Paralympic Association boss already looking to ParisSunday, September 12, 2021
BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
President of the Paralympic Association of Jamaica Christopher Samuda was in high spirits upon his return to the island last week, after yet another creditable showing by the country's athletes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Samuda felt that, despite not winning any medals, the four athletes, Sylvia Grant, Alberto Campbell, Shauna-Kay Hines and Theador Subba, delivered once again, on the international stage, for the country.
“The performance was more than creditable. I think our athletes displayed the character and the mettle. When you look at, comparatively speaking, other athletes and the facilities that they have and the competitions that they go to continuously, our athletes have done admirably well.”
Samuda hailed the two fighters, Hines from Para-Taekwondo and Subba from Para-Judo, who are virtual newcomers to the sport.
“Shauna-Kay and Subba, three years in the sport, Pan American medalists and now Paralympians. I don't think that we get that ordinarily, every day in athletes. They have demonstrated character and they have demonstrated a love for country and they have soldiered on as good athletes and good Paralympians despite the challenges that they have.”
The other two team members, veteran Sylvia Grant and Alberto Campbell, were also singled out for their courageous displays in Tokyo.
“Certainly, Sylvia has led by example. A fifty-odd-year-old athlete, had it not been for the merger of classes, which, of course, has to be addressed by the IPC, she would have picked up a medal and then of course, Alberto Campbell, born here, now resides in Australia.
“Perhaps what he said encapsulates everything. He said, 'It's an honour to represent my country, it is an honour to feel that I am worthy, to represent my country,' and I think that encapsulates the spirit of the Paralympians.”
The president said that his athletes were taught what it is that took priority in being a Jamaican Paralympian.
“We teach our Paralympians to demonstrate good character before gold medals, because once you have that character then the gold medals will fall in place.”
He also thanked the persons behind the scenes who worked hard to ensure that the athletes could give of their best on the highest stage of athletic performance, even as he looked to the next Games in Paris in 2024.
“I want to commend our team for the excellent work that they have done. They have built a team for the Paralympic Games, short of admiration and certainly what we are going to be doing is looking toward Paris now. Certainly, there will be games intervening, the Para-Pan Games, the Commonwealth Games and other championships.”
Samuda also thanked the country for continuing to throwing its support behind the Paralympians.
“I really want to thank Jamaica for the support that they have extended to the Paralympians. We go beyond the incredible and we make possible, the impossible in the circumstances.”
In closing, Samuda congratulated not only the athletes but the management team that had travelled with them to the Games.
“I want to congratulate our athletes, I want to congratulate the Chef de Mission Richard Shaw, his managers, the administrative manager, Ann-Marie Smith and certainly our team doctor Leroy Harrison, [he] not only contextualized attributes of the human spirit in a very religious context, but provided inspiration for our athletes as they performed.”
The next international event for the nation's Paralympians will be at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England next year.