Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JAGA) President Nicole Grant is optimistic that an increase in corporate interest will be one of the positive spin-offs to come from the Supreme Ventures-sponsored Gymnastics Classic and National Trials scheduled for this weekend.
Aside from the exposure it will bring to over 70 of the country's top gymnasts, Grant believes proper media coverage of the two-day trial could also assist in attracting more sponsors to the sport to provide a solid base for what will be another busy calendar year lined with a number of prestigious events.
Both local and overseas gymnasts including England-based Tyesha Mattis, who qualified for the World Championship last year along with Danyella Holmes, who represented at the Commonwealth Games, and Jamilia Duffus, are to converge at the Jamaica School of Gymnastics' Slipe Road base on Saturday and Sunday, with hopes of making teams to various championships this year.
"We are very elated that we again have the support of Supreme Ventures through the kind support of the Jamaica Olympic Association and we also have Peachtree Centre on board for this the second staging of the Gymnastics Classic. The support is very important to us because last year we saw Tyesha qualify for the World Championship and was unable to attend due to a lack of sponsorship," Grant told the Jamaica Observer.
"So we welcome every and any support we can get to allow our athletes to excel at what they do. We have some very exciting events coming up this year on the calendar and we hope to garner more corporate interest for the sport so we can attain the true forward momentum we desire," she added.
Grant, who has always been big on development, said the weekend's proceedings not only provide a platform for local gymnasts, in particular, to show the significant strides they have made, but the level of competition expected should also assist in improving their craft.
The senior athletes will be competing for five spots to the Pan American Gymnastic Championships in Colombia in May, which serves as a qualifier for the prestigious Pan Am Games in Chile and also for the World Championships scheded for October in Belgium. At the World Championships, gymnasts will have a chance to qualify for next year's Olympic Games in Paris.
Those seniors would also carry the country's hopes at the CAC Games in El Salvador in July, while the top junior gymnasts will take the lone spot to the Junior World Championships in Turkey in March.
The Pan American Gymnastics Union (PAGU) elite selectees will compete at the PAGU Hopes Tournament later this year.
"For the major junior and senior events, we are very hopeful that Jamaica will book a spot at the World Championships and hopefully the Olympics next year, which is the main target. Our athletes have been working very hard and so it would only be rewarding if one or more can achieve what I am sure would be a dream qualification," Grant said.
"Our local-based gymnasts are improving at an acceptable pace and we are indeed excited about that. They will be competing later this year at the PAGU Hopes Tournament, which we have some time to prepare for, and we hope they will be ready as we only expect the best from our youngsters," she said.
On that note, Grant declared JAGA's readiness to host the country's current and future stars in the making.
"Preparation has been going very well, especially with help from the Supreme Ventures team. We have an increase in participation so you can imagine alot is in store at this super important event because the only way to compete on any of those teams is to qualify from the trials," she shared.
"It's gonna be very competitive, especially for the junior elites. We have a few injuries in our senior ranks so some athletes will not be attending the meet but still may have the opportunity to represent Jamaica this year if spots remain on the team after the trials, and if they are cleared before the event and [are] capable of competing," Grant ended.
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