We are, admittedly, among the biggest supporters of the Racers Grand Prix and its organiser, Mr Glen Mills, who has shown great courage in moving to help monetise Jamaica's superlative achievements in world athletics.
We have taken note of Mr Mills' disclosure that his Racers Track Club has a US$1 million price tag to stage the Racers Grand Prix athletics event next month at the National Stadium in St Andrew. That hefty sum is by no means surprising, given the calibre of athletes attracted by the meet.
For example, among the galaxy of Jamaican and overseas stars down to compete at the event are world champions Jamaican Ms Shericka Jackson; American Mr Noah Lyles; Nigerian Ms Tobi Amusan, the 100m hurdles world record holder; Olympic champion Jamaican Mr Hansle Parchment; former Olympic champion and 400m hurdles world record holder Ms Dalilah Muhammad of the United States; former Olympic champion Mr Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder from South Africa; American world champion Mr Christian Coleman; Jamaicans Mr Akeem Blake and Mr Oblique Seville; and Olympian Anguillan-British sprinter Mr Zharnel Hughes.
The ability to lure such an impressive line-up speaks volumes of Jamaica's esteem and standing in the world of athletics, which is in keeping with our overall contribution to the success of the sport on the international level.
It also reinforces the prestige and respect that Mr Mills and Racers Track Club enjoy worldwide, as Mr Mills is revered as the man who has produced, and continues to turn out some of Jamaica's greatest athletic talents, Mr Usain Bolt being the most prominent among them.
We commend Mr Mills and his team for their fixity of purpose in getting the grand prix back on the track and field calendar after a three-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And even as the meet is now ranked by World Athletics as a silver category event — coming from its Continental Gold category before the pandemic — we share Mr Mills' conviction that what is important is staging the meet, as it also provides a platform for athletes just beginning their professional careers.
"We understand the economic challenge right now, coming out of the pandemic but, despite the difficulties, we didn't want to allow inertia to stop us from doing anything. We figured that once we got started it would make an impact," the legendary coach said at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
We also commend the grand prix's three sponsors — adidas, which is also a sponsor of Racers Track Club; luxury watch company Richard Mille; and Jamaica's Ministry of Sport, through the Sports Development Foundation — for seeing the benefit of the meet. Indeed, Sports Minister Ms Olivia "Babsy" Grange's consistent support for sport, especially track and field athletics, is becoming legendary.
Going forward, though, we hope that the grand prix will be able to attract more sponsors and divest itself of reliance on the sport ministry, as Government is under constant pressure from all sports to provide support.
Moreover, while we believe that taxpayers should assist in the development of our athletes who bring such glory to our country, what they are doing is a job from which their earnings, generally speaking, do not find its way directly to the Government's coffers.
Here's to a successful Racers Grand Prix and a full stadium on June 3.
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