President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda was on hand to witness the third staging of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Qualification Trials inside National Stadium as the series came to an end last Saturday.
Following a delayed restart to the track and field season, Jamaica’s Olympic hopefuls have now started to test themselves in competitive action with an eye on the Tokyo Games, which is scheduled to begin in late July.
President Samuda described the resumption of track and field as positive and a welcomed change for the sport.
“Certainly, it’s a positive move in the right direction. I think the athletes were waiting for this day. They have international championships ahead of them and they have to get conditioned quickly. So, it’s a welcomed change, and I think everybody is very satisfied with how things are going now,” he said.
Samuda was happy that the athletes can now prepare in a real way for both the World Relays in May as well as the “big ticket” summer Olympic Games.
“Absolutely, like a good soldier you have to condition yourselves, and these meets, of course, are conditioning the athletes for competition as well as creating an environment as best as you can so that they will be accustomed to the environment for which they hope.
“But certainly, for the Olympic Games we always encourage our athletes to be ready in the event of anything. For any eventuality that attends them, they must be ready as good soldiers for the battle, and I’m satisfied that they are conditioning our athletes for the battle,” he noted.
The question still remains about the possibility of fans outside of Japan travelling to that country to watch the Games. Samuda said that he expects the issue to be resolved, one way or another, in short order.
“My understanding is that a decision has not been taken definitively in terms of spectators. We will be having a conference call with President [Thomas] Bach and I suspect that, that issue will be dealt with, but the decision has not been taken,” Samuda noted.
Come what may, the JOA boss assured that Jamaican athletes will be ready to answer the call when the Games begin.
“Certainly, the absence of the spectators, that ethos, that spiritedness of the Olympics will certainly affect persons. But what we are ensuring is that the psychologists are at work with our athletes to ensure, irrespective of the condition of the stage, whether it is spectator-filled or whether it is spectator-less, we must perform at the optimum,” Samuda asserted.
Samuda feels the pain of Jamaica’s track and field fans who long to return to watch live action at the stadium, but said he knows that they were now accepting of the inevitability of the current situation.
“Definitely, you know us here in Jamaica, we like the spirit of track and field, we like the environment, we like the excitement and therefore, it is a good return.
“I think that most persons are now settled in their view that they may not be able to watch it physically in the stadium, but certainly they are supportive of the team,” he said.
Samuda believes that the Jamaican spirit that drives the athletes to succeed and the mental toughness associated with the performances over the years will be on show yet again in Tokyo, Japan.
“As I indicated to my athletes of both Olympic, as well as Paralympic athletes, is that under any condition you must excel; that is the greatness of an athlete, that’s the dexterity of an athlete, that’s the resilience of an athlete.”
The return of track and field to the island has been greeted with great delight by fans both locally and abroad.