Our track superstars, Shelly-AnnFraser Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson have more than made us proud. They sprinted to fame in a matter of weeks with three consecutive 1-2-3 wins, first at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, then the Oregon Prefontaine Classic Diamond League and now the Lausanne Diamond League in Switzerland.
Those three and other athletes sell brand Jamaica to a global audience each time they step on a track and stand on a podium to collect medals, especially after sensational winnings. But many of them cannot even afford to pay a coach, much more nutritionist or massage therapist. Some have multiple roles throughout their athletic career. For instance, shot putter Jermaine Thompson was his own coach and nutritionist until he had enough and called it quits.
Typically, athletes get their earnings from endorsements, showing up at track meets or winning a track meet prize. But many have to depend on a 9-5 to make ends meets. It is time that the country invests more in sports to help our brand ambassadors.
Coming out of the Tokyo Olympics, athlete compensation was a hot topic. How much do they get now? Not enough! And our athletes have been signing this chorus for years. It gets even worse. The poor compensation is not confined to one sport disciple. The Sunshine Girls and Reggae Boyz are crying out too. We should not let this fade until the issue is solved.
We give thanks to those who are helping our athletes who competed in the Tokyo Olympics, and the coaches of the Olympic Team. We believe the $40 million Olympic Rewards Programme is a step in the right direction. The Jamaica Olympic Association and its partners Supreme Ventures Limited and Mayberry Investments are contributing 5 million, 30 million and 6 million respectively to this initiative. Others who can afford to should get on board so we can build a professional sport development programme.