Jamaica Could Host Caribbean’s First Grand Prix

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s annual Invitational Track and Field Meet could be upgraded to a full IAAF Grand Prix by next year. Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange told journalists and track and field enthusiasts gathered at the Puma/Jamaica Lounge in Beijing yesterday, that high level discussions were taking place to have Jamaica host the region’s first premier athletics event.

She was guest speaker at the launch of the new edition of Judge Patrick Robinson’s informational publication, ‘Jamaican Athletics, a Model for the World.’

Minister Grange said she believed Jamaica had done well enough in the sport and had accumulated sufficient administrative experience over decades to be able to host such an event.

“Our performances in track and field have spoken for themselves over the years. Now we must take things one step further and become a regular fixture on the annual athletics calendar. We have secured buy-in from the senior stakeholders in Jamaican track and field and we are working hard to make this happen.”

She said that a working committee to move the project forward will be established on her return to Jamaica.

Minister Grange said the Grand Prix would form part of a package of sports tourism initiatives which will seek to bring the world’s best athletes to Jamaica regularly.

“We have seen here in Beijing the power of Brand Jamaica at work. There is no more exciting word in Beijing, than Jamaica at the moment. We have seen how the locals line up for photo opportunities with anybody in a Jamaica shirt; we have seen how they have sought after our pins and other memorabilia. Jamaica is the buzz word right now and we plan to fully exploit the Brand Jamaica concept, with sports at the centre.”

Judge Robinson, a Jamaican who serves at the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands has been a track and field aficionado since his early days at Jamaica College where he was part of the track and field team.

His book provides vital statistics on Jamaica’s athletic performances over the years, offering little known facts on those who have represented the country over the years.

Judge Robinson said he was moved to write the book to try and satisfy the curiosity of those who have looked on in awe at the amazing performances by athletes from this tiny Caribbean island for decades.

He presented signed copies of the book to Minister Grange and Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett. The Chinese version was also unveiled. (JIS)

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