Jamaica was represented at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Para-Surfing Championship at Pismo Beach in California by Nathaniel Bailey and Toto Campbell. This is the first time the country has sent competitors to the event.
Nathaniel Bailey missed qualifying for a place in the quarter-finals by just 0.20 points. A third-form student at Jamaica College, Bailey attained his two best scores for a total of 8.20 points on the second day of the Men’s Prone 2 event qualifiers. The top 12 of the 20 contestants advanced to the quarter-finals. Toto Campbell did not qualify for the Stand 2 Division semi-finals but earned 2.44 points to finish fourth in the eighth heat of the second round.
Both of Jamaica’s para-surfers only began surfing a month ago.
Bailey is the first para-surfer to compete for Jamaica at the international level. He traveled to Pismo Beach with teammate Toto Campbell and their coach, Icah Wilmot. He knew it would be challenging for him, but he said he was ready. Bailey was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the joints, but he has never let it stop him from pursuing his interests, which include playing the drums and applying his skills in football. Surfing has now surpassed these interests, however, and he has committed himself to the development of his talent in the ocean.
According to Fernando Aguerre, the president of ISA, it is gratifying and exciting to see new talents enter the competition and challenge the sport’s established leaders. It shows how the sport of para-surfing is growing worldwide. Aguerre believes that the performances of the athletes in Pismo Beach illustrate the value that para-surfing would bring to the 2029 Paralympic Games to be held in Los Angeles.
The sport of surfing debuted at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and following that historic move, Aguerre has recommitted to his goal of including surfing at the Paralympic stage. The ISA was not successful in getting para-surfing added to the 2024 program in Paris, but Aguerre is preparing a proposal to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for 2028 after seeing the excitement the addition of surfing caused in Tokyo. He believes that para-surfing can have the same impact at the Paralympic Games.
Photo – Jamaica Olympic Association