Duncanson proud of Jamaican roots, big fan of Special athletes
GRAZ, Austria — A visitor animatedly approached the Special Olympics Jamaica floor hockey team as members sat in the stands at Stadthalle on Sunday.
She was all smiles and bursting with excitement as she greeted members of the delegation in Austria for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
It turns out that Ayana Duncanson, the daughter of two Jamaicans living in the United States, had been waiting for that moment for days — the moment she would see the unmistakable black, green and gold.
“I was so excited when I saw the guys, and I thought ‘are those the colours?’” Duncanson recounted.
“I immediately texted my mom and my dad saying I saw the Jamaican athletes. So they were telling me to go take a selfie with them [the Jamaican athletes] because they are so proud anytime they see that [Jamaican] flag, and to connect on that level, it brings you back home immediately,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Duncanson, 25, is based in New York, however she is at the 2017 Games here in Austria representing an agency attached to technology firm Microsoft, one of the official partners of Special Olympics.
Though she was born in the US, the Jamaican’s roots seem to be firm, with her father being from St Ann and her mom from Kingston.
“When I was younger I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go back to Jamaica very often and I’ve grown to love it. I usually stay at my grandparents in Havendale, but the most recent time I went back was in the summer of 2014 and it was for vacation in Ocho Rios with a couple of friends,” she explained.
“My family is absolutely very proud to be a part of the culture and so are we, no matter that I grew up just outside of Queens in New York.
“They did a really good job of making sure that we’re close-knit... and have that culture of family and the Jamaican roots; the food, the music and everything,” she said, stressing how close the country is to her heart.
There were words of encouragement for the Jamaica delegation too, as the Games kick into high gear over the next two days before the closing ceremony on Friday.
“I’m very happy I ran into the [Jamaican] guys and I wish them all the luck at these Games. It’s been a beautiful experience being here, absorbing all of the amazing things that are happening, and to see all of this come to life,” Duncanson said.
The Jamaicans are competing in speed skating on ice and floor hockey here in Austria.
– Sanjay Myers