After over 90 years of non-participation, the stage has finally been set for Jamaica’s Deaf Athletes to compete at an international sporting event, thanks largely to the efforts of Deaf Sports Jamaica (DSJ) a voluntary group which was established some three years ago.
Of course, as in all things, the road to this point has not been easy, but in this the 50th anniversary since independence there is much to celebrate even as athletes; Navarro Richards, Jason Campbell, Ricardo Rowe and Gavin Hobbs prepare to leave for Toronto accompanied by DSJ President Kevin McDonald, Coach Lloyd Green and Chaperone Nelson Hobbs.
The WDAC organized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) will run from July 14- 21, 2012 on the grounds of the University of Toronto as will consist of a total of forty two track and field events.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the Chairman for the host committee, four times Deaf Olympian for Canada, Rohan Smith, is in fact of Jamaican origin.
Smith has for some time now been advocating the need for Deaf Athletes from his home country to become organized so as to establish their presence on the world stage.
For DSJ President, Kevin McDonald the struggles and many days and night of work has been worth it all as it is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
“As president of DSJ I knew our athletics have a long way to go with a lot of training is needed. We started late in March of this year, normal they took years in training to prepare and be ready for games like this,” he says.
McDonald knows that the building of any sensible and sustainable sports programme cannot be done overnight and that is why over the last 2 years DSJ has initiated the annual National Deaf Sports day held at Manchester High School each November which is used to identify all the local talent.
“We know it is our first ever opportunity to participate in any game like this. At this point we are not about breaking any records and to be on the top.
Our goal is to compete, gain the experiences and encourage young student/adults to participles in sports more and with this opportunity we could get the public to see us more and want to help us in whatever way is needed…A lot of games that are happening in hearing world are happening simultaneously in the Deaf communities such as, the Pan-American Deaf Games, World Deaf Athletics Championships, Deaf Olympic, World Deaf Football Championships, World Deaf Volleyball Championships and others..There is where we are trying to bring Jamaica” he says.
The DSJ President is quick to point out that partnership and support from not just individuals but also from the state as well as private sector is very critical to his organization.
“We have received funds for the WDAC from several companies such as SDF, Spanish hotel, half-moon, Key Insurance Company. SDF is our main sponsor… We got invitation to participle in the Deaf Pan-American Games which taking place in Brazil, our athletics was not ready plus we did not have enough funds… We are looking forward for the next one…After the WDAC, we will be working toward the Deaf Olympics which will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria from July 26 – August 4, 2013…
There is still a long way to go for Deaf Sports to achieve the goals of the wide Deaf community and Jamaica, so we have to rely on everyone such as the Deaf schools, Deaf communities, Deaf clubs, Sports associations, and from the society.” he says.
Navarro Richards is a member of the Kingston Deaf Club and is a sport enthusiast who has always dreamed of representing in some sporting activity. He now believes that this dream is a reality and hopes that he will represent his country with honour and commitment as his role model Asafa Powell has done in the past. Navarro will run the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay.
Jason Campbell is a member of the KnockPatrick Deaf Club based in Manchester and will participate in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Jason is a dedicated to his training regime and has a never say die attitude.
Ricardo Rowe is a member of the Kingston Deaf Club who will compete in 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Ricardo anticipates that he will reach the finals of both his individual events and from there anything will be possible.
Gavin Hobbs will be competing in the 200m and the 4x100m relay. The high stepping sprinter expects to get to the 200m finals
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