Gymnastics association starts new year with search for coach
Nicole Grant says that the Jamaica Gymnastics Association’s (JGA) immediate goal for 2024 is to hire a technical coach as it looks to build on its achievements from 2023.
Grant says she hopes to find the right coach soon based on Jamaica’s performance as host of the Pan American Youth/Hopes tournament, and a summit of Caribbean gymnastics association presidents in Kingston in December.
But to find this coach, Grant is also seeking help from the Ministry of Sport.
“The Ministry of Sport has really come forward,” Grant told the Jamaica Observer. “It has always been there supporting our events. We have reached out to them asking for help for a technical coach that can help us in areas that we are weak in and they have reached out to us very quickly. We are happy that they are willing to help us bring in a coach to Jamaica who can work with us on a monthly basis to guide our programme.”
JGA says the need for a technical coach is urgent because of what it describes as a busy schedule for 2024.
“There are a number of events that our youngsters and national seniors will be competing in,” Grant said. “But it’s the year of the Olympics and unfortunately, we did not qualify for it, so we’re working towards seeing how best we can qualify for some World Cups. But the main aim is to put together a training plan that can help them progress on an annual basis towards the next Olympics.
“Our juniors, we are continuing to work with them and we want to bring in the coach as quickly as possible and start the programme to prepare them for the next Pan American Hopes tournament in 2025. We’re also getting the nod from our affiliates in terms of us hosting the next Pan American Gymnastics Championships. Hopefully we’ll be hosting that come the end of this year. It just boils down to availability and funding for the other Caribbean nations who would like to be a part of it.”
Jamaica’s Reggae Birdz competed at the Youth/Hopes tournament against gymnasts from Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela, and won the bars event.
“The fact that we hosted the Pan Am tournament, and came first on the bars, it has also highlighted us not only in the Pan Am region, but outside of the region as we have been getting congratulations from countries like Azerbaijan,” Grant said. “Their minister of sports has come forward and congratulated our youngsters for that achievement. The International Gymnastics Federation Technical Committee has also congratulated us for the achievement and I expect that they are willing to work with us even further to help improve our gymnastics, especially in the areas of weakness.
“They were able to see that we had the accommodation, the venue, and they saw that we had the facilities to host. Trinidad and Tobago was the only Caribbean nation outside of Jamaica, who actually competed and they were very impressed with our ability and capabilities. They congratulated us and said they want to work a little closer with us in terms of the development aspect of their programme.”
Although Jamaica’s programme has achieved success in recent years, with participation at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, as well as a bronze medal by Tyesha Mattis at the Central American and Caribbean Games last summer, Grant says that she does not compare it with others across the Caribbean. She says her only aim is for each Caribbean territory’s programmes to have collective growth.
“We’re looking into areas of strength and areas of weaknesses that we can build on and help each other to improve on,” she said. “We’ll look at the strengths of each country and see how we can mimic some of those. And we’ll look at the weaknesses and see how we can help each other to build.
“The Pan Am tournament is a big achievement and it happening at the end of the year really culminates the year with a good assessment of our programme that we have been working on for some time. I can say that we are getting there. I wouldn’t say that we are there yet because there’s a lot that we need to improve on, a lot that we need to achieve and we’ll continue to work on them.”