UNIVERSITY of Technology (UTech) acting director of sport Laurence Garriques believes the sixth UTech Track and Field Classic set for April 13 at the National Stadium could be the biggest yet.
Garriques, speaking to the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday, said the inclusion of preparatory, primary and high schools, as well as Paralympic athletes will complement the string of inter-collegiate and club competitors.
Based on those ingredients he reasoned that the 2013 edition provides a wide scope of participation and should encourage potential sponsors to storm the various partnership packages available.
"The 2013 Track & Field Classic is probably the most exciting we've had since the inception in 2008. We are inviting top prep and primary schools, top high schools, top inter-collegiate teams, and also the top clubs. We have confirmed MVP and Racers (Track) clubs and other upcoming and emerging clubs. We are giving handsome prize money of $1.2m for the champion club.
"Overall we are looking to have a world-class meet that should attract sponsors. We have a wide slate of events which also includes the Paralympics. The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) has endorsed the meet as a qualifier for the Paralympics, so it is something we are looking forward to and are pleased about," he said at the UTech Classic sponsors briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Sponsor packages include Premier, which is valued at $6m; Gold ($2.5m); Silver ($1.5m); Bronze ($750,000) and Associate ($375,000).
Garriques explained that high school students will participate in Under-17 and Under-20 categories and identified the UTech meet as the ideal platform for athletes to prepare for the annual Penn Relays.
He noted that invitations are also open to overseas-located institutions, while adding that the University of Albany in the United States has already confirmed its participation.
President of the Jamaica Paralympic Association Christopher Samuda said he is grateful for the opportunity to use the UTech Classic as a qualifying event for the Lyon 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in July.
"We (paralympic athletes) featured last year, but this year it's greater as the IPC has recognised the UTech Classic, not only as a qualifying event for the World Athletics Championship in Lyon, France, but also as a Paralympic event.
"Clearly it allows us greater profile and it is going to enhance awareness of persons in Jamaica of the Paralympic movement. It will also allow Jamaica the opportunity to be eye-balled by the international committee as a location to host games which includes paralympic sports," Samuda said.