... Minister urges drug testing at UWI
AS the University of the West Indies (UWI) trumpeted its most successful year in sports and star-studded Racers Track Club accepting the Mona campus facilities until 2030, Minister without portfolio in charge of Sports Natalie Neita-Headley has called for programmes on personal development for young athletes.
The minister also highlighted the drug-testing facility in the Department of Chemistry, asserting that the unit needs to pursue the option of becoming an accredited WADA-testing facility.
Neita-Headley was speaking at the UWI's Annual Sports Award Ceremony on Thursday night where Olympic bronze medallist Hansle Parchment and Sunshine Girl Malysha Kelly copped the male and female Athletes of the Year awards.
Neita-Headley challenged the university to strengthen young sportsmen and women through personal development programmes which would help them "to navigate the minefield of media scrutiny and speak well for themselves and their nation in any forum".
"I want you to help them bridge that gap," the minister added.
She noted that having a WADA-testing resource would "allow Jamaican sporting bodies and Caribbean-wide sporting bodies to make use of these facilities and save on the expenses to send testing samples further afield".
"The technology exists; the scientists are ready. Let us make the next move. It would be a fantastic achievement for Jamaica and the UWI.
"UWI has the expertise and the facility to detect drugs at the levels of parts per trillion. The institution's chief analyst has been trained abroad to analyse various synthetic and natural steroids and the UWI's analytical capability is on par with international standards," she stressed.
Meanwhile, Director of Sports Dalton Myers said Mona's hockey, table tennis, volleyball, football and netball teams triumphed at the inter-collegiate level, while in club competitions, their volleyball, table tennis and cricket teams won national titles.
"The cricket team did this under the leadership of a first-year student, Paul Palmer, and significantly, this was the first time we were entering the JCA Junior Cup and this was the first for a tertiary institution," he pointed out.
He said the table tennis trio of Tracey-Ann Dattadeen, Shanique Claire and Yvonne Foster represented Jamaica at the World Table Tennis Team Championships in Germany — the first for a country in over 40 years.
Myers also cited Jason Young's 19.86 seconds in the 200 metres which made him the fourth fastest man in the world at the time, while Parchment's Olympic bronze and national record 13.12 seconds were unforgettable moments.
He said UWI had taken sports to a higher level through a strategic plan involving an increase in the number of academic programmes in sports; an expansion of the UWI sports medicine clinic; an expanded and diverse scholarship programme; partnerships with the Jamaica Table Tennis Association and the Jamaica Basketball Association, and facility development.
Special awards were given to the university's national representatives including Andre Bernal and Dravian Williams in football; Kemar Mitchell, Brandon Patterson, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Hendricks, Giovanne Campbell and Kharey Gayle in hockey; and Kelly, Shadian Hemmings and Nadine Bryan in netball.