Sport

Shelly-Ann urges young athletes to dream big

... As $4.5-million JTA/Sagicor Champs launched

By Sean Williams

Thursday, May 01, 2014    

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SHELLY-ANN Fraser-Pryce, in her typical vivacious style, had her audience spellbound as she recalled her fledgling years performing JTA/Sagicor National Athletics Championships and other meets of the like.

The double Olympic sprint champion was also in her inspirational element as she urged young, aspiring athletes to dream big as she delivered the keynote address at the media launch of the annual JTA/Sagicor National Athletics Championships on Church Street yesterday morning.

"Back in the day when I performed at the meet, it felt good and it felt big. It was important not only for the competition it provided, but the lasting friendships that were formed," said Fraser-Pryce, the patron of the meet scheduled for the National Stadium on May 16-17.

"Up to this day, this is one of the meets that has kept me going. For the students who will compete, this is the beginning of great things to come if they decide to take it (athletics career) further," said the queen of the Jamaica track.

As she has done on many occasions before, Fraser-Pryce didn't deliver her stirring speech from a script. She spoke from the heart.

She specifically reached out to the young athletes in attendance at the Jamaica Teachers' Association headquarters in downtown Kingston, when she told them that track and field goes way beyond competition on the track, as it has helped to shape her as a person off the track as well.

"This championship will serve to prepare the kids to be better individuals, and will prepare them for what life will throw at them," she said.

Fraser-Pryce cautioned the future generation of athletes that nothing is impossible, and they should not allow detractors to derail their dreams of making it big as athletes and as human beings.

"I want to tell all of you that nothing is impossible; you can achieve big despite how small you are. And let me tell you, success is not a matter of luck, it's the result of hard work and dedication," she said, triggering rapturous applause from the gathering.

The World Indoor 100m champion recalled how her success was built by a combination of life circumstances and various individuals along the journey of life, and warned the youngsters that their lives, too, will be guided along by others.

"Becoming Olympic champion (for the first time) was surreal for me, and in looking back, not one person, but different people played roles in the success," Fraser-Pryce noted.

Outgoing president of the JTTA, Dr Mark Nicely, said the occasion of the press launch was significant because "we are here about the critical business of the wholesome development of our children".

Meanwhile, Sagicor announced a $4.5 million sponsorship for this year's event. In addition to the sponsorship, Sagicor will provide two five-year academic scholarships at the secondary school level to the champion boy and champion girl of the meet, a tradition which has been upheld for over four years now.

Ingrid Card, Assistant Vice-President of Group Marketing at Sagicor Jamaica, said: "It is remarkable to watch the growth of our athletes from JTA/Sagicor Champs through to Boys' and Girls' Champs and then on to international meets such as the Olympics. Sagicor is proud to be a part of such a vital aspect of youth development."

In preparation for the meet, athletes ranging from ages six through 17 from schools within each parish have participated in inter-parish/divisional meets. The top athletes for each meet were then selected to represent their individual parishes. A parish coordinator is then assigned to these athletes, who guides them through training and team building exercises.

Ena Barclay, Liaison Officer at the JTA has said: "The continued support from Sagicor is commendable, as they not only offer financial assistance, but are real partners through their team members."

While day one remains free, day two of the Championships (Saturday) will attract a minimal charge of $100 for children and $200 for adults. Spectators can anticipate a spectacular performance from 2012 parish champion, Portland as they set to defeat 2013 parish winner St Andrew for the 2014 title.

Among the sponsors for the 31st staging of the event are the Jamaica Observer, Wisynco, JP Foods, and TVJ.

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