Sport

Paralympic Association aims high

President Chris Samuda says he is hoping for good year built on the successes of 2013

BY SHERDON COWAN OBSERVER WRITER

Tuesday, January 21, 2014    

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PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Paralympic Association Christopher Samuda has described 2013 as a challenging but creditable year and is hopeful that 2014 will be a fulfilling and historic one for the association.

Samuda who assumed presidency in March 2012 said that despite the challenges the association's performance was creditable.

"The association has a board with strong and varied professional skills and competencies which facilitate sound policy and decision making and strategic forecasting, planning and execution.

"The administrative staff is committed and continues to create value despite the lack of resources which is a perennial challenge," he bemoaned.

Samuda indicated that last year saw the association put in a better and more workable structure to their administrative arm and coaching methodologies and the association will continue to work in those areas as they are important indices of success.

He went on to state that sponsorship to the association is slow in coming but is thankful for those who came on board and assisted with funding.

"In the last two years we have been able to secure critical sponsorship and in this regard, I wish to record our gratitude to Newport Fersan (Jamaica) Limited and its managing director, Dennis Valdez, Digicel and its committed duo of Conor Looney and Tahnida Nunes and Downsound Records Joseph Bogdanovich," he said.

"Funding however, remained a challenge in 2013 and Jamaica needs to embrace the admirable record of our Paralympic athletes in a more meaningful way. We are deserving with an unparalleled record to date of 78 gold medals, 47 silver medals and 40 bronze medals in international games and championships," Samuda said.

The president highlighted that Jamaica's national as well as international status were further enhanced last year to the extent that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) granted their request to sanction the UTech Track and Field Classic as a Paralympic qualifying meet which was a historic move.

"This was historic as it was the first time it has been done in Jamaica and I believe in the Caribbean. So successful was the meet that the IPC has again fully endorsed this year's meet and is giving more support," he explained.

Samuda told the Jamaica Observer that this was done to the benefit of the athletes as the association is strapped for cash.

"We successfully negotiated this as it allows our athletes to stay right here in Jamaica with an opportunity to do qualifying performances for international games and championships and to be officially classified. Otherwise, we would have to secure funding to send them away which would be impossible."

Samuda is also encouraging disabled persons to come forward while asking corporate Jamaica to reach out.

"Disabled persons need to come forward and corporate Jamaica needs to assist the association in reaching and inspiring them. We will be targeting and further developing our wheelchair basketball programme and inaugurating fencing and archery as sporting disciplines.

"I am looking forward to engendering the Paralympic ideals of inspiration, aspiration, physical and emotional fortitude. The will to be and to become so as to ignite Jamaica," he added.

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