JOA ahead in preparations for London 2012

JOA ahead in preparations for London 2012

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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FIRST vice-president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Don Anderson, says putting in the administrative work for the nation's athletes ahead of the London Olympics is a massive, expensive and complex undertaking.

Speaking at the Observer's weekly Monday Exchange, the renowned pollster said the planning into the campaign aimed at repeat Olympic glory started as far back as January last year, with its execution now entering the final lap.

"The planning is like a year-and-half before the Games actually start and we are right at peak planning right now — three months before the game. Planning is going very well and we are right at the stage where we are having weekly meetings with (prospective) team managers," Anderson told a battery of reporters and editors at the Newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters yesterday.

The London Games is scheduled to run from July 27 to August 12, and where Jamaica's track stars — led by the inimitable Usain Bolt — are once again expected to set the world alight.

Anderson, who has been to five Olympic Games as Jamaica's chef de mission, conceded that it's an extremely costly exercise to firstly prepare the teams and then to care for them at the games.

The good news for those directly involved, though, is that most of those associated expenses are covered by the Jacques Rogge-led IOC.

"In an Olympic year, the bulk of the expenses is taken care of by the Olympic movement (through) the Olympic Solidarity Commission (OSC)... the purpose of that commission was to plough back into Olympic associations around the world.

"There is commission for travel and there is no cost associated with accommodations in the (athletes) village... it's the only games we go to that we do not have to pay for accommodations," said Anderson.

He noted that the IOC was able to offer greater assistance to national Olympic bodies worldwide as its revenues and investment portfolio grew, and the turnaround in those fortunes is believed to have occurred at the 1984 Los Angeles Games "which was the first to make a lot of money".

As part of its outreach to its membership, the IOC also assists each with a grant of £25,000 (about J$3.5 million) for hosting a pre-Olympic training camp.

Jamaica, who is expected to have between a 85- and a 90-member contingent to the London Games, will host its mandatory training camp July 15-26, in the Midlands city of Birmingham, but the IOC sum will not suffice.

"In previous years we have had to get additional assistance, and our gear sponsor Puma have also come to our assistance in those situations," Anderson explained.

GraceKennedy has also stepped up to the plate and will provide meals for the athletes, coaches and other staff for the 12-day training exercise.

Anderson, who is second in charge of the Mike Fennell-led JOA, said the £25,000 injection towards the camp will only be paid out if it is applied for.

"This is money which the International Olympic Committee makes available to every national Olympic committee around the world, but we have to make proper representation for it... it doesn't come to us and it is paid to the entity that is hosting the training camp," he said.

The deadline to submit all documentation which will ensure that Jamaica can benefit from this facility, was expected to expire yesterday

"I can tell you that today (yesterday) is the deadline to submit all those invoices... or we could lose that £25,000," Anderson noted, fully cognisant that in this fast-paced business of Olympic athletics missed deadlines could be costly.

Anderson, who will again take up his substantive travelling post as chef de mission to London, said Birmingham was chosen as the team's base after carefully reviewing other offers and paying a visit to the city himself.

"What you find happening is that Olympic committees around the world try to find out the best location based on the sports they are participating in... and we signed up with Birmingham over a year ago following a visit to Birmingham and decided that Birmingham will be the official training camp," he said in addressing a wide range of issues related to the Olympics and track and field generally.

The athletics executive said the JOA has concretised the policy dealing with the mandatory pre-tournament camps following controversy on the issue prior .

"The camp is mandatory and it is always manadatory. I believe now they are putting in place a process by which every athlete will have to sign and that is supposed to guarantee their participation in the training camp," Anderson noted.

Meanwhile, apart from Keith Edwards in taekwondo and Samantha Albert in equestrian, swimmers and boxers and track and field athletes -- including Bolt, Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser — still have not booked their spots on the team.

In the case of the track and field athletes, they will have their chance at the Senior National Trials set for the National Stadium over four days — June 28 to July 1.

Anderson noted that four disciplines are expected to be contested by Jamaicans in London, but he is hoping for a "maximum of about five as it's still a possibility of having a qualifier from badminton".

"We have a strong hold on the track and field world and we will be significantly represented, to put everything into perspective, we don't have any qualifiers yet, but we are on the road for that clearly," he said.

With a record 11 medals from the 2008 Beijing Games, where Bolt starred by copping gold in record-breaking runs in both sprint, pundits' early posture suggest more could be there for the taking.

"Some people think that we are going to win 13, but that is not something that I would go with... we did 11 in Beijing, but that doesn't mean we are going to do that in London... the United States and other countries are devising all kinds of ways of counteracting us," ended Anderson, cautious in not wanting to commit to a figure.

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