year term after handsomely defeating challenger Alan Beckford 40-10 in the voting.

The significance of the vote of confidence was not lost on the JFF.

“The Jamaica Football Federation heartily congratulates Mr Christopher Samuda on his re-election as President of the Jamaica Olympic Association,” it said in a statement.

“The overwhelming support given to his re-election is an indication of the quality of leadership he has given, especially as he has extended the support of the JOA to many non-traditional sporting entities even whilst maintaining guidance to the traditional sports.

“The JFF has benefitted in many ways from his stewardship in particular in the recharging of professional football and overall guidance on other initiatives. We extend congratulations to the entire executive including our own Vice President Raymond Anderson and the first female 1st Vice- President of the JOA, Jacqueline Cowan. We look forward to forging an even stronger working relationship with the JOA going forward.”

Cowan of the Jamaica Volleyball Association defeated incumbent first Vice-President Nelson Stokes 29-11.

Robert Scott is the second vice-president after defeating Ian Forbes, 33-17.

Nichole Case was unopposed as treasurer.

The Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange praised Veronica Campbell-Brown for her outstanding career as Jamaica’s decorated athlete.

As they aspire to achieve loftier goals at sports’ ultimate event, the nation’s latest qualifiers for the Olympic Games and sporting associations they represent, have expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for the assistance afforded in attaining their Tokyo goal.

The very successful staging of the inaugural Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA)/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) ‘Olympic Destiny’ track and field series has arrested the attention of the global sporting fraternity in a manner that has left experts shouting "bravo".

In a publication, World Athletics stated that the series is "aptly named JOA/JAAA ‘Olympic Destiny’. The Washington Post newspaper in the United States also had the event on its radar with a report on the explosive world-leading 10.63 performance of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres.

Performances during the series were also captured in traditional and new media entities worldwide.

Although only in its first year, ‘Olympic Destiny’ has already earned a reputation locally and internationally as a standard-bearer in track and field, which the JOA and its member association, the JAAA, intend to guard jealously.

Contemplating current health challenges and risks and looking to the future, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, in a post-event interview, stated that, "Olympic Destiny gave athletes a new and inspired lease on life amidst the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national senior trials will be the 'Olympic Verdict' as athletes vie for coveted places at the pinnacle multi-sport the Olympic Games”.

The description, ‘Olympic Verdict’, of the national senior trials, is on point as several events, including the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and the triple jump for both men and women, as well as the discus for men, are expected to be competitive and showstoppers.

Secretary-General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, in anticipating keen contests, remarked that "on D-day at the national senior trials, diplomacy will somewhat give way to assertive rivalry for at the end of it all there will be one verdict, which performances will deliver.”

This year's national senior trials between June 24 and 27 at the National Stadium is indeed the ‘Olympic Verdict’ as "emerging generations will meet experienced campaigners in a decider that will be healthy for the sport, thrilling for the fans and ensure succession," Foster said.

The jury will certainly not be out where the staging of future Destiny series is concerned as the JOA intends to roll out ‘Olympic Destiny’ in 2022 and beyond in athletics and other sports.

"Olympic Destiny is now a staple on the calendar as we have earmarked the summer and winter Games as dramatic watershed events of exciting times ahead of us,'' Samuda declared.

If the significant turnout of athletes and the notable performances are anything to go by, the ‘Olympic Destiny’ Series will become not only a local product of Olympism but an international asset.

 

A berth at this year's summer Tokyo Olympic games is undoubtedly on the radar of Jamaica's top table tennis players, Simon Tomlinson and Kane Watson, who both continue to show impressive form at the international camp in Broward, Florida, where they are currently in training for the Olympic qualifiers later this month in Argentina.

Ever since COVID-19 took real effect on the Jamaican landscape around March 2020, the local sporting fraternity has taken a battering, with the vast majority of disciplines forced off the playground and their architects, the sportsmen and sportswomen, unable to parade their skills.

A record number of coaches across the spectrum of sports have responded to the call of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in respect of a hi-level coaches' course, which will be delivered by Panam Sports in partnership with the Canadian Coaching Association.

 More than 70 stakeholders have registered their commitment to pursue the course, which will cover Coaching Philosophy and Leadership, Advanced Performance Planning, Energy Systems and Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Psychology, Advanced Injury Prevention and Recovery Strategies and High-Performance Analysis.

 The call by JOA is in keeping with its developmental strategies of which education and training are critical elements. In a communique to member federations and stakeholders concerning the course, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, made clear that the game plan of the governing body is "to build capacity for today's feats and tomorrow's legacies".

 The course is part of a suite of educational courses that the apex body is continuing to make accessible to stakeholders and supports the Advanced Sports Management Course (ASMC) which the JOA will, for the first time in its history, make available to a cohort in the Diaspora.

