BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 21, 2021– Born to Belizean parents in Germany, and raised for most of his life in the U.S., two-time Olympian Jayson Jones is nearing the end of a week-long holiday in Belize, something he has never before had the luxury to do during his busy education, training and later work schedule in Miami, Florida where he presently resides. In 1971, his Belizean born parents, Lionel and Shereda Jones nee Barrow had left the USA for Germany, where enlisted U.S. Army sergeant Lionel was deployed for some years, and that is where Jayson was born in 1977. Lionel’s army career saw his family moving with him to different countries in Europe and the far East before returning to the U.S.; and now that he is retired, he and his wife have taken up residence in the Lake Garden area of Ladyville, where their last child and only son Jayson has joined them for the past week.
I got to meet Jayson on his visit to Belize City this afternoon through the efforts of another former Belizean Olympian, Ian Gray, and we three engaged in a refreshing discussion at the Hour Bar about the situation of athletics and sports in general in Belize. A very humble and sincere brother, Jayson has over the years of his athletic career also represented Belize at the Pan-American Games, the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and the Central American Games, at which he medaled on three separate occasions on the 4x400m relay team. Jayson recalled that as the sole Belizean athlete at the 2000 Olympic Games he was also at the time depressed due to the passing that year of his older sister, Pamela Jones. He has one other surviving older sister, Jacque Pitts nee Jones, he being the baby of the family.
We asked Jayson, still with a trim, though solid physique at 43, if he has been able to “feel the love” of the Belizean sporting fans, considering that we have never seen him perform at a local meet, of which there have not been many. Except when he briefly visited for the funeral of his grandfather, retired Acting Commissioner of Police Eric Jones back around 1990, and then for a family reunion in 2018 to celebrate his mom’s 65th birthday, he said he has rarely spent time in Belize before, usually travelling from the U.S. to meet the rest of the Belize contingent at the regional Games or the Olympics; and the brief occasions passing through Belize have been spent focused on the upcoming events, so he never got to really see Belize. With his parents now residing in Ladyville, he is just beginning with this week long stay to get a feel of the country his parents call home, despite the current limitations due to Covid-19.
Belizean by blood, born in Germany, and raised in the U.S., Jayson has three citizenships, but it is Belize, the Jewel, that he has had the pleasure of representing in his athletic career. Now he would like to give back, to find a way to help uplift the under achieving sport. He said that, because our standards are so woefully low, perhaps due to meets being so infrequent, our young athletes have not been able to attain the minimum performance levels in their respective events that would make them eligible for the many scholarship offers available in the U.S. for foreign student athletes. With his competitive athletic career now behind him, he is an accountant and financial adviser, Jayson says his heart is still in athletics, and, while he has no desire to impose on or displace anyone, he would like to find a way to make some meaningful contribution to what he sees as the plight of athletics in Belize.
Considering he has been a part of so many Belizean athletic delegations over the years, we asked Jayson, now that he is no longer competing, if he has been approached by anyone from the local athletic governing body for advice or input? Nada.
With the ever enthusiastic and insightful Ian Gray driving the conversation, some meaningful ideas and suggestions were explored over lunch, courtesy of Jayson; and I think the brother really means well for Belize; if we can only find a way, like with many other successful Belizeans in the diaspora, to design an adequate platform or vehicle for them to effectively contribute their talents and resources toward the real development opportunities that our youths in Belize so sorely need.
“You can go, but yo must come back!” At the sports desk, we have an optimistic feeling that Belize will be hearing more from the likes of Jayson Jones in the not too distant future, and it will help the Sleeping Giant of Belizean talent to begin meaningful development towards a position that commands respect in the region and indeed the world.
Bon voyage, and stay safe, brother Jayson Jones!
(P.S. According to Wikipedia, Jayson Jones is currently the Belize national record holder in three events: the 4x400m relay 3:16.80 along with Michael McKoy, Joel Wade and Elston Shaw at the C.A. Games in Honduras in 1997; the 100m sprint 10.41 at Clemont, USA in 2008; and the 200m sprint 21.14 at Clemont, USA in 2008.)