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Joyner-Kersee to be star attraction

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Showing off the hardware: Joyner-Kersee, one of the all-time greatest women’s heptathletes, will be the special guest at next month’s 80th anniversary celebrations of Bermuda’s participation at the Olympic Games

Jackie Joyner-Kersee will be the special guest when the Bermuda Olympic Association celebrates the 80th anniversary of the island’s participation in the Olympic Games next month.

Joyner-Kersee, who won three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in the long jump and heptathlon for the United States at the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.

The event will be held on Saturday, October 15 and begin with the unveiling of an Olympic Wall on the grounds of City Hall.

Joyner-Kersee, 54, will lead a training session at the National Stadium for about 100 young athletes, with invitations extended to all local track clubs and schools.

“We are grateful to the Bermuda National Athletics Association for its assistance in the organisation of the workshop/training activity which should prove to be an invaluable learning experience and great fun for the young participants,” said Robert Horton, the chairman of the 80th anniversary committee that also includes Charlotte Simons, Myra Dill, and Judy Simons, the president of the Bermuda Olympic Association.

Horton revealed that the anniversary committee had top sprinter Usain Bolt, who competed in Bermuda in the 2004 Carifta Games before becoming the world’s fastest man, on their list of possible guests but he was not available.

“We would love to have Bolt here but at the time of planning this he was immersed in preparation for the Olympic Games, preparing for the three gold medals, and could not make the commitment,” Horton said. “So we looked around and felt Mrs Joyner-Kersee was an outstanding person to feature, very inspiring.”

The day of celebrations will culminate with the gala anniversary banquet at Fairmont Southampton at 7.30pm when Joyner-Kersee will be the guest speaker.

It will feature a video greeting from Thomas Bach, the IOC president, and footage of Joyner-Kersee’s participation in the Olympic Games.

The Acting Governor, Premier and the Sylvan Richards, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sports will be in attendance at the banquet, along with Bermudian Olympians, other local politicians, leaders and other representatives of various sporting organisations in Bermuda. There will also be representation from the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees.

Tickets for the banquet will be $150 each for adults and $75 for children.

“The BOA is especially pleased that great Olympian Mrs Jackie Joyner-Kersee will grace Bermuda with her presence, making the 80th anniversary celebrations an occasion to remember,” Horton said.

“The BOA looks forward to the participation of as many of our Olympians as possible and expresses its gratitude to the many sponsors whose contributions will ensure the success of the anniversary celebrations.”

The IOC approval for the formation of the Bermuda Olympic Committee was received on February 13, 1936 and an invitation to take part in the eleventh Olympiad in Berlin was received shortly after.

Six swimmers represented Bermuda in that Games and in the subsequent years some 170 individuals, including the eight at last month’s Olympics in Rio, have represented the island in the Games.

Bermudian athletes have participated in the Olympics in athletics, boxing, cycling, diving, equestrian, rowing, sailing, swimming, tennis and triathlon.

They also participated in luge, skeleton and skiing during the Winter Olympics from 1992 to 2010.

The Olympic Wall, featuring the names of each athlete, will be on the grounds of the City Hall, although that location will not necessarily be permanent, Horton said.

The eventual location for the wall is likely to be the National Sports Centre.

“There were two areas that the executives considered very closely, the National Sports Centre for obvious reasons and City Hall because of its central Hamilton location,” Horton said.

“However, the executives agreed that the City Hall location will maximise opportunities for the members of the public to visit the wall.

“It will be beautifully landscaped in front of City Hall, to the left.

“However, it may not necessarily be a permanent location because we recognise that the National Sports Centre is still under development and at some future date the wall may be relocated to the NSC.”

The wall will have a fortified concrete base with six standing granite tablets of varying heights which will be engraved with the names of all of Bermuda’s Olympians.

“The wall will be a permanent tribute to those who have had the privilege of competing and participating in the Olympic Games and it is hoped will serve as an inspiration to future generations of Bermudian Olympians,” Horton added.

Photograph by Lawrence Trott)Occasion to remember: Simons, the BOA president, and Horton, the chairman of the 80th anniversary committee, announce plans for the celebrations at the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation