LIKE MANY sports on the island, surfing has seen its fair share of setbacks over the past two years due to the pandemic.
While some normality is slowly returning, the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA) has also begun its resurgence with the election of a new president and a new push to move the sport forward.
After JSA founding member Billy Wilmot decided to step down from his decades of leadership at the helm of the association, his son Inilek Wilmot defeated Luke Williams to become the JSA’s new president.
After just a month in office, Inilek is wasting no time getting the ball rolling by advancing his and the association’s mandate to take the nation to the Olympics in 2032.
The sport of surfing made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and the sport is also on the schedule for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.
With the setback of the pandemic, Wilmot remains realistic that the next two Olympics could be far-fetched. However, the third cycle could see the nation parading the black, green and gold flag on what will now be the sport‘s biggest stage.
“The highest level in the sport of surfing that we could have aspired to was the World Surfing Games and we have been there many times. Now we want to achieve the highest level of sporting competition and put Jamaica on the map,” said said Wilmot.
The inactivity has seen the national team drop out of the pecking order on the world stage. However, Wilmot is keen to bring the country’s ranking back to the teenage years it once was.
ESTABLISH THE FOUNDATION
“What I want to do is lay the foundation for our Olympic dream by getting more young people surfing and creating more local competitions. What this will allow us to do is send more teams to gain more experience and visibility on the international stage,” added Wilmot.
For Wilmot, these international competitions are fast approaching with the Pan American Surfing Games scheduled in Panama from August 7 to 13, then the World Surfing Games, from September 17 to 24, in Huntington Beach, California.
The association is expected to send a small men’s and women’s team to these games with surfers like Akeem Phillips, Javaun Brown, Elishama Beckord and Ronald Hastings expected to practice before the events. The women’s team is expected to include Zoe Bain, Aliyah Alkhateeb, Zuri Gordon and Imani Wilmot.