It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 42nd renewal of the Gibson McCook Relays. We thank you for taking the time to join us and hope that together we can continue to improve on this product for the good of sport in particular and Jamaica in general.
Each year we have the pleasure of welcoming special guests to the GMR. This year it is our distinct pleasure to welcomethe President of the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Athletics Association, Professor Victor Lopez. It has been our fervent wish to have President Lopez with us ever since he took office in 2013. Since he took office he has consistently supported the GMR with an annual competition grant as well as his words of advice and encouragement. He has tried to join us each year but was unable to do so because of conflicts in his schedule. We are delighted that he could join us this year.
The Organizing Committee is extremely grateful to our sponsors who have remained loyal to us despite protracted difficult economic conditions. We assure you that we will take all steps to ensure that the quality of the product justifies your support and we welcome your feedback at all times. We make special mention of our major sponsors, presenting sponsor PUMA as well as Digicel and CVM who have entered into multi-year contracts with us, and look forward to the renewal of these when the time comes. We look forward to inking similar deals with our other major sponsors.
We recognize that the landscape for track and field athletics in Jamaica has changed significantly since 1973 and there are now many track meets prior to the Boys and Girls High Schools’
We thank Digicel for providing cash awards for the meet. The award of J$150,000.00 to the best single performance of the meet from any category as well as J$100,000.00 each to the best overall performing boys and girls schools is an important incentive which we hope will encourage participation. The GMROC has introduced another cash award this year through which any team which breaks a record in a Championship event will be awarded J$75,000.00.
We know that overseas participation always enhances the meet and we continue to try to attract competition from our regional neighbours. This year we look forward to welcome teams from St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Our efforts to attract teams from the USA have still not borne any fruit. No less a person than the IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe, has made it clear that track &field athletics must entertain and we agree. This year we had hoped to raise the level of excitement at the GMR2019 with the introduction of the mixed relays, a format which has become very popular in recent times. Alas, there were no entries in the 4x400m for Institutions where it was offered. This format, which was to be featured will be offered again next year.
This year the Howard Aris Memorial Lecture (HAML) features another GMR alumnus and Olympian Dr. Gregory Haughton who has excelled academically following his career. We congratulate Dr. Haughton on his advancement and trust that he will inspire today’s athletes to grant achievements beyond their athletics careers. The HAML also welcomes the Dean of the UWI Faculty of Sport, consulting orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and commentator.
We thank all stakeholders for their unstinting support an promise another unforgettable Gibson McCook Relays for 2019.