Gracious Grace!

Title sponsors GraceKennedy pumps US$4 million into Champs through 2025

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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“Champs” will retain the name Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships for at least another seven years.

Don Wehby, Group CEO of GraceKennedy, made the revelation yesterday at the launch of the 107th staging of the event at the Spanish Court Hotel and also announced that the deal was worth over US$4 million. This deal is set to run through to 2025.

“We have signed a contract for another seven years for GraceKennedy to continue to sponsor Champs. It's an honour, it's a privilege for GraceKennedy to be associated with this event, and I thank you (ISSA) for continuing the relationship with us.

“GraceKennedy has made a commitment of over US$4 million for the life of the sponsorship, (over half-billion Jamaican dollars). That seems a lot of money, and it is a lot of money for GraceKennedy, but at the end of the day, as a company that has been around for 96 years, we believe in Jamaica. GraceKennedy will continue to invest heavily in Jamaica for a better Jamaica,” Wehby boldly declared.

In addition to the increase in sponsorship of the overall event, GraceKennedy will also be increasing benefits to outstanding individual athletes.

“At GraceKennedy we like to recognise excellence. Two years ago, I made an announcement in terms of those athletes who break and set new records. Twenty seven records were broken in 2017. For those records that were broken each school received an award of $25,000. This year we are going to up the ante and increase the award to $30,000 for each record broken,” the CEO informed the audience. For the first time, however, the athletes who win the awards will have a say in how the funds are spent.

“We are being very specific in the use of the funds. The funds are to be used for a school development project agreed on via consultation with the students and the administrators. The student who breaks the record will have a great input in terms of how these funds are to be used in the school.”

Dr Walton Small, president of ISSA and Principal of Wolmer's Boys' School addressed the tricky issue of grandstand tickets, which is always a challenge, especially on the final two days.

“There is not one additional seat in the grandstand, so let us go and enjoy the championships. If you can't get into the grandstand come on over in the bleachers and let us have fun over there. This year we have not increased the cost of our tickets,” Small declared.

The cost for tickets prices this year are $10,000 for season premium tickets, $9,000 for regular season tickets; Wednesday and Thursday, adults $500, children two years and older $100; Friday, bleachers for adults $500 and students in uniform, $350; grandstand on Friday will cost $3,500, and on Saturday, grandstand $5,000; bleachers $1,500. Tuesday will remain free of cost and only the grandstand will be open on that day, likewise Wednesday and Thursday. Addressing the principals and the coaches, Small urged them to meet the deadline for entry, which is today at 4:00 pm.

“The principals, the coaches, the management of various teams, tomorrow (today) at 4 o'clock will be the deadline for entries; do not wait until you are locked out of Champs and then you create bad publicity this year. Make sure that you find your way to ISSA and get in your entries before 4 o'clock. We do not want any attention to be taken away from the positive aspects of Champs; meet the deadline,” he stressed.

Speaking on behalf of kit sponsors PUMA, former Champs star and now national representative Jaheel Hyde spoke to the issue of sportsmanship amongst competitors.

“Champs is about sportsmanship. I hate to watch the television and see the athletes showboating on each other. It's not a good look for the sport. You run through the line, you are supposed to shake each other's hands and relive the moment, because the same athlete you are showboating on can beat you the next day.”

Champs will be staged between Tuesday, March 20 and Saturday, March 24 at the National Stadium.

— Dwayne Richards




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