GLOBAL interest continues to grow in Jamaica's athletics programme on the back of its overwhelming successes at recent Olympic Games and World Championships.
At a press briefing yesterday at the Courtleigh Hotel, the president of the Business of Sport entity, Carole Beckford, announced a partnership with Australian firm Competitive Edge and the Spanish Town-based GC Foster College to provide coaching to athletes from 'Down Under'.
Beckford told the Jamaica Observer the deal is only part of a move towards seeing Jamaica reaping benefits from its exploits in the international track and field arena.
"The Business of Sports initiative is really to put an economic value to Jamaica's successes in sports and see how we can match them. Australia needs technical assistance in track and field, but there is more to it.
"There's an exchange of technical expertise, marketing and management. I think it's natural for Commonwealth countries which have existing relationships to come together," said Beckford, while adding that the Australians will provide rugby and basketball clinics to local participants.
Hayden Knowles, managing director of Competitive Edge, said the opportunity was a big one for his contingent of 10 athletes, which includes Jordan Caldow, a beach runner with Jamaican heritage; Olympian Andrew McCabe; and Aboriginal youngsters who are indigenous to rural Australia.
"This move is changing the game. It has never happened before and it will change some lives. We've got some kids who have never been out of Outback Australia.
"For our elite guys they are looking for an edge... (and) they have travelled the other side of the world to find it, and there's no better place than the best (sprint training location) in the world.
"We plan on making this a regular thing and bringing athletes into the country and also sending invites for Jamaicans to come 'Down Under'," Knowles said.
Jamaica's track guru Maurice Wilson who's certified by the world governing body (IAAF) as a Level V coach, is the technical director and will guide the Australian athletes, who will be based at GC Foster.
He expects the foreign athletes to be keen on picking up all they can from the local coaches during the two-week course, which is largely propelled by main sponsors KFC; as well as Digicel, Pepsi Jamaica, through its Gatorade brand; Yellow Pages, Courtleigh Hotel & Suites and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
"It's going to be an interactive process where we find out what their objectives are for the season and we will assimilate that with our programme. Persons are so fascinated with what is happening in Jamaica, so they are going to be interested in what we do. It will not be a difficult process as we make decisions regarding the way forward," Wilson said.
Meanwhile, the expenditure of the Aussie contingent is projected at US$45,000 and will be covered by that country.