© Getty Images (representational photo)
Olivia Grange said Jamaica’s sterling performance has placed them in the centre stage in all eyes © Getty Images (representational photo)

Kingston (Jamaica): Sports Minister Olivia Grange says Jamaica has become the centre of international attention in track and field and believes the country will enter this summer’s Rio Olympics as the “team to beat”. Jamaica, led by World and Olympic champion Usain Bolt, have dominated the track and field aspect of recent Olympiads, and Grange said she expected this trend to continue at the August showpiece, reports CMC. “Jamaica’s sterling performance at the international level, whether Diamond League, Commonwealth Games, World Games, and the Olympics, has placed us in the centre stage in all eyes, not only on our athletes, but on our country as well,” Grange said here on Thursday.

“Jamaica is seen as the team to beat despite the relatively small population and limited resources.” All 12 of Jamaica’s medals at London 2012 came in track and field with a similar occurrence at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when their 11 medals also came in this discipline. And all eyes will be on Rio as Bolt, the reigning 100 and 200 metres champion, seeks an unprecedented clean sweep of the sprint double at a third straight Olympics.

He will be among several elite athletes expected to run at the upcoming National Championships, scheduled to run from June 30 to July 3. Chairman of the organising committee, Ludlow Watts, said he was expecting tough battles throughout the four-day meet. “The fact that Jamaica enjoys a supreme position in the world of track and field allows us to venture into this year’s championships with unlimited pride and confidence, especially at this in an Olympic year,” the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association official pointed out. “Fierce competition can be expected whenever and wherever our athletes line up, and that includes these national championships.”