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Ja looks to capitalise on sporting events

Jamaica, home of sprint king and queen Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and the inspirational bobsleigh team, has launched Jamaica Sport, an initiative to develop sports tourism and diversify the island's tourism offerings. Chaired by businessman and corporate executive, Chris Dehring, the committee has as its mandate to bring more sport-focused events to Jamaica, boost tourist arrivals and position the island as a major sporting destination.

"As a country, we are well known for our rich sporting legacy. The dominance of our athletes, including sprinters, cricketers, netballers, swimmers and footballers, has been tremendous, but it is this achievement in combination with the can-do attitude of our bobsledders that defines a sporting culture found only in Jamaica" said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica's director of tourism.

During 2015, a number of sporting events will be held in Jamaica, which all sports enthusiasts can experience. A sampling of events include:

  • JSP High Mountain Coffee 10K (January 26)

The annual race (Inaugurated 1983) staged by the Jamaica Standard Products Company Limited is one of the largest and most challenging yet popular road races in Jamaica. The event takes place in central Jamaica in the cool hills of Mandeville. Now in its 32nd year, the day begins with the 5K Run and 5K Walk designed for the fitness conscious individual, followed by the most, challenging yet exhilarating 10K Race, taking runners up to 1,200ft above sea level, where they experience some of Jamaica's freshest air and pristine beauty.

  • Pineapple Cup (February 6-15)

Starting just outside of Fort Lauderdale, this ocean-racing classic will take competitors on a challenging all-points-of-sail course, stretching the 811 nautical miles to Montego Bay. Established in 1961, the Pineapple Cup is one of the marquee offshore sailboat races in the world. At the finish, sailors will be treated to a week of cocktail parties, steel bands, limbo dancing, ending with a dinner and dance prize-giving ceremony on February 15.

  • Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival (February 16-February 22)

The Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival is a week-long mountain biking extravaganza that highlights Jamaica's unique, vibrant culture. Held annually, the Festival opens with a welcome and registration party on the evening of February 16 at John Crow's Tavern, located in the heart of Ocho Rios. The festival features the Jamaican Downhill, the XC National Championship and plenty of live entertainment to wrap up the activities.

  • Kingston City Run (March 13-15)

Kingston comes alive during the weekend 5K race/walk and half marathon. The Kingston City Run route highlights the city's historic sites and the festivities include a Health and Wellness Fair and After Party. Weekend packages are available for travelers to visit Kingston, enjoy the sights and night-time activities while also participating in the Run.

  • Jakes Off-Road Triathlon (April 18)

Jamaica's South Coast hideaway Jakes, is gearing up for its 20th triathlon on April 18. With a dedicated package, triathletes and supporters alike can sample the best of what the bohemian bolthole and its surrounding community can offer. Those seeking a fully integrated adventure can embark on A Fitness Trip in Rebel Terrain from April 16-20 with New York fitness guru Ross Anti, from the celebrated Equinox gym franchise.

  • Karl Hale Tennis Tour (April 21-26)

Recognised as the Caribbean's No. 1 tennis event, the Karl Hale Tennis Tour will host the second annual Jamaica Senior ITF Championships at Tryall in Montego Bay and the Liguanea Club in Kingston. Also included in the tour are ten hours of clinics and a Pro Charity Exhibition featuring Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli.

  • Jamaica International Invitational (May 9)

The Jamaica International Invitational, features some of the best international and local athletes at the National Stadium in Kingston. This annual track and field competition, first held in 2004, now forms part of the IAAF World Challenge Meetings.

  • South Coast Hook & Line Canoe Tournament (October 18-20)

The three-day competition is where local fishermen vie for prizes by catching the largest fish using only the traditional fishing method of a simple hook and line. No fancy yachts or first world equipment are seen at this grassroots event. The weekend also includes other events, such as a boat race, local talent show, fish fry and a community beach party.

  • Reggae Marathon (December 5)

The Reggae Marathon & Half Marathon is Jamaica's premier international marathon event. Seasoned marathoners, sports enthusiasts and novice racers converge in Negril for an exciting event characterised by good vibes and plenty of reggae. Included in the registration is the infamous World's Best Pasta Party, an all-you-can-eat feast with pasta dishes, traditional Jamaican cuisine, free beer and an open bar. 

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