he Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) contingent is all primed and ready for the journey to the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria, according to head of delegation Glendon West.
He said 18 athletes and five management officials recently received Schengen visa approval from the Embassy of Spain. The Schengen visa allows entry into several European Union countries including Austria.
Previously, those without United States visas were also granted access for transiting through that country en route to Games.
“We are ready; athletes already have United States’ visas and visas needed to enter Austria. Everything is really in place in terms of the big-item things such as airfare and accommodation,” the SOJ head of delegation told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Ahead of the competitive action, the Jamaica delegation will be exposed to culture and sights at the host town in Tulln, situated approximately three hours drive from the capital Vienna.
While the opening ceremony is to be held in Schladming, the Jamaicans, who will compete in speed skating and floor hockey, will be based in Graz. The city of Graz is also set to host the closing ceremony.
Close to 3,000 athletes from scores of countries are set to feature at the Games. Other sporting attractions will include skiing, skating, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Jamaica’s athletes, backed by main sponsor digicel Foundation, have been preparing for the Winter Games since 2015.
“In terms of training, all the athletes are in shape mentally and physically and they are looking towards the Games.
“The floor hockey team did all their training at the SOJ multi-purpose court, so there’ll have to be adjustment because of the expected faster surface in Austria and the presence of side boards at that venue. When we arrive there we will want to get some training so we can get used to that,” West, who visited Austria on a four-day trip last year for meetings and site visits for heads of delegation, explained.
“The speed skaters had most of their training here on concrete or on asphalt. Then they spent one week in Florida practising on an ice rink. We’ll also want to see how much training we can put in for the speed skaters when we get there,” he told the
Reports are that the two speed skaters — Romaine Austin from St Catherine and Dave Oddman from Kingston — impressed trainers at the Panthers ice skating rink in Coral Springs, Florida, during that one-week camp.
The Jamaica delegation was a historic achiever at the previous Winter Games in 2013 in the Republic of Korea. The team from the tropical island won silver medals in two ice figure skating categories to go with a second-place finish in floor hockey.
Special Olympics empowers people with intellectual disabilities by promoting acceptance for all and fostering communities of understanding and respect across the world.
The programme aims to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people with intellectual disabilities.
The intellectual disabilities can either be acquired or genetic, and can include cases of Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injury. Read More: jamaicaobserver