THE sponsors dipped into the box and hoped to etch their names on one of the marquee events at the 37th staging of the prestigious Gibson Relays at a luncheon held yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel. But the luck of the draw did not favour everyone. Not that it could.
With every announcement, there was either a loud applause or relative silence depending on which event a sponsor got for the massive relays set for Saturday, February 23.
MJD Pharmaceutical might consider themselves luckiest having secured the sponsorship of the 4X100m Institution Men Championship, an event which may pit Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and their Racers Track Club against the Asafa Powell-led MVP — two clubs boasting a remarkable cadre of super-fast people.
However, there was no confirmation as to their participation, but last year without Bolt, Blake led Racers to a world-leading time of 38.46 seconds.
Professor Rainford Wilks, chairman of the organising committee, once again thanked the sponsors for their dedication, some of who have been around since the inception in 1973.
"Last year has passed very quickly and here we are again for the 37th renewal. The 36th renewal was very successful and, except for some delays which tarnished our on time reputation, we had a very good year," said Wilks.
He continued: "This was due to the loyal support of you our sponsors, volunteers, officials, and fans. No tribute can be too great for you the sponsor and, in return, we continue to improve the Gibson Relays product so that you can be assured value for money."
There will be 34 events of which eight are championship races. The 4x100m High School Boys' event will be sponsored by Child's Play; Petcom secured the 4x100m Girls' Championship; 4x800m High School Boys' Open goes to Jamaica Public Service, and CIBC captured the 4x800m High School Girls' Open.
The 4x400m Institution Men Championship will be sponsored by JTA Co-op Credit Union with Grace Foods securing the 4x400m High School Girls' Open and the 4x400m High School Boys' Open being sponsored by Gas Products Limited.
All the other 28 races secured sponsors with Sagicor tagging their name on four races. The other sponsors are: Advanced Sales and Equipment, Berger Paints, CitiBank, COK, Dairy Industries, Eastwood Limited, Fidelity Motors, General Accident, Gillette, Guardian Life, Jamaica Biscuit Co, Laribo Marketing, Lucozade, NACAC, Nestlé, Pepsi, Puma, Rainbow Awnings, Security Administrators, Seprod, Sherwin Williams, Singer, the Art Printery, and Western Union.
Danielle Barnes, Pepsi's brand manager for Gatorade, the official hydration sponsor of the relays, said his compnay "is more than happy" to be on board.
Alfred Francis, representing Art Printery, highlighted that every sponsor wants to associate with an event that is credible, create goodwill and contribute to nation-building.
"The Gibson Relays is one of the most exciting events you can think of, and we are thankful to be associated with this spectacular event," said Francis.
Keith Adams, of Rainbow Awnings, said the Gibson Relays, for the most part is organised with high levels of efficiency. "Gibson Relays, as far as I can remember, is the first meet that starts on time and ends on time, and it represented a standard that all other meet could emulate," he said.
Meanwhile, there will be a slight increase in ticket costs to the National Stadium. It will cost $2,000 for a finish line ticket; $1,500 for the general Grandstand and $300 to enter the Bleachers area, up from $200. Also, Bleachers tickets can be purchased for $200 if bought in blocks of 50 or more.