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Jamaica shift focus to Olympics
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Head coach of Jamaica's men's volleyball team, David Jack, says not qualifying for the third round of the FIVB NORCECA World Championships is a disappointment.
However, Jack noted it is not the end of the road as the team's ultimate focus is to qualify for an Olympics, be it 2012 or 2016.
Speaking at the conclusion of Jamaica's final game of the second-round qualifiers which were held at the National Indoor Sports Centre, Jack, who himself is a former national player and captain, said all that is needed at this time is for the team to keep working hard as there is enough talent available.
"It is a setback in not qualifying. But in no way has it affected our ultimate goal, which is to one day reach the Olympics," said Jack, whose charges finished third at the qualifiers after defeating the Cayman Islands 3-1 on Sunday.
Regional giants Mexico and The Bahamas, who finished first and second, respectively, will move on to the third round of the qualifiers.
"Our short-term goal is 2012 and our long-term goal is 2016. The goals may be lofty, but not unattainable, as we have a talented group of players who are mostly under 30, which is a great platform.
"The average age of most players who participate in the Olympics are in their mid- to late 30s, as in a sport like volleyball experience counts and by the time those qualifiers come around, we should be in much better shape.
"We also have a talented batch of youngsters who, should they get the necessary exposure, could make an impact and with more overseas players to add, anything is possible," added Jack, an eight-time all-American US Open Championships player.
Jamaica, who were favoured to advance to the next round along with the Mexicans, defeated Haiti in their first match, but lost 3-1 against The Bahamas in their deciding match of the qualifiers.
After taking the first set 25-19, Jamaica surrendered the next three sets 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 on Saturday, much to the disappointment of home spectators.
Led by good all-round efforts from Dellan Brown, Mark Lewis, Conaradio Taylor, Danny Wilson and Ricardo Chong, the Jamaicans rallied the following day to defeat Cayman 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25-18), a feat which Jack explained has its benefits.
"I must give credit to the players as after the disappointment of losing to The Bahamas and not advancing to the finals, they could have come out and played flat. But they didn't. They came out and played with a lot of fight and determination and at a high level.
"We lost out on advancing to the next round of the qualifiers, but in finishing third have put ourselves in a position to be invited to either the Pan-Am Games or CAC Games.
"Our next mission is the Caribbean Games in July, where while the value of the tournament is lower than the World Championships qualifiers, the level of competition is higher with teams like Cuba and Puerto Rico participating."