In what has been described as a historic partnership, the Jamaica Paralympic Association and the Jamaica Surfing Federation have joined forces to help para-athletes make the transition to surfing with the hope that the island will be able to qualify surfers to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
And, so far things seem to be going well. Two para-athletes, Nathaniel Bailey and Toto Campbell, are in California competing at the 2021 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championship, and demonstrating that despite only taking up the sport less than two months ago, that they possess natural talent as both have qualified for the second round of the competition.
“History has been made through a dynamic partnership of two sporting associations that are both committed to developing talent, encouraging excellence and making more capable those who society perceive to have challenges,” said proud JOA President Christopher Samuda.
During the past three years, the Jamaica Paralympic Association has been aggressively engaging with several ‘non-traditional sports’ while pursuing its policy of “creating opportunities and building capacity.”
Having successfully already helped propel para-taekwondo and para-judo to the pinnacle of para-sports – the Paralympic Games – President Samuda is optimistic about the future.
“Our model is self-motivating and self-inspiring but we believe strongly in solid partnerships that will drive success and thanks to Billy Wilmot, President of the Jamaica Surfing Federation, and Icah Wilmot, a regional household name in the sport, we are transitioning talented surfers who hopefully will attain the coveted distinction of becoming Paralympians in Paris,” he said.
With that in mind, early next year, the Jamaica Paralympic Association will be launching its campaign dubbed “Go for Paris” aimed at achieving qualification and to be competitive in at least five sports at the games in the French capital.