Jamaican athletes celebrate Independence in China

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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They may be based in the far-flung East Asian nation of China as part of the Jamaica/China Exchange programme, but members of the Jamaican delegation across three of the seven sporting disciplines were not about to miss out on the country's Independence Day celebrations.

While Jamaicans at home were preparing to celebrate the country's 56th year of Independence on Saturday and Sunday, members of the volleyball, basketball and swimming teams based in Kunming City were in full celebration mode with their Chinese host.

Because of the 13-hour difference between the two countries, the celebrations were moved forward to avoid the athletes missing out a training day.

Ambassador of the delegations Taylor Roberts got the celebration under way with an address on behalf of the Minister of Culture, Gender, Sports and Entertainment Olivia Grange, in a well decorated hall courtesy of the swimming members.

The swimmers then delivered their rendition of the National Pledge, I Pledge My Heart Forever, followed by Saidah Brown's rendition of Bob Marley's Redemption Song and basketball team manager Natasha Billings with a recitation Miss Lou style.

Invited swimmers from Madagascar were also on hand to share in the Jamaican pride.

It may have been short-lived but it was a well deserved break for the teams as they have been undergoing training twice per day, six days per week in their quest for improvements in their various disciplines under the Jamaica/China Technical Assistance in Sport Coaching.

Strength training is also a major part of the training regime for all disciplines which results in some athletes having gym sessions daily to garner the strength needed to excel at the levels desired by the Chinese.

Swimming coach Rory Alvaranga welcomed this aspect of the training programme.

“The federation will have to look more seriously at developing a strength training programme for the national level swimmers as this is something overseas-based swimmers are involved in and both here and at the recent PanAm/UANA camp, strength training is a big part of the programme.

“Here in China we visit the gym two to three times a week as the coach had identified areas that need strengthening. Some of the swimmers are only now learning the safe and proper movements in the gym while those exposed can attempt different loads from experience,” Alvaranga reasoned.

Basketball player Keila Henry of G C Foster echoed similar sentiments.

“In my view the strength training has helped a lot, especially those that are new to the gym aspect. Even their exposure to elements of track training and other areas of conditioning is a big plus for their strength and holistic development,” she opined.

It is argued that misinformation; controversy and misunderstanding have kept more than a few young bodies out of the weight room and away from strength training programmes.

But according to Alvaranga the perspective that kept young athletes out of the gym has started to change in recent times.

“There has been a growing realisation that with proper programming and supervision, strength training cannot only act as a mode of fitness for kids, but also as an effective tool to develop better coordination, athleticism, and health,” Alvaranga stated.

“The current Chinese programme is teaching us that it is a part of their sporting success in developing the whole athlete. With time we can look for these athletes to climb the rank in their various sports and represent the black, green and gold exceptionally well in regional and international tournaments,” he ended.

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