AN inter-ministerial committee to examine the billion-dollar sports industry in Jamaica will be established, said Natalie Headley-Neita minister without portfolio for sports during the launch of the eleventh staging of the Queen's/Grace Jackson track and field meet.
"In this way, I believe Jamaica will be able to harness the full potential that can be derived from sports.
"I am not begrudging what Puma gets from our sports; I am not begrudging what any other country benefits from our sports, but we must benefit more than them," said Headley-Neita, to loud applause at the press conference at the Queen's school compound yesterday.
"In this regard, I am looking forward to establishing an inter-ministerial committee that will examine the business of sports and how sports in Jamaica affects the respective sectors," she noted.
"The staging of this meet is a testimony to one of our great athletes in Grace Jackson," said the minister.
The Queen's/ Grace Jackson meet, which was established in 2002, will take place at the National Stadium on Saturday, January 28, starting at 8:30 am.
Olive McNaughton, chairperson of the meet, said this event has become a fixture on the athletics calendar.
"We have had many clubs and institutions targeting this meet for opening their competitive season. This meet is also at a strategic date that many of the high schools coaches use to gauge where their athletes are in their preparation for Champs," McNaughton pointed out.
"The event has grown into one of the signature events on the local... calendar. Over the last two years, we have had over 2000 athletes from various institutions, and this year we expect it to be no different," she added.
Olympian Grace Jackson, patron of the meet, said she is happy to be a part of an event named in her honour while she is alive.
"There are not many people who get an opportunity to enjoy what they have done for a nation because they have passed on. I am living it, I am a part of it," said Jackson, who won a 200m silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in 21.72 seconds behind a world-record run by the late Florence Griffiths-Joyner in 21.34.
The meet will again have several sponsors in Glaxo Smithkline, distributors of Lucozade, GraceKennedy, Western Union, Wisynco Wata, Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), Gleaner, KLASS FM, Lillian's Limited, Training Camp and Rainbow Awnings.
Christopher Cook, Junior sales representative of gold sponsor Glaxo Smithkline, said Jamaica's reputation in track and field is not by accident.
"There are many opportunities in our island for meets such as this to harness our athletes' talents and drive them to accomplish their true potential," noted Cook.
The GlaxoSmithkline sponsorship package will be $350,000 in cash and $150,000 in products for a total of $500,000.
Entry forms must be submitted online by Monday, January 23 to www.queensgracejacksonmeet.com.jm.
Entry fees are $150 per team athlete and $400 per individual athlete. Late entries will attract an additional $500 and no entries will be accepted on the day of the competition.
Admission will be $300 for adults and students with valid identification and children under 12, $150.
This year, there will be a presentation for the performance of the top male and female athletes and also a special award to the top athlete from The Queen's School.
The discus and javelin events were added to the list of events which includes in 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500 (male invitational), 4x400m Open, sprint medley open, triple jump, high jump, long jump and shot put.
Meanwhile, five outstanding Queen's students/athletes were granted $12,000 scholarships for the year to help with school fees and books. From track and field are, Jessica Noble, Shadae Fulwood; Tavia Porter and Priscilla Thomas from netball and Shanique Murray of hockey.