Youngsters will deliver, says Watts
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:
Forty-one members of Jamaica's track and field team here in Rio de Janeiro will be competing at their first Olympic Games with at least 18 of those making their first senior international team.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association named its largest team ever to the Olympic Games with 59 athletes selected to represent the country in Rio.
Despite the youthful nature of the team, manager of the athletics team Ludlow Watts is expecting Jamaica's next generation of track and field stars to give a good account of themselves and continue the country's run of impressive showings at the Olympic Games.
"We spoke to them about the expectations and the fact that they will be collecting the baton from our heroes and they are expected to keep the tradition of success going," said Watts.
"They get the picture but we have to bear in mind that we have three female discus throwers and it's the first time we are having female discus throwers at the Olympics for instance. It is something that we will have to bear with them and remember that are young and so on, but they will do well."
"It's not that they can't get medals but it's their first time and we ought to be patient with them. We will encourage and motivate them and provide the environment for success," Watts added.
Jamaica does boast a number of high-profile first-time Olympians who come into the Games with significant international experience such as 200m World Championships silver medallist and double sprint contender here Elaine Thompson, world leading 100m hurdler Omar McLeod, quarter-milers Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson as well as Janieve Russell, the top Jamaican 400m hurdler this season and World Championships shot put bronze medal winner O'Dayne Richards all named to the team.
There are, however, others such as sprint hurdlers Deuce Carter and Megan Simmonds, sprinters Jevaughn Minzie and Sashalee Forbes, who have travelled to their first senior international championships.
The administrator is also counting on the experienced athletes to help the youngsters to settle into their new responsibility.
"We hope the team will do well and that the older people in the team will pull the younger and more inexperienced ones along and be a part of ensuring that they are fully aware of their role in continuing the success," said Watts.
Jamaica won 12 medals (4 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze) at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It is the country's most successful showing at an Olympic Games.