“We could never pay you”

Hol­ness thanks ath­letes for build­ing Brand Ja­maica

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Shayne Fair­man Gleaner Writer

PRIME MIN­IS­TER An­drew Hol­ness, in­di­cated that the Gov­ern­ment in­tends to build a last­ing legacy and sym­bol of the Ja­maican sport­ing heroes, while salut­ing the Rio 2016 Olympians and Par­a­lympians dur­ing Satur­day night’s sym­bolic func­tion in their hon­our.

The event, which was held at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre on Satur­day night, was part of a three-day Heroes’ week­end cel­e­bra­tion or­gan­ised by the Min­istry of Cul­ture, Gen­der Af­fairs, En­ter­tain­ment and Sport.

The colour­ful and en­ter­tain­ing evening saw a mod­est, but very vo­cal crowd in at­ten­dance.

“Tonight be­longs to the ath­letes. They made us gather as one peo­ple, with one mis­sion in Half­Way Tree, as one peo­ple. They kept you on the edge of your couch, will­ing them, on, thou­sands of miles away through your television, for them to win,” the prime min­is­ter said in his re­marks.

“You shared in the thrill of their vic­tory. And yes, we were sad when they didn’t win, but we willed them on any­way be­cause their vic­tory is our vic­tory,” added Hol­ness to loud ap­plause.

“So don’t ask what we are giving to our ath­letes, which should never be ques­tioned, be­cause my an­swer is we haven’t done enough. SYM­BOLIC

“What we are do­ing here is just sym­bolic to show that we care about you, our ath­letes, be­cause you bring pride to our na­tion. You make Ja­maica’s name fly high in the world, and we could never pay you for what you have done in build­ing Brand Ja­maica,” the Prime Min­is­ter stressed.

“So on be­half of a grate­ful na­tion, on be­half of all Ja­maican peo­ple here and in the di­as­pora I stand here on this stage to say ‘thank you’.”

He added: “I have di­rected the min­is­ter of

sport, min­is­ter of tourism to de­velop a con­cept and come to the na­tion be­cause the na­tion has to have par­tic­i­pa­tion in any­thing that we do to rep­re­sent the legacy of our ath­letes.”

There was a size­able del­e­ga­tion of ath­letes in at­ten­dance, from sprint le­gend Usain Bolt, to Rac­ers club­mate Yo­han Blake, then Asafa Pow­ell, who re­ceived the big­gest cheers on the men side.

On the fe­male side, sprint su­per­stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thomp­son, and Veron­ica Camp­bell-Brown were given vo­ra­cious cheers of ap­proval.

Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, whose min­istry hosted the show, gave tributes to the Olympians, Par­a­lympians, and na­tional chess team, which also com­peted in Europe dur­ing the sum­mer at the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azer­bai­jan.

FORE­RUN­NERS

Draw­ing on the pop­u­lar Ja­maican phrase ‘wi likkle but wi tallawah,’ Grange said, “Your suc­cess over the years con­tin­ues to ex­cite and as­tound the world. I must take this op­por­tu­nity to once more ac­knowl­edge the fore­run­ners who set the stage and built the foun­da­tion for those of you who are with us to­day.

“The achieve­ment of our ath­letes at the Rio Olympics and Par­a­lympic Games is no small feat, and this in spite of our size and our pop­u­la­tion and limited fi­nan­cial re­sources,” Grange ob­served.

Over11,000 ath­letes com­peted at the Rio Games, with Ja­maica’s 57 ath­letes fin­ish­ing 16th of 209 coun­tries and third in track and field be­hind the United States and Kenya.

There were 36 first-time ath­letes on the team, which won six gold, three sil­ver, and two bronze medals. Most of the na­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives were given spe­cial awards.

On be­half of Ja­maica Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion, Vish­wanath Tolan, who served as chef de mis­sion, com­mended “the per­for­mance of all the ath­letes who have sac­ri­ficed their time, money and ef­forts”, while thank­ing their coaches and of­fi­cials.

Shot put­ter Odayne Richards, who was co-cap­tain of the Rio team, de­liv­ered the vote of thanks.

“On be­half of the Olympic team, Olym­pains, I would like to say thank you. We re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it and we look to 2017 for more ex­ploits,” said Richards.

DARIEN ROBERT­SON/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness (cen­tre) makes a pre­sen­ta­tion to sprint le­gend Usain Bolt, while Sports Min­is­ter Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange looks on, dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion for the na­tion’s ath­letes who par­tic­i­pated at the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games inn Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last sum­mer. The func­tion was held at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre on Satur­day night.

PHOTOS BY DARIEN ROBERT­SON/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Vice-cap­tain of Ja­maica’s track and field team to the Rio Olympics, O’Dayne Richards (right), speaks with Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness, while team of­fi­cial Lud­low Watts (cen­tre) looks on.

Sprint queen Elaine Thomp­son, the women’s 100 and 200m gold medal­list and 4x200m sil­ver medal win­ner, dis­plays her Rio Sports Am­bas­sadors plaque that she re­ceived dur­ing Satur­day night’s func­tion hosted by the gov­ern­ment to recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion of the na­tion’s ath­letes at the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event was hosted by the Min­istry of Cul­ture, Gen­der Af­fairs, En­ter­tain­ment and Sport at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre.

Speed­sters Asafa Pow­ell and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce slow down for the cam­eras.

Reg­gae Samba Girls join up with mem­bers of the World Reg­gae Dancers while per­form­ing at the Rio cel­e­bra­tion for ath­letes at the Na­tional In­door Sports Cen­tre on Satur­day night.

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