Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange visited the Olympic Village in Beijing today, where she met with members of the Jamaican contingent and interacted with the athletes. She was joined by Minister of Tourism, Ed Bartlett and other members of the official delegation to the 29th Olympic Games being held in China.
The Minister, who is the head of the Government of Jamaica’s delegation in China, offered words of encouragement to the athletes and revved on the track and field contingent, who bow into action tomorrow.
Among those meeting and greeting the minister were Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Maurice Smith, Veronica Campbell, Aleen Bailey, Michael Blackwood and Danny McFarlane.
She presented a bouquet of flowers to head coach Glen Mills who was celebrating a birthday.
The minister said she found the vibes in the village very good and commended the athletes and managers for their efforts in preparing for the games.
Sports Minister Babsy Grange with Usain Bolt left and former 200 metres Olympic Gold Medalist Donald Quarrie
She toured the impressive facility which houses more than 10,000 athletes and officials and held discussions with members of the management team.
Minister Grange expressed confidence that Jamaica would do very well at the Beijing Games but stopped short of predicting the country’s medal haul. “We have been building up to this moment for many years. Our Olympics tradition dates back to 1948 and over the years people like Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, Les Laing, Donald Quarrie, Bert Cameron, Merlene Ottey and even some of those currently competing, have brought us much joy and hope. We have our strongest contingent ever in Beijing and we want to take home as many medals as are possible. We appreciate all the athletes here and even those who do not win a medal, we want them to know that Jamaica is extremely proud of their achievements.”
The minister called on Jamaicans at home to pray for the athletes and to support them unceasingly. “They are competing thousands of miles away before billions of people worldwide. They need continuous support. Keep them in your thoughts and your prayers. Watch the games and enjoy their performances.”
The Track and Field Competition runs off tomorrow morning with the preliminary sessions for a number of highly anticipated events including the men’s 100 metres which features the world’s two fastest men, Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt. Dorian Scott competes in the Shot Put and Kenia Sinclair has an outing in the 800 metres.
The evening sessions will feature the men’s 100 metres quarter finals, qualification for the 3000 metres Steeple Chase with Mardrea Hyman and Korene, the final of the men’s shot put, Trecia Smith in qualification for the Women’s Triple Jump and the heats of the Men’s 400 Metres Hurdles featuring Jamaica’s most decorated athlete, Danny McFarlane.
McFarlane said the athletes were rearing to go and described the feeling in the camp as tremendous. “Many of us have been here before so we know what it’s about but I see an eagerness among the debutants that is exciting. We are going out there to leave everything on the track because we know that the world is watching Jamaica.”
Glen Mills said he expected a grand start to the athletics competition despite the torrential rain that pummeled Beijing to today.