Skateboarding eager to resume Olympic chase


Skateboarding eager to resume Olympic chase

Saturday, May 23, 2020

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Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL), the Olympic representative body for the sport in this country, has targeted growing the sport and its athletes as a major priority.

President of SJL, Ryan Foster, highlighted key areas for the roll-out of this development for the sport to gather some speed as the country begins to relax measures for safeguarding citizens owing to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Prior to tightened safety measures globally, Jamaica's Tafari Whitter was busy on the trail towards securing qualification to the Olympic Games which were scheduled for Tokyo, Japan, this summer. As a consequence of the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been shifted to next year and Foster, who is also chief executive officer and secretary general of the country's apex body for sport, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), outlined the association's desire of pursuing that primary goal of having historic Jamaica and regional representation, while also creating a pathway for all-round growth of the sport and its participants.

Foster said: “Despite the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021, the skateboarding dream continues. The pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of our qualifiers as well as it has hampered our athletes' ability to train. However, we have remained positive that we will be able to resume our programme shortly and continue our journey of qualifying the first Caribbean country in the sport.”

Steve Douglas, vice-president, SJL, stated a similar view and confidence in Jamaica's quest.

“The 2021 Olympics is going to display great talents as there is sufficient time to prepare, train and participate in the qualifying competitions. The SJL recent world ranking of 114 by Tafari Whitter for Jamaica's skateboarding Olympic team has put Jamaica in a solid position for qualifying for the 2020 Olympics,” Douglas observed.

Whitter was actively engaged on that path in World Skate's Open Street qualifiers on the international stage, placing 27th at their last event — in Rio de Janeiro — in January last.

Whitter noted his joy and commitment at representing Jamaica and expressed gratitude for the support he has received from his affiliated local sporting bodies.

Whitter said: “I'm a happy born Jamaican and I am grateful for the Jamaica Olympic Association and Skateboarding Jamaica Limited, most importantly my roots and love for skateboarding, because without my roots I wouldn't be here where I am at today training, competing, and travelling with the team, my family.

“I am looking forward to train hard and compete to qualify Jamaica for the 2021 Olympics and I will apply all my skills as a professional skateboarder to represent the SJL and Jamaica,” added the 22-year-old, who is based in California and competes there against world-level skaters on a regular basis.

Given Jamaica's fairly new quest at Olympic qualification, the JOA had announced plans to assist SJL by developing skate parks here to facilitate growing participation locally and training bases for its national representatives. That plan has not changed.

“We are actively looking at supporting our athletes and, by extension, to continue to grow the sport in the island and regionally. Qualification to the Olympics is one of our main objectives, but long term we want to develop a sustainable model for the longevity of skateboarding across the country,” Foster shared.

“We want to carry out a national draft for skateboarding to widen the pool of athletes and create greater opportunities for them to self-actualise.”

That self-actualisation includes off-track activities.

“We are actively looking at financial opportunities to support our members through scholarships, grants and subsidies,” outlined Foster. “We will be announcing same in the later part of this year.”

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