When 26-year-old bank worker Sade Jones signed up to participate in the 2016 edition of the CariFin Games, she was determined to represent her company to the best of her ability.
So determined was she that despite falling ill and experiencing severe pain on the day of the Miss CariFin competition, Jones refused to quit and opted to see the competition through.
It was this display of determination and perseverance that earned her the “Spirit of the Games” award.
This special award is given to two participants each year, one male and one female, who are deemed to have shown true “grit”, consistency and determination at the CariFin games. The award is important because it not only recognizes the physical feats a participant is able to accomplish, but also the character traits that make them stand out.
Last year, Jones was the sole winner of the award.
It was the first time in the history of the Games that a participant had chosen to continue on in the competition despite feeling physically unwell.
Jones, who represented Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), participated in the CariFin Games for the first time last year.
And unknown to organisers, she had been dealing with medical issues in the lead up to the Games. She had been diagnosed with a kidney stone, which left her in great discomfort. To make matters worse, she had come down with a virus and was feeling generally unwell.
“It was a physical strain on me,” she said during an interview. “It was very painful.”
Jones was advised to sit out the games and “take it easy”.
But she would not quit without giving it her best try. “I did not want to let down my institution,” she said. “People were depending on me. I had made a commitment and I wanted to fulfil that commitment.
”Indeed, Jones fulfilled her commitment and placed 4th overall in the competition.
She delivered a performance unlike any other and thrilled the crowd with her dance fitness routine. The routine consisted of elements of African and Latin dancing which Jones completed without any hint of feeling unwell. It was her sheer determination that the judges deemed deserving of special recognition.
Jones is proud of being able to overcome her physical challenges to compete in the Games and prouder still at being selected for the Spirit of the Games award.
“I didn’t expect it. I just went for the experience and to do my best. I was not looking for any award or recognition,” she said.
Describing herself as a lover of literature and reading, Jones said her trophy now sits in a place of honour on her bookshelf, surrounded by all her favourite books. The San Fernando native added that her participation in the 2016 games was purely by chance as she was not always into fitness events.
Though she dabbled in sports like gymnastics and swimming in her teenage years, she admitted that fitness was not a focus point in her twenties.
“I got lazy,” she laughed. But she has no regrets about participating in the games. In fact, she lauds CariFin for its ability to bring together various in
stitutions that compete with each other in the financial market.
And though Jones described her experience in the 2016 games as a fun one, she will unfortunately not be participating again in 2017.
As the CariFin Games are open only to financial institutions and their employees, Jones no longer qualifies for entry since she has since moved on from
JMMB and is now employed in public relations. She however still wants to be involved as a judge or a mentor.
“I’d like to still be a part of it, to help in some way,” she said. “Maybe to give advice to other women coming in to participate.”She plans to reach out to organizers of the event to find out how she can still get involved.