JOA boss advocates the building of the total athlete

Observer writer

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda is calling for a focus on the mental and moral preparation of the next generation of Jamaican athletes as the country continues to stamp its authority in the world of global sporting endeavour.

The recently elected president of Jamaica's over-arching sports governing body wants dialogue to be opened on building a valuable sporting culture.

“Let us reason on the classic imperatives in building a culture in sport that creates value in sport; on which the business of sport, the economics of sport, the sciences of sport and competitive sport are, or rather should be, built.

“Track and field is about character in success and in failure. It's about valour in temptation and weakness. It's about values manifested in lives lived on and off the track and field,” he reasoned during a presentation at the launch of the Camperdown Classic last week.

“We talk about the commerce and monetisation of sport, and their acknowledged importance to the performance of sport as well as the administration of sport, which is now accepted as a multi-billion worldwide industry,” Samuda went on.

With so many cases of doping in the sport of track and field being reported in recent times, especially the case of the state-sponsored doping in Russia, Samuda believes the “truth” needs to be spoken about.

“Let us talk about the business of truth in sport, which, unlike the commerce of sport, is not for sale or cannot be purchased.

“Truth, the moral foundation beneath the spikes of an athlete; truth which creates an inspired bar for Fosbury flop athletes to reach and to attain.

Truth which lengthens the pitch for jumpers to establish their marks in the sand of history.

Truth which the man-made hurdles of life, no matter their height, cannot prevent the attainment of the imperishable prize,” noted Samuda.

While admitting the frailties of the human being, the Wolmer's Boys' graduate made a rallying cry for all those responsible for our athletes to help them learn the “truth”.

“Yes, we all have failings, we all make mistakes and errors. But this does not disqualify us from engaging in the business of truth.

“With all the failings in the world of sport today, with the onslaught on integrity and values, we must teach our youth the business of truth in sport. Coaches, managers, doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists — we all must become educators of the business of truth in sport,” he said.

A lawyer by trade, Samuda suggested that all athletes should be mandated to take a course on ethics and anti- doping that will redound to their own benefits.

“If we are serious about teaching the business of truth in sport, then there is value in the view that it should become a mandatory course for athletes wishing to represent the country. Ethics, which is central to Olympism, and anti-doping, for which athletes should become activists, are two subjects that should inform the knowledge base of athletes and become their DNA experience,” he reasoned.

“Is a mandatory four-hour training session in ethics, in anti-doping, in the principles of Olympism, out of a year of say 8,760 hours too demanding of athletes aspiring to wear the national colours?

Is a commitment to building character for four hours in 8,760 hours of a year too demanding of the athlete?

Is the formalised teaching of the business of truth in sport too demanding a requirement in the life of athletes?” Samuda asked.

In his push for educating aspiring athletes, Samuda also suggested that educational institutions across the country should become a part of the process of the dissemination of information.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association stands on the principles of Olympism which, for us, should become a mandatory course in our educational institutions of sport. Before you know the how of doing things, you must know the why of doing. Before you know the when of doing things, you must know the why — the reason for doing.

“Olympism is the way. Olympism is the reason, the rationale, the purpose, and the justification. Olympism is, in and of itself, a way of life, of thinking and action, which embodies the valour and inspiration of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility, and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles,” he continued.

“Olympism educates an athlete on the reality and humanity of disappointment and failures to achieve goals set, but it teaches an athlete why he or she should emerge, with an indomitable spirit, from that reality and strive purposefully toward the horizon,” Samuda said.

In closing his presentation to the audience at the launch of the 14th staging of the Camperdown Classic, Samuda challenged the athletes to fight on manfully regardless of how difficult it is for them.

“The road to the horizon of our aspirations may be steep, but it cannot and it will not defy our steps and strides; and “yes”, the rain may pour as the athlete journeys on that road, but it cannot and it will not dampen or drench the will to achieve and succeed.

“Young athletes, you are the beneficiaries of the spirit of the Camperdown Classic. You must now internalise that spirit and infect the world.

“Jamaica to the world” must, for you, go beyond brand appeal and become a rallying cry for truth in sport,” Samuda continued in his presentation.

Samuda is also the president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association.

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