Jamaica - Sport

Sport

Main article: Sport in Jamaica See also: Cricket in the West Indies and Athletics in Jamaica

Sport is an integral part of national life in Jamaica and the island's athletes tend to perform to a standard well above what might ordinarily be expected of such a small country. While the most popular local sport is cricket, on the international stage Jamaicans have tended to do particularly well at Track and Field.

The country was one the venues of 2007 Cricket World Cup and West Indies cricket team is one of the only 10 ICC full member teams who participate in international Test Cricket. The Jamaica national cricket team competes regionally, and also provides players for the West Indies. Sabina Park is the only test venue in the island, but the Greenfield Stadium (Trelawny) is also used for cricket. Chris Gayle is the most renowned batsman from Jamaica currently representing the West Indies cricket team. He is considered one of the most fearful and aggressive batsmen in world cricket now-a-days.

Since independence Jamaica has consistently produced world class athletes in track and field. In Jamaica involvement in athletics begins at a very young age and most high schools maintain rigorous athletics programs with their top athletes competing in national competitions (most notably the VMBS Girls and Boys Athletics Championships) and international meets (most notably the Penn Relays). In Jamaica it is not uncommon for young athletes to attain press coverage and national fame long before they arrive on the international athletics stage.

Over the past six decades Jamaica has produced dozens of world class sprinters including Olympic and World Champion Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.58s, and 200m for men at 19.19s. Other noteworthy Jamaican sprinters include Arthur Wint – the first Jamaican Olympic Gold Medalist, Donald Quarrie – Olympic Champion and former 200m world record holder, Roy Anthony Bridge, part of the International Olympic Committee, Merlene Ottey, Delloreen Ennis-London, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – the current World and Olympic 100m Champion, Kerron Stewart, Aleen Bailey, Juliet Cuthbert, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Yohan Blake, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden—Olympic Gold Medalist, Deon Hemmings – Olympic Gold Medalist as well as former 100m world record holder and 2x 100m Olympic finalist and Gold medal winner in the men's 2008 Olympic 4x100m Asafa Powell.

Jamaica has also produced several world class amateur and professional boxers including Trevor Berbick and Mike McCallum. First-generation Jamaican athletes have continued to make a significant impact on the sport internationally, especially in the United Kingdom where the list of top British boxers born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parents includes Lloyd Honeyghan, Chris Eubank, Audley Harrison, David Haye, Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno.

Association football and horse-racing are other popular sports in Jamaica. The national football team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

The Jamaica national bobsled team was once a serious contender in the Winter Olympics, beating many well-established teams. Chess and basketball are widely played in Jamaica and are supported by the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) and the Jamaica Basketball Federation (JBF), respectively. Netball is also very popular on the island, with the Jamaica national netball team called The Sunshine Girls consistently ranking in the top five in the world.

The Jamaica national rugby league team is made up of players who play in Jamaica, and UK-players from professional and semi professional teams in the UK. Their first international was a 37–22 loss to the United States national rugby league team in November 2009. Rugby league in Jamaica is growing with universities and high schools taking up the sport. The JRLA Championship is the main rugby league competition in the country. The Hurricanes Rugby League are a professional rugby league team who are hoping to compete in either the USA Rugby League or the AMNRL by 2013 during that time they will be training young players aged 14–19 who will be part of the Hurricanes RL Academy in the hope of developing into full-time professional players.

According to ESPN, the highest paid Jamaican professional athlete in 2011 was Justin Masterson, starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

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