JIS News

Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has advised of plans to strengthen and to expand institutional infrastructure, for the development of athletics, and sports in general.
“We don’t need anything more than what you (the athletes) have done in Beijing to convince us how powerful a tool of development sports can be. Therefore, we are going to use this occasion, along with the support that we hope to get from sponsors, with what Government will provide, with what the private sector is going to be prepared to commit. We want to do a number of things that will make it easier for those who come after you (athletes), to become champions just like you,” he said.
Mr. Golding was addressing the athletes at a welcome reception, held at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, yesterday (October 3), as part of activities for the Olympic Homecoming celebrations, which will last from October 3 to 10.
He said that the athletes, who have “become icons in the minds of Jamaicans, but particularly Jamaican young people,” were in a position to make a difference in the lives of young people, and encouraged them to convey the positive message to young persons in their communities, that they can achieve success as the Olympians have done, through perseverance.
“I want to urge you, in whatever you do, whatever you say, in the arrangement we have made for you in the next couple of days, we have made sure to include arrangements for you to go back to your own communities, so that you can transmit that message to the youngsters in your community, that they must never give up on themselves, that they can become great Jamaicans if they do what you have done,” Mr. Golding said.
Mr. Golding emphasised that it also had to be communicated to the young people that it takes much sacrifice in order to be successful. “There’s nobody that can just jump on a plane and go to Beijing and win gold medals. It takes work, you have to give up certain things in order to do the things that make you a champion, and if we can get a message to them that look, you can be a world star too. You have to first of all believe in yourself, you have to convince yourself that you can be the best in the world, and once you have done that, start working on it, make the sacrifices that have to be made, seek the assistance that you need and stay focused on what you want to achieve, and you could be the biggest star,” he added.
The Prime Minister said that the athletes have made such an impact on the world, that on his recent trip to the United States of America (USA), to address the United Nations General Assembly, the first thing US President George Bush said to him was how powerful the performances of the country’s athletes were in Beijing.
Congratulating the athletes on their performances, Mr. Golding said that the former Olympians, “who helped to blaze the trail that you (the athletes) have continued to expand,” must always be recognised for being part of the success of the athletes.
“We are happy to have everyone here. You left here as a team, we want to celebrate you as a team, and even though not everyone could have won medals, we regard everybody as a champion. Thank you for all that you did, thank you for the excitement that you have brought to Jamaica. Thanks for putting Jamaica on the map once again,” he added.
The team to the Olympics won six gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
In the meantime, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, in her remarks, informed that the first draft of the National Sports Policy is nearing completion. She said the policy is taking its cue from the irrefutable evidence that sport is important to Jamaicans in every single community.
“Sport generates important values, such as team spirit, solidarity, tolerance, fairplay and of course unity. It crosses political boundaries, and it crosses religious and colour lines. It promotes the active contribution of Jamaicans to society and so help to foster active citizenship. The conclusion is inescapable – the highest priority must be given to sport as a focal point of national, social and economical development,” Miss Grange emphasised.
At the ceremony, selected athletes were presented with the Keys to the city by Mayor of Kingston, Senator Desmond McKenzie.