LIKE MANY of the island’s sports, surfing had its fair share of setbacks over the past couple of years due to the pandemic.
With some amount of normality slowly returning, the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA) has also begun its resurgence with the election of a new president and a new thrust to move the sport forward.
After JSA founding member Billy Wilmot decided to move on from his decades of leadership as the association head, his son Inilek Wilmot defeated Luke Williams to become the new JSA president.
After just one month in office, Inilek is wasting little time in getting the ball rolling in pushing forward his and the association’s mandate of getting the nation to the Olympics in 2032.
The sport of surfing made its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020 and the sport is also on the programmes for both Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.
With the setback from the pandemic, Wilmot is remaining realistic that the next two Olympic Games may be far-fetched. However, the third cycle could see the nation parading the black, green and gold flag on what will now be the biggest stage for the sport.
“The highest level in the sport of surfing that we could have aspired to go to was the World Surfing Games and we have been there several times. Now, we want to make it to the highest level of sports competition and put Jamaica on the map,” said Wilmot.
Inactivity has seen the national team drop down the pecking order on the world stage. However, Wilmot is keen to get the country’s rankings back into the teens where it once was.
SETTING THE FOUNDATION
“What I want to do is to lay the foundation for our Olympic dream by getting more youths surfing and getting more local competition. What that will allow us to do is to send more teams away to get more experience and exposure on the international stage,” added Wilmot.
For Wilmot, those international competitions are right around the corner with the Pan American Surfing Games slated for Panama from August 7-13 and then the World Surfing Games, September 17-24, in Huntington Beach, California.
The association is expected to send a small male and female team to those games with surfers the likes of Akeem Phillips, Javaun Brown, Elishama Beckord and Ronald Hastings expected to go into training ahead of the events. The female side should feature Zoe Bain, Aliyah Alkhateeb, Zuri Gordon and Imani Wilmot.