EBONY Drysdale-Daley made another historic strike for Jamaica in judo when she became the country’s first-ever competitor in the sport to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old Drysdale-Daley will mark the history-making occasion when she takes the floor for competition in the female 70kg category on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Drysdale-Daley’s qualification for Tokyo was confirmed yesterday when Szandra Szogedi, secretary general of the Jamaican Judo Association, informed the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the apex body for sport locally, saying “I am happy to inform you that Ebony Drysdale-Daley has made history for Jamaica and has qualified for the Olympic Games.”

The precise nature of Drysdale-Daley’s qualification remains unclear, but she competed in Pool A of the World Judo Championships Seniors Hungary 2021 at Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena, Budapest, Hungary, earlier this month, where she lost 0-10 to eventual gold medallist, Croatia’s Barbara Matic.

Reacting to the news the JOA said it was a proud and fulfilling moment, given the confidence expressed through their unwavering support for the sport and its athletes.

Christopher Samuda, president of the JOA which launched a campaign to have Jamaica represented in diversified disciplines in Tokyo, said: “Ebony’s triumph is a personal victory of courage, commitment, inspiration and faith and a nation’s pride, which the JOA embraces and is grateful to the Judo federation’s president, Dwayne Barrett and Secretary General Szandra Szogedi, who inspire excellence in athletes and coaches.

“As the sun rises in Japan, so will Ebony’s prospects in Tokyo, and I will watch with conviction that history is in the making,” added Samuda.

Ryan Foster, secretary general and CEO of the JOA, said it is a “marvelous feat”.

“I am pleased with the qualification of Ebony for the Tokyo Olympic Games in the sport of judo,” said Foster.

“We started a journey with the Jamaican Judo Association in 2018 when they were admitted as a member of the JOA for the first time. We bought into President Barrett [Dwayne] and Secretary General Szandra’s [Szogedi]) vision for the sport, and we stood by them from the start to ensure that their goals at all times aligned to the JOA. The JOA funded their Olympic campaign and the development of the sport in Jamaica and we now see the results of believing in our members’ dreams.”

Continuing, Foster said: “Being a new member and to now self-actualise by reaching the pinnacle of the Olympic Games is a marvelous feat. Our belief that Jamaica’s sport is much larger than a few sports is proof-tested by their accomplishments.”

The qualification in judo has increased the number of Jamaican sporting disciplines for the Tokyo Games to five, following on the heels of track and field, boxing, gymnastics, aquatics (diving) and swimming.

The 26-year-old Drysdale-Daley, who is based in Britain, first marked her name in Jamaica’s judo history books two years ago when she won gold at the Commonwealth Games Judo Championships, which was staged in Birmingham, United Kingdom, in September 2019.

Szogedi expressed “huge thanks” to the JOA for its commitment.

Szogedi said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for placing your trust in us, which went beyond just sport. You continued trusting us and allowed us to operate and provide avenues for us and our athletes wherever we were in the world, and we truly appreciate it. Also, a huge thanks for the financial support that was provided by the Jamaica Olympic Association throughout this Olympic cycle.”

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