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GraceKennedy expresses delight with Champs 2007

Posted by Dresonic on April 2, 2007

DEPUTY CEO of GraceKennedy, Don Wehby, has told the Observer that the corporate giants were extremely pleased with this the first of their three-year sponsorship of the annual ISSA Boys’ & Girls’ Athletic Championships which wrapped up at the National Stadium on Saturday.

In January, GraceKennedy announced they would be coming on as title sponsors of the high school championships in a deal worth J$42M representing $14m per year for the next three years. The announcement came just days after long-time sponsors VMBS, who sponsored the event since 1992, announced they were pulling out.

Speaking to the Observer from Trinidad yesterday, Wehby said things went well for GraceKennedy in their first year as title sponsors.

“I would say that we are very pleased, obviously it’s a learning experience, but we are pleased that there were a number of fantastic performances that we saw in our first year of sponsorship,” he said.

Wehby said the company was impressed with the performance of a number of athletes over the four-day meet and highlighted the performance of St Jago’s Yohan Blake, who smashed the Class One boys’ 100m record in winning one of four gold medals at the championships.

In addition to the 100m gold, Blake, who was named champion boy, also won gold medals in the 200m, and was part of St Jago’s winning Class One 4x100m and 4x400m boys’ open relay teams.

“Blake really stands out with his 10.21(100m),” Wehby told the Observer.

He added that the benefits to GraceKennedy were not necessarily financial, but that the company’s sponsorship was part of a bigger picture.

“It’s very difficult to measure profitability in a marketing effort… we’re not only doing it for a profit, but we’re doing it as a national service to Jamaica because we see track and field and supporting the youth of the country as an important part of GraceKennedy’s strategy,” he said.

There was a demonstration outside the National Stadium on Friday afternoon after a horde of school children protested the cost of entry into the venue.

Tickets for children in uniform were $500 on Friday, an increase of $150 from last year. Ticket prices were lowered following the protest on Friday.

Wehby said he had not heard of the protests until informed by the Observer, but that it was something worth reviewing.
“I must admit nobody reported that to me, but we have already put together a team which would include officials from ISSA which would do a post-evaluation of our sponsorship… how we can improve, the whole issue of ticket pricing would be discussed, but I am not displeased at all,” he told the Observer. “Next year we will sit down with ISSA and try to come up with a solution,” he added.

Wehby said the post-champs review would be done by the end of April and concluded that he hoped that out of this year’s event Jamaica could produce world beaters and world record holders.

“Hopefully, we’ll get another Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson,” he said.

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