Jamaica Observer / The fourth staging of the Jamaica International Badminton Championships will serve off today, with action continuing at the National Indoor Sports Centre. Over 80 players, of whom more than 40 are international, are expected to participate in the five-day tournament which, for the first time, will have a qualification round due to the large number of entries.

General secretary of the Jamaica Badminton Association, Antonio Bell was beside himself at the launch yesterday.

“With this year’s Jamaica International tournament I am more than excited. I am ecstatic at the number of entries, the quality of the players, the countries they are representing, and the level of play that our players are now exhibiting,” he said.

General manager of Sports Development Foundation Denzil Wilks lamented what he considered missed opportunities by way of sports tourism.

“The Sports Development Foundation is happy to be a part of this, (but) if we have 20 countries represented in this competition, it must be sports tourism. We are not getting it right… badminton is not ‘bigging up’ itself enough,” he remarked.

Wilks believes the benefits that accrue to the country because of tournaments such as these are not being properly measured, nor are they being taken full advantage of by the various stakeholders.

Canada’s Kevin Bartman and Antonio Lee, who will be participating for the first time, are excited about being a part of the tournament.

“It is my first time here in Jamaica and I am really excited to compete. There is a lot of really good competitors here and a really great venue, and I am really looking forward to it,” said Bartman.

For Lee, his expectations have been exceeded, even before raising his racket in competition.

“It is my first time here playing in Jamaica International and being here in Jamaica and I have got to say that it has definitely exceeded my expectations in everything, especially to the venue and the community,” he said.

The events that will be contested at the tournament are the men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles, and the mixed doubles. Catherine Wynter will lead the charge on the female side, while Dennis Coke will lead the charge on the male side for Jamaica.

Day one gets going at around 3:00 pm and it is free to attend for all five days.

— Dwayne Richards

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