MONTEGO BAY, St James — Organisers of the Western Relays were given a pleasant surprise on Monday when former title sponsor Nestle Jamaica, through its brand Milo, reached out to resume support of the meet that will be held on Saturday at GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in Angels, St Catherine, starting at 10:00 am.
After being the title sponsors for 24 years, Milo was not part of last year's renewal of the meet that was last held in 2020 just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that saw the cessation of sports across the island.
At Tuesday's media launch held at Deja Resorts on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay, meet director Ray Harvey and regional consumer marketing manager for Nestle Jamaica Chevanne Lawrence both stressed there was "no falling out between the parties".
Harvey, who said the parties were still working on the finer details of the sponsorship after extensive talks on Monday, welcomed the return of the sponsor.
"The absence of Milo in 2022 was a big blow, but we managed to have a good meet... but with Milo back we can fill a big hole in the budget," he said.
Harvey said with Milo's direct injection of $4 million they were able to "reinstate our cash incentives to the winners, give more assistance to the western schools to help with transportation, reduce entry fees, especially for the smaller programmes; our 25 years relationship is alive and well".
In the absence of Milo last year, Harvey said they got assistance from several other sponsors including the Sports Development Foundation, the Jamaica Olympic Association, Gibson/Mcook Relays and Wisynco, most of whom were back this year.
Lawrence, who rued the fact that the meet was not being held in western Jamaica, said: "Milo never walked away; we were always committed to the Western Relays."
He explained that last year's absence was due to decisions made by the company coming directly out of the pandemic.
The event will return to a full schedule this year after a shortened one last year and will have five relays — 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and Sprint Medley for all classes plus men and women Open; 100m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 3,000m Open as well as sprint hurdles in all classes, 400m hurdles Open for male and female as well as long and high jump Open for both genders.
World Under-20 silver medallists Bouwahjgie Nkrumie of Kingston College and Serena Cole of Edwin Allen High will be recognised for outstanding 2022 seasons by the organisers.
— Paul A Reid
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