The JN Jamaica Invitational Meet, to be held at the National Stadium on May 7, 2011, is now of even greater importance on the calendars of sporting enthusiasts in Jamaica and internationally, says Earl Jarrett, General Manager of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS). He was speaking at the launch of the 2011 Meet at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel last Thursday (April 14).
The Invitational Meet started in 2004 as a regional competition, and was upgraded to World Challenge status after last year’s event, which is just below the Diamond League level in the International Amateur Athletic Foundation (IAAF) rankings. The result is a competition which will be even more compelling for athletes and audiences.
“2010 was the most successful staging of this athletic Meet,” Mr. Jarrett said. “More than 25,000 fans were in the National Stadium to witness the display of athletic talent described by one publication as a ‘Spectator’s Dream.’”
He noted that this success occurred in the first year of a three-year partnership agreement with the JAAA, and said it reaffirmed that the decision to become title sponsor of the athletic Meet, was a good one.
“The focus this year is to make the Meet bigger and better,” Mr. Jarrett stated. “Through the joint efforts of the sponsoring partners and official organisers of the Meet, we intend to make the event so attractive and competitive that every local and international athlete would welcome an invitation to participate.”
Major Desmond Brown, General Manager of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture, the Hon. Olivia Grange, said the evolution of the JN Jamaica Invitational Meet from a regular track meet demonstrated the expertise which now exists in Jamaica. He saluted the volunteers, coaches, officials and marshals who continue to give of their expertise and time in track and field.
Major Brown thanked Jamaica National and the other corporate sponsors supporting the event; and said, “We believe you are investing in Jamaica’s future.”
The JN Jamaica Invitational Meet will benefit from worldwide exposure through a global broadcast of the event. Television Jamaica (TVJ) will provide full coverage locally; and, on the international circuit, IEC…a media firm with television rights globally…will broadcast the Meet, to an expected maximum capacity crowd, in more than 25 countries, with an estimated viewership of 160 million households.
JAAA President, Howard Aris said, “In addition to the television broadcast, the Meet will be video streamed on our website…which is being upgraded to accommodate the webcast.” This is part of the Association’s thrust to keep abreast of the latest developments in the communications world he said.
Mr. Aris thanked Jamaica National for its support and said he looked forward to the 2012 Olympics in London, “which is only part of the journey that we are going to take.”
What the television and internet viewers, as well as the audience at the National Stadium will see is some of the world’s finest athletic talent, JAAA Executive Donald Quarrie, said as he announced the athletes who have accepted the invitation to participate, to date.
Sprinter Veronica Campbell Brown has been entered for both the 100m and 200m, but will run in only one of them, Mr. Quarrie said.. She will be accompanied by Kerron Stewart (100m); Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce (200m); Sherone Simpson (100m); Novlene Williams-Mills (400m); Shericka Williams (200m); Sanya Spencer (400m); Kenia Sinclair (400m) and Melaine Walker (400m hurdles) on the local side.
On the men’s side, Asafa Powell (200m) will be joined by Yohan Blake (100m); Nesta Carter (200m); Jermaine Gonzales (400m); Ricardo Chambers (400m); Michael Frater (100m) and Dwight Thomas (110m hurdles).
On the international women’s side, those down to compete are Carmelita Jeter (100m); Sanya Richards (400m); Christine Ohuruogu (400m); Kelly Ann Baptiste (100m); Bianca Knight (200m); Debbie Ferguson (200m); Marshevet Myers (100m); and Natasha Hastings (400m).
Wallace Spearmon (200m) will be joined by Kerron Clement (400m hurdles); Daniel Bailey (100m); Darvis Patton (100m); Ryan Brathwaite (110m hurdles); Antwon Hicks (110m hurdles); Terrence Trammell (110m hurdles) and Peter Van Der Wasthuizen (1500m) among the men.
“This year’s meet will be a lot more competitive,” Mr. Quarrie affirmed.
Mr. Leon Mitchell, JN Group Marketing and Promotions Executive, who chaired the function, said that in terms of the track and the facilities at the stadium, “we have been assured that they continue to meet international standards; and we will certainly ensure that both athletes and fans have the best context in which they can enjoy an evening of World Class athletics.”
The JN Jamaica Invitational Meet will be an integral part of the preparation for the 2012 Olympics, Mr. Mitchell stated. “We can easily consider the next twelve to fifteen months being the Track and Field year, as our athletes, coaches and officials, as well as the Jamaica Olympic Association, prepare for the 2012 Olympics.”