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JN Jamaica Invitational On A Very Fast Track

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The JN Jamaica Invitational Meet has been upgraded to World Challenge status, with a powerful contingent of world class athletes, and will be televised to a huge global audience from the National Stadium on May 7, 2011.

It did not start that way, says JAAA president, Howard Aris. “The initial impetus for the invitational games was the track and field Meet held in 1997 to celebrate the return of the national commemoration of Emancipation.”

International Amateur Athletic Foundation (IAAF) President Lamine Diack suggested the concept to the then Prime Minister, P. J Patterson, along with Minister of Local Government and Sport, Portia Simpson-Miller in 2002, Mr. Aris said.

Aris, along with JAAA Executive Donald Quarrie were brought into the discussions, and the result was the first Jamaica International Invitational Meet at the Stadium in 2004.

“It began as an unclassified invitational meet,” Mr. Aris said. That meant, it started as a regular track meet, before developing into an Area Permit Meet, falling under the IAAF regional organisation, the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association.

Elevation to Area Permit Meet (Qualifying) designation by the IAAF then followed. This designation enabled participating athletes to gain points for the higher level World Series athletics final.

“The Meet was offered the status of World Challenge Meet in 2010; and was designated as such in 2011,” the JAAA president said. That places the Meet directly under the jurisdiction of the IAAF.

This upgrade, which puts the JN Jamaica Invitational Meet just one level below the top ranked IAAF Diamond League status, has some key benefits. Mr. Aris said, because the meet is now, “more attractive than ever.”

One outcome of this attraction is that the JAAA is partnering with a global television broadcaster IEC in Sports AB, to enhance the visibility of the Meet internationally. Through the partnership this year, the event will reach an audience of more than 160 million households in 25 countries around the world.
Jamaica National Building Society (JN) became Title Sponsor for the event in 2010, helping to place the event on firmer financial ground. The JN is a three-year agreement that extends beyond the costs of the Meet itself, to include other activities to be staged by the JAAA.

The aim of JN is to lift the profile of the Meet to a level where international organisers and sponsors will support the staging of the event, said Mr. Leon Mitchell, JN Group Marketing and Promotions Executive said, “It has been highly rewarding to participate in the evolution of this world class Meet.”

This sponsorship agreement with JNBS is part of a deliberate plan to seek strategic alliances, Mr. Aris stated. The 2011 budget, with increased support from other corporate players, is twice the resources committed in 2010; and, lays the basis for enhanced sponsorship support.

The higher profile event also attracts more athletes, he pointed out. “We have been getting the best athletes in the world…and the result has been world class performances.”

Good athletes on their best form translates into a good audience turnout, Mr. Aris pointed out. At the 2010 JN Jamaica Invitational Meet, an audience of more than 25,000 turned out to see local athletes of international fame, such as Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell Brown; as well as Tyson Gay and Carmelita Jeter from the United States of America.

Ultimately, the success of the JN Jamaica Invitational Meet will be measured by a combined assessment of the quality of the athletes, their performances and, crowd support; as well as the quality of its organisation, Mr. Aris declared. “We are proud of what has been achieved to date.”

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