 There has never been a response of this magnitude by the sporting fraternity to any of its coaching initiatives.

In applauding the tremendous response to the coaches' course and the ASMC - which continues to be over-subscribed - JOA Secretary General/CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Our members and stakeholders have not only seized the JOA's vision of the value of education and training but have embraced the known principle that an investment in education pays the best dividends in your working life and is your pension in your twilight years."

The national association for Olympic and non-Olympic sports is driven in creating and investing in lifelong skills and knowledge-based and technically equipped stakeholders. 

Samuda, in commenting on the strategic direction of JOA, stated: "The creation of a sports industry demands a physical and socio-economic infrastructure that is based on viable investments in the human capital and not on hand-outs, for the latter creates a dependency while the former promotes independence and mastery."

 Mastery, in the various disciplines of sport, is the business of the JOA which quite recently also made two calls for opportunities in pursuing master's degrees. The Master of Arts (MA), a postgraduate degree in Sports, Ethics and Integrity, and the Master of Sport Administration (MSP), a postgraduate degree in organizational management, sports marketing and research, are both tenable at international universities.

They will inaugurate an initiative that the JOA has branded ‘Olympic EduPower’ that will provide masters and doctoral educational opportunities for members and stakeholders in empowering them.

 “If sport is to become a sustainable business then the mind must first have and make an educated appointment with destiny, which the body will then be conditioned to keep it," said Samuda.

 Reflecting on Foster's comment last month when announcing that the JOA's pioneering Internship Programme, Samuda said it “is all about self-actualisation and a personal call to own your future in sport”.

 The Internship Programme is currently underway at Olympic Manor, the headquarters of the JOA.

 The JOA will create Olympic history locally, and arguably globally when later this year it makes its Internship Programme available to Jamaicans in the Diaspora. It will also in the second quarter of this year, through its educational ‘Stamina’ forum series roll-out, in collaboration with international federations, customized courses for administrators and coaches as part of its investment in education.

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association and the Olympians Association of Jamaica have paid tribute to Olympian Les Laing, who died on the weekend.

Laing, who was born in Linstead, St Catherine on February 19, 1925, represented Jamaica at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics was a member of the famed 4x400m relay team that won gold in Helsinki. He is the third member of the iconic quartet to have died leaving behind George Rhoden as the only surviving member.

Arthur Wint died in 1992 while Herb McKenley passed in 2007.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) mourns the loss of a member of our household but celebrates the life he lived inspiringly on the track which mirrored the personality of this son of Linstead,” the JOA said in a statement released on Sunday.

“Leslie Alphonso Laing's feats as an Olympian are well documented and we salute him with grateful hands. But more importantly, it is the spirit of the gentlemen which has inspirited generations of athletes and earned the abiding respect of a nation.

“In a world where recorded statistics of sporting achievements are understandably cited in praise of men, the JOA reflects deeply and respectfully on Laing's self-sacrificial service to his country and the soul of his ground-breaking feet.”

Meanwhile, the OAJ described Laing as a hero.

OAJ President Marvin Anderson said he one of the nation's Olympic pioneers.

“Arthur Wint, Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden set a world record 3 minutes 03.9 seconds to defeat a top-class US team at the Games in London,” Anderson said. "His heroic relay run of 47 seconds flat was all the more remarkable because he was a specialist 200-metres man."

Laing, Anderson said, leaves behind a substantial legacy from his days on the track.

“While many Jamaican track stars emerged from the US college circuit, the Linstead-native rose to prominence in Britain as a member of the Polytechnic Harriers Club in London. Fittingly, he made his Olympic debut in that city in 1948, placing sixth in the 200 metres final with McKenley fourth.

 “An injury to Wint in the 4x400 final prompted Laing and his teammates to vow to return and win four years later in Helsinki, Finland. Running faster in every round, Laing became the first Jamaican to reach an Olympic sprint final twice and improved his finish to fifth place. Despite his short stature, he delivered a stout-hearted second leg run to help Jamaica to fulfil the promise made in London.”

 Laing retired after a 1954 season when he narrowly missed taking the sprint double at the CAC Games in Mexico City where he won the 200 and took silver in the 100m.

Laing was recognized by the respected US publication TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, which listed him in its annual world rankings three times - at number 9 in 1948, number 10 in 1949 and at number 9 once more in 1953.

"His accomplishments paved the way for Jamaica in the sprints," Anderson said.

 “In fact, no other Jamaican would reach back-to-back Olympic 200m finals until Don Quarrie did it in 1976 and 1980. Mr Laing was a pioneer who showed us what was possible for us in the 200 and thanks to the start he provided, Jamaica has excelled in that event."

Laing was married to 1948 high jump finalist Carmen Phipps.

 

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