Record numbers expected for Pan Am
The Jamaica Olympic Association i s in the final stages of putting together what will be the largest contingent to participate at a Pan American Games for the country, president of the association Christopher Samuda told STAR Sports.
Samuda said that a record 17 disciplines have qualified for the games scheduled for Lima, Peru, between July 26 and August 11.
And as was the case when Jamaica fielded its largest team to take part in the Central American and Caribbean Games and the Commonwealth Games last year, Samuda expects to win a record number of medals.
"This will be the largest team ever for the Pan Am Games. In terms of the qualifications of the respective sports, we have more than have ever been before. We have 17 disciplines that have qualified.
I think the regional championships have a life of their own. They must not be looked at as second cousins to the Olympic Games," he said. "The CAC Games was our most successful to date and the Commonwealth Games too and we are hoping that the same will happen at the Pan American Games."
Last week, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) named a strong 60-member team, which includes Olympic gold medallists Elaine Thompson and Shelly -Ann Fraser- Pryce to participate in the games.
"Karate, gymnastics, judo and rugby are a few of the so-called non-traditional sports that have qualified and what we have been doing is giving options to our young people. Not everybody can run or play football and cricket and there are emerging sports that are equally as engaging as the traditional sports and offer not only a career in sports but also a career after sports. We have been encouraging our young people to get involved in those disciplines and there have been a measure of success," Samuda said.
"There is still a lot of work to be done because I would like to see those sports (non-traditional) taking their rightful place as track and field has done on the international scene. But it is a good start and our member associations have bought into our vision that we must excel in other disciplines so that Jamaica is not only known for its athletics prowess but as a sporting brand."
Samuda also notes that the Pan Am Games would be used as a dress rehearsal for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
"The Pan American Games is always a preparation for the Olympic Games, not only in terms of the psychology of the performance but also what you have to do as an athlete in order to prepare yourself and transition to the international stage. While we look at the games as games that have their own culture and their own success but they are also stepping stones to the Olympic Games," he said.
The team is expected to be officially released in the coming weeks.