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Birmingham citizens donate to nurture Jamaican athletes

ATHLETIC DONATION: (From left) Steve Hollingworth, Beverly Lindsay and Dr Warren Blake in Birmingham

THE STRONG bond between Birmingham and Jamaica has been further cemented by a £10,000 donation from residents in the UK city to help nurture the development of young athletes in Jamaica.

During the London 2012 Games, Birmingham basked in Jamaica’s Olympic glory when the city was praised by sprint stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir seconds after their 200m gold, silver and bronze win.

Millions worldwide watched as the trio “bigged up” Birmingham following their pre-Olympic training camp stay at the University of Birmingham.

Their 11-day visit ended with a Jamaica 50 Cultural Extravaganza and Salute to the Jamaican Olympic Team at Birmingham’s prestigious Symphony Hall two days before the Olympic opening ceremony.

Organisers of this event - the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK in partnership with Birmingham City Council - have donated the £10,000.

Dr Warren Blake, president of the Jamaican Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA), collected the cheque on his was back to Jamaica from the Moscow Games via a whistle-stop visit to the UK.

Dr Blake, who saw the Jamaican track and field team scoop six gold, two silver and one bronze medal in Moscow, taking them to third place in the medals table, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the generous people of Birmingham for this wonderful gesture.

“We intend to identify something specific for this donation to be used for the benefit of our up and coming athletes.”

Beverly Lindsay, who chairs the AJN in Birmingham, said: “I am very pleased that we were able to fulfil our promise of creating a Jamaica 50th Anniversary legacy programme to benefit young athletes in Jamaica.”

Steve Hollingworth, Birmingham City Council’s assistant director of sport and events, added: “I’m delighted that we had the chance to welcome the Jamaican track and field team to Birmingham last year and that, in turn, the community came out to support the athletes at the Cultural Extravaganza. It further cements the strong relationship between Jamaica and Birmingham.”

Dr Blake said he hoped more Jamaican athletes would take part in future Diamond League athletics events in Birmingham.

He also praised Dr Francois-Xavier Li, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, for his invaluable work with the Jamaican team, and particularly Hansle Parchment, the Olympic bonze medal hurdler.

Dr Blake said Li was lending his expertise to help set up a motion analysis lab at the University of the West Indies in Kingston.

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