Rio Olympic squad as good as London's
Maurice Wilson, Jamaica's athletics technical leader to next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, said that this year's squad could be as good as the group that won four gold, four silver and four bronze medals in London four years ago.
Coach Wilson said the quality of the team is similar, and might even be of a higher standard. He believes that the aggregation headed for Rio could be one of the best ever from Jamaica.
Responding to a similar sentiment expressed on local television by sprinter Yohan Blake, Wilson said, "When you look at the breakdown, in terms of the quality of the athletes we have this year, it is, in my opinion, similar or even at a higher standard."
Wary of the competitive challenges that lie ahead, he added, "Irrespective of who we have, we have to perform during the course of the championships."
In a reference to athletes who applied for a medical exemption from the recent National Senior Championships, he said, "If we're able to recover adequately, this could be one of the best performances."
The athletics team has 41 Olympic newcomers but Wilson feels the group has a good blend of youth and experience.
"Once the athletes are in camp they become one big family and most of the senior athletes set examples and try to encourage the younger ones," he said.
The squad includes the likes of Veronica Campbell-Brown, who is heading for her fifth Olympics, and Asafa Powell and Novlene Williams-Mills, who will journey to Games for the fourth time.
"I think it's a great transition in the process," Wilson said at his last training session before heading to Rio.
"I'm happy for what I'm seeing."
Wilson and the local-based members of the team leave for Rio on July 22.