Following Olympic Track Success, Could Jamaica Expand to New Sports?

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Above: Jamaican equestrian competitor Samantha Albert

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Alia Atkinson came less than half a second short of a medal in London.

But while Jamaica’s track team took the Olympics by storm, Atkinson’s fourth-place finish in the Women’s 100-metre breastroke could prove just as important.

Following a gold medal haul on the track, Jamaica says it could be eyeing medals in new sports by diversifying the disciplines in which the country competes.

“We have proven that we can do it,” said Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley. “I think it’s going to be a matter of focus and programming. I believe that whatever we involve ourselves in, once there is focus and application, we should be able to do it.”

She pointed to Atkinson as an example.

“I think Alia Atkinson’s work at this Olympics should serve as a catalyst for us to go more in-depth in swimming,” she said.

Neita-Headley, who was speaking following her return to Kingston from London, was joined by a number of Jamaica’s Olympians, including sprinter Asafa Powell and discus thrower Travis Smikle.

While Jamaica’s 12 medals came on the track, its 50-member Olympic contingent did compete in sports including equestrian, swimming, taekwondo and discus, among others.

Jamaica has won a total of 67 medals since it began competing at the Olympics at London’s previous Olympics in 1948.

Of those medals, 66 have been won in track and field, with one, David Weller’s bronze, coming in cycling in 1980 in Moscow.

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