Sport

361 comes full circle in local athletics

BY PAUL A REID Observer Writer

Friday, June 29, 2012    

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IN addition to the world-class athletes and exciting competition expected at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Trials at the National Stadium this weekend, the Jamaican track and field fan base will be introduced to one of the fastest rising sports apparel companies in the world, 361 degrees.

The Chinese company is no stranger to the Jamaican sports scene after sponsoring the widely successful team to the World University Games in China last year.

The 361 brand has been seen at almost all local track and field meets this year, as over a dozen high schools have been presented with gear.

The brand is set to be even more noticeable with the signing of six top Jamaican athletes — former World 100m hurdles champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton; Olympic Relay gold medallist Michael Frater; sprinter Kimmari Roach; intermediate hurdler Josef Robertson; sprint hurdler Natasha Ruddock, and two-time World Junior 100m champion Dexter Lee this week.

The brand has been associated with the island from as far back as 2009, Ajani Harris Williams, a managing partner in VAST Incorporated, the agency that represents 361 degrees in Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer this week.

Williams, a former NBA player and the president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA), is partner with Benedikt Von Dohnanyi, a German national who resides in Switzerland.

The company has been around since 2003, trading publicly since 2009 and in that time, has clawed its way to third in the Chinese market, behind Li Ning and Anta, Williams said.

With 8,000 retail outlets in China, 361 degrees is in total control of all their products from manufacture to retail, unlike other brands which outsource at several levels, he added.

This weekend, Williams said, fans at the National Trials should be prepared for innovative colours and schemes that will add to what is expected to be an already vibrant atmosphere.

Foster-Hylton was excited when she spoke to the Observer last week during a photo shoot.

"I really like the designs that 361 degrees have come up with, and I like the idea that I was able to make my input," she said.

The former world champion said she was thrilled that they managed to incorporate her favourite colours as well as "they also had butterflies and I really like butterflies, so I am really having fun with them".

The design for the men's apparel, Williams said, had incorporated dragons, which was welcomed by all the men and all will sport the official Jamaica 50 design typology in both cultures.

The creativity behind the designs, he added, were all local based and signalled their "willingness to get fully integrated into the Jamaican spectrum".

He said 361's aim was to "gain a premier position in the Jamaican market and invest across different sectors".

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