A sample of the range of yam products produced by Asemota and her team.

Photo by Shorná Thompson

UWI researchers helping to transform Jamaica’s sporting industry

BY THE TIME the final leg of a two-day symposium titled, “Athletics Meets Science: Jamaica’s Pursuit of Greatness” ends later today in London, the team of presenters from The UWI, Mona would have set the record straight on the direction Jamaica’s sporting industry ought to be headed.
The UWI, Mona’s Dr Rachael Irving, Professor Helen Asemota, and Dr Christopher Malcolm are among a group of presenters exploring Jamaica’s continued dominance on the track at the symposium now under way at the University of East London, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, Stratford.
The event is produced by We Are Parable, and supported by The Centre for Global Affairs, The UWI.
Since Saturday, participants have sat in on discussions as wide ranging as the power of psychological mind games, to the prevention of injuries and maintaining the health of elite athletes.

Today, Dr Irving, Senior Research Fellow and author of Jamaica Gold - Jamaican Sprinters, is scheduled to address the topic, “Sensory and Biometric Analyses: Study of Jamaican athletes selected for World Championships 2017”.

Asemota, Professor of Biochemistry, will also present today on the topic, “Yams: Natural steroids or myths?”

Malcolm, Deputy Dean, External Affairs and Director, Mona Law Institutes Unit Faculty of Law University of the West Indies, will address the topic, “Securing the after competition Sport: Leveraging Law and Legal Arrangement for Economic Stability and Sustainability”.
For Irving, Asemota and Malcom, the symposium is a first step towards helping Jamaica, its athletes and other interests understand and grasp opportunities afforded by the country’s dominance on the track.
“We are trying to capture all the benefits we did not in 2008, 2012 and 2016 from Bolt’s dominance in sprint,” said Irving. In this regard, Irving and her team are working on a number of projects aimed at capitalising on these gains ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The projects are still being finalised, but have the potential to earn foreign exchange for Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Asemota, the Executive Director of the Biotechnology Centre, The UWI, Mona, and leader of The UWI Yam Biotechnology Research Group, welcomed the timeliness of the symposium. “This is an opportunity to showcase our range of bio-sports products and our yam research,” she said. Asemota and her research students will display a range of yam products in London, and Irving is hoping that there will be a buy-in from the diaspora.
“We are promoting yam as a medicinal, natural food that we can earn from,” said Irving.
For his part, Malcolm underscored the need for athletes, coaches, lawyers and other interests to carefully scrutinise contracts before signing off on them.
“Given that the law is pervasive and central to every arrangement that the athlete will enter, this component of the conference will speak to how the athlete corporation should best engage with the law and implement law-based measures that will enable the securing of protection and ongoing commercial viability,” he said.

The two-day event also featured a photo exhibition, highlighting some of the key moments in Jamaica’s athletic history.

Participants were also treated to a free screening of 2016 documentary of “I am Bolt.”

The event is being held at a time when athletes from all over the world are gathering in London for the staging of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.