US diaspora fetes SOJ athletes on layover in New York

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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NEW YORK, United States — Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) deserves the greatest praise for flying the country's flag high, according to members of the diaspora.

The SOJ athletes and coaches are heading back from the Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they won a record 33 medals, highlighted by 15 gold.

“I hope Jamaica really puts it into perspective and gives it its true accolade. It would be the most any team representing Jamaica had ever garnered at any major event,” said Irwine Clare, chairman of Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), a charitable entity based in the United States.

“I hope Jamaica can ensure that these youngsters feel special. But more than that, Jamaica must be special towards them, and recognise that resources and infrastructure need to be put in place,” he said.

Clare and his team including Lance Clarke, the organisation's chief financial officer, provided meals for the Jamaican contingent during their lengthy layover at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York yesterday.

“We are elated that today in the United States a group of Jamaicans can greet a Jamaican team here in the United States. We enjoy hosting our teams, we enjoy ensuring that brand Jamaica is placed on its highest pedestal. And this is what our team did in the UAE, and we're very proud of them,” Clare told the Jamaica Observer.

Lisa Bryan Smart, the deputy Consul General to New York, was also on hand to greet the team at the airport.

“It's just a privilege to see such a large team representing Jamaica. The black, green and gold is alive and well here at JFK International Airport. I met quite a few of the athletes, they are all enthusiastic and they've made us really proud. It's just amazing the power they bring to brand Jamaica — something I don't think you think can pay for and something I hope to see more and more of,” she said.

Lorna Bell, the SOJ executive director and head of delegation to the recently concluded World Games, lauded the support given by the Jamaican Middle East Diaspora (JMED) and Team Jamaica Bickle.

“What a way to end this trip. I always say together we are strong and our Jamaicans, the JMED in Abu Dhabi, and now Team Jamaica Bickle in New York, and our consul general have stood behind us. The big man Irwine Clare and his team are here to make sure our athletes are well fed,” she said.

The team is scheduled to arrive in Jamaica today.

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