President of Skateboarding Jamaica Limited (SJL) Ryan Foster is optimistic about Jamaica’s chances to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games as this could serve as the much-needed boost to develop the sport across the island.
The Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, is scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 11, with Paris as its main host city and 16 other cities spread across metropolitan France and one in Tahiti — an island within the French overseas country and overseas collectivity of French Polynesia — as a subsite.
Foster said that Jamaica has representatives — Jafin Garvey, Andre Beverly, and Tafari Whitter — who will take part in a series of Olympic qualification tournaments that starts at the end of March and will run into next year.
“I think skateboarding is a natural fit for Jamaica because we are very good at expressing our talent in culinary arts, music, athletics, and so forth. I think it would be very big for Jamaica, and I think that if Jamaica is to qualify for the Olympic Games, not only will we be the first English-speaking Caribbean country to do so, but we will also be one of the smaller countries in the world to qualify for skateboarding,” Foster told the Jamaica Observer.
“I think we have a very good chance to qualify; I think these three gentlemen are very competitive as they have been on many skate tours, whether in Brazil or the USA, and they have done very well in terms of their performances.
“In fact, many of the judges were very surprised that Jamaica has skateboarders at this level with so much talent,” added Foster, who is also the Jamaica Olympic Association’s (JOA) general secretary and chief executive officer.
The skateboarding boss said that in terms of preparing the athletes, a number of competitions are in place leading up to the Olympic qualifiers.
“We are now putting our three athletes into what are called training camps leading up to the Olympic qualifiers, and so I think they are getting that international exposure and coaches that are world renowned in Los Angeles.”
“And we also have a number of competitions that are non-Olympic qualifiers but will get them ready in terms of being in a competitive state for Olympic qualifiers. I think whether or not we qualify for the Olympic games, it’s a statement for the Caribbean and Jamaica that we do have competitive athletes that are now in the top 100 in the world that are trying to vie for the Olympic games,” explained Foster.
Thomas Leydier, deputy head of mission at the French Embassy, said that Jamaica’s qualification for the Olympic Games will surely be a huge success.
“Can you imagine if you had one Jamaican athlete who liked showcasing and doing tricks? It would be so nice; it would be so great, and it would say a lot about the sport,” Leydier said.
“This will be the public space, as it will not be in a stadium or anything. So you will have Jamaicans watching the Olympic games with Jamaicans on the streets of Paris doing tricks, and I think it will definitely bring some interest in the sport.
“As for now, I think it is quite amusing for Jamaica to be in skateboarding. If you have one athlete, just even one, going to Paris, that would be very interesting for Jamaicans to see, and I guess many youngsters would want to try — and this will push the sport,” he added.
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