Local paralympians head for London Games
BOOSTED by the trio of medals won by Jamaicans in the Men's 200m at the Olympics, the national team yesterday departed for the Paralympic Games in London from August 29 to September 12.
"I'm going there to see if I can get the gold. I know the class is going to be hard but it don't matter, I'm going there to do my best and make my country proud of me," discus and javelin competitor Sylvia Grant told the Jamaica Observer.
Grant, who competes in the F57 class is the most experienced member of the six member squad having competed at six previous Paralympic Games.
"I love what is going on. Bolt is one of my friends so Bolt always," Grant said as she talked about the world record holder's double gold medals in the 100m and 200m at the Olympic Games currently on in London.
The other team members include Tanto Campbell, who won a bronze medal in the discus in Beijing four years ago, and Alphonso Cunningham, who will compete in the discus and javelin.
Three other debutantes make up the squad — Shane Hudson, Toni Greaves, and Javon Campbell — but head coach Neville Sinclair told the Observer they will not compete but will, however, participate in a training camp which will be held in Bedfordshire in England prior to the Games.
He was confident that the team would return with more than the one medal won the last time around and that Campbell would be aiming for a world record in his pet event.
"We have a rounded team. The team is focussed and we should be doing pretty well. What I can safely say is that last Olympics we got one bronze. This Olympics we'll be bettering that. I can assure you that," Sinclair said.
Technical leader Ann Marie Smith and team doctor Rory Dixon left yesterday, while Chef de Mission Suzanne Harris-Henry will depart at a later date.
"They're raring to go. I'm happy that for the first time we're able to send them to a pre-Games training camp. That's a good opportunity for them to acclimatise because I hear the weather in London is not very nice," Harris- Henry said.
"They're all aware that their classes are merged and when you have merging of classes medals are not necessarily guaranteed but certainly I know they're going to work really, really hard towards medals."
The squad was aided by a $2-million injection of cash from team sponsors Digicel to go towards per diem expenses for the contingent.
"We've made this donation for the Paralympics to continue riding on the energy of what is going on in London. We're very proud of the entire Jamaica Olympics team. We're sure it's going to be great," Jacqueline Burrell, the company's public relations manager, said.