- The games of the 31st Olympiad get under way on August 5 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
- Jamaica enters this year’s Olympics as one of the most anticipated teams.
- Jamaica will create history in Rio, when the country, for the first time, fields two athletes in gymnastics and diving.
The games of the 31st Olympiad get under way on August 5 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
A total of 11,239 athletes representing 207 countries will participate in 306 events from 38 sporting disciplines, over 17 days of competition.
Jamaica enters this year’s Olympics as one of the most anticipated teams. The country has a strong Olympic pedigree and has participated in 15 Olympic Games to date, beginning with the 1948 Summer Games in London, England. Then, Jamaica won three medals – one gold and two silver.
Jamaica has always medalled at the Olympics, with the highest tally being 12 at the 2012 London Olympics – fourr gold, four silver, and four bronze.
Jamaica’s highest number of gold medals was achieved at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with six in total.
The country is expected to do well in Rio, with predictions for between nine and 11 medals. One thing is for certain is that the entire nation will be fully behind the athletes as they compete in what is regarded as the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the team represents the best of human talent, naturally produced in Jamaica.
“We will show this natural talent at the pinnacle of World Competition at the Olympics. Indeed, it is my wish that we take home a healthy medal tally, and we’re expecting it. I want to wish our athletes all the best, #nuffmedals,” he said.
The Prime Minister assured the athletes that they have the nation’s love and support, even if they do not medal. “We will still celebrate you when you return because you’ve done your best,” he said.
Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, wished the athletes well as they prepare to compete.
“Jamaica is sending you with God’s blessing, with courage and pride. We are champions; wi likle but wi tallawah must always be your mantra. We are a great sporting nation and we shall remain great,” she said.
She urged the more experienced athletes to share any lessons and experience they have garnered from previous engagements with those who are experiencing the Olympics for the first time, as the global stage can be very overwhelming.
The majority of Jamaica’s medals are expected to come from the track and field athletes, with the world’s fastest man and reigning Olympic champion in the men’s 100- and 200-metre events, Usain Bolt, expected to retain his titles.
Medals are also expected in the women’s 100- and 200-metre sprints, as well as both the men’s and women’s 4×100-metre relays.
Jamaica will create history in Rio, when the country, for the first time, fields two athletes in gymnastics and diving. Gymnast Toni Ann Williams will compete in the uneven bars, beam, vault, floor exercise and individual all round.
Diver, Yona Knight Wisdom, will take the platform for the three-metre springboard event.
Wisdom said the support of Jamaicans will push him to do well. “I won’t be able to hear them but to know that the support is there will be phenomenal, and that will push me to do even better,” he says.
Two athletes will compete in swimming events – the outstanding Alia Atkinson and Timothy Wynter in the 100-metre backstroke events.
“Alia has been performing very well, she’s set many national records in recent months, so I would say she is absolutely pumped up,” notes Past President of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica, Martin Lyn.
He said that “Timothy… it’s going to be his first Olympics, certainly for the experience and to be able to say he’s been there. I think it will do him a world of good.”
Toni Ann will be Jamaica’s first competitor at the games, when she competes at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 6 and 7.
Alia and Timothy will take to the pool at the Olympics Aquatic Centre on August 7. Track and field will be held from August 12 through to 20 at the Olympic Stadium in Maracana.
Chef de Mission for Jamaica’s Delegation to the Rio Olympics is Vishu Tolan.