Six days after her 23rd birthday, Tyra Gittens gifted herself the heptathlon title on what was for her a bittersweet final day of the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

In what she described as the hardest meet of her life, the Texas A&M junior topped the heptathlon high jump (1.84m), long jump (6.64) and 200m (23.79) on the way to her second-best score of 6285 points that was more than enough for victory but 135 points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420.

It was, however, 218 more of the University of Miami’s Michelle Atherley. The Miami senior, who was the fastest in the 100m hurdles (13.15), scored 6067 points for the silver medal. University of Texas freshman Kristine Blazevica scored 5984 points for the bronze medal.

Putting it simply, after three days of gruelling competition, Gittens just ran out of gas. She literally fell across the finish line to complete the heptathlon 800m in which she was 19th overall, scoring 707 points for her time of 2:28.88.

Her legs were sapped because after the long jump on Thursday in which she won a silver medal, Gittens then had four events in the heptathlon on Friday before completing the other three on Saturday even while contending for individual honours in the high jump.

She just managed to complete the high jump 10 minutes before competing in the heptathlon 800m, her final event of the meet.

The athlete, who has a season-best of 1.95m was only able to clear 1.87m, good enough for third place behind A&M teammate, Jamaica’s Lamara Distin, who cleared a personal best 1.90m to win the silver medal. The gold medal went to South Carolina freshman, Rachel Glenn, who cleared a personal-best 1.93m.

Gittens just missed out on long-jump gold on Thursday when she soared out to 6.68m, two centimetres shy of the winning mark of 6.70m by Texas sophomore Tara Davis.

 Jasmine Moore of Georgia jumped 6.65m for the bronze medal.

 

 

Sporting Kansas City earned a 1-1 draw with Austin as they extended their unbeaten streak to four matches in MLS.

Daniel Salloi cancelled out Cecilio Dominguez's first-half opener to ensure Sporting KC shared the points on Saturday.

Entering the contest, Sporting KC had won four of their last five home games against expansion sides, dating back to 2017 (D1).

Sporting KC had also recorded four come-from-behind victories this season, already matching San Jose Earthquakes' league-leading total of four comeback wins from the entire 2020 season.

While they were unable to complete the comeback for maximum points, Sporting KC avoided defeat thanks to Salloi.

Despite controlling most of the early action, Austin opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Dominguez rolled a shot past Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Salloi, however, equalised with 19 minutes remaining after firing home the rebound.

Sporting KC are second in the Western Conference – just a point behind leaders Seattle Sounders, who have played a game less, while Austin are 10th and nine points adrift.

Kagiso Rabada took five wickets to help South Africa to victory over West Indies by an innings and 63 runs in the first Test in St Lucia on Saturday.

The tourists carried a lead of 143 into day three and completed the job before lunch at the Daren Sammy Stadium for their first away Test victory since 2017.

Resuming play on 82-4, West Indies lost Jermaine Blackwood (13) and Jason Holder (four) early on before Roston Chase provided some temporary respite.

Chase added 62 runs for the hosts, but he was bowled by left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj and Rahkeem Cornwall was caught at mid-off by Rassie van der Dussen for a duck.

A fifth wicket for Rabada followed soon after, with Joshua Da Silva (nine) doing little to extend the session.

Anrich Nortje claimed the last wicket as Jayden Seales (three) flashed at a wide ball and edged to Wiaan Mulder, giving South Africa a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.


RABADA LEADS THE WAY

The likes of Lungi Ngidi and Nortje played a big part in South Africa's dominant victory, but Rabada deserves particular praise after his first Test five-for since March 2018.

West Indies had no response to Rabada's bowling, which included the wickets of Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Blackwood, Da Silva and Cornwall.


CHASE RUNS NOT ENOUGH

The West Indies lost by an innings at home for the sixth time in 253 matches despite the best efforts of Chase, who top-scored for his side with 62 runs.

Chase was the only West Indies player to score above 20, a tally that included back-to-back boundaries to bring up his half-century off 122 balls.

South African pace bowler Lungi Ngidi has hailed the potential of West Indies debutant Jayden Seales who claimed a hat-trick on debut for the regional team earlier this.

The West Indies have had a mediocre start to the first Test, with the young bowler’s performance on the first day, where he claimed 3 for 34 one of the few highlights of the match so far.

The inclusion of the 19-year-old, in the absence of lead strike bowler Shannon Gabriel, had proven to be somewhat of a controversial decision.  Critics insisted that the player’s limited experience, having played one First-Class match prior to his debut, meant that more experienced bowlers were being overlooked in his favour.

Ngidi, who himself lit up the first day for South Africa after claiming a sensational 5 for 19, insisted that he had so far been impressed with the young bowler’s talent.

 "He is a bit of a danger and a very exciting future lies ahead for West Indies with him in the line-up," Ngidi told members of the media.

"I was keeping a really good eye on him and his seam presentation is pretty much what I tried to do when I was bowling. I think he has a great wrist behind the ball and a very clean action and he seems he can run in all day."

An experimental Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad were thoroughly outclassed by the Japanese Olympic team, in a 4-0 loss, at the Tokyo Stadium, on Saturday morning.

Far from the competent display put on against the Serbian squad a few days earlier, the mix and match Jamaica team struggled to shift out of first gear and barely managed a shot on goal for 90 minutes.

The Samurai Blue, on the other hand, were razor-sharp and moved the ball with pace and purpose throughout the encounter.  Although a bit fortuitous, it was hardly a surprise when the Asian squad took the lead through Takefusa Kubo.  His fierce 32nd-minute strike, fired from inside the area to the left of the goal, went through the legs of four defenders before also going through Jamaica goalkeeper Dillion Barnes, who seemed unsighted.

The swarming Japanese increased the lead further 10 minutes later when Wataru Endo, given space just outside the 18-year area, used it to his advantage with geometric precision as he curled a shot high to the left of a fully outstretched Barnes.

Any hopes of a comeback were killed off early in the second half when substitute Ayase Ueda ran on to a defense-splitting pass, from the centre of midfield, and cheekily dinked over an onrushing Barnes to make the score 3-0 in the 58th minute.  The rout was completed in a simplistic fashion, in the 64th minute, when a loosely marked Ritsu Doan picked up the ball five yards from goal before pivoting to blast it into the net.

The match marked the end of what was supposed to be a three-match tour for the Jamaica team, where the first match against the Japan national team was cancelled after a COVID-19 testing mix-up led to the Caribbean squad not having enough players.

Jamaica international Alvas Powell has officially rejoined Major League Soccer (MLS) after signing a one-year deal with Philadelphia Union.

The 26-year-old spent the past several weeks training with the team and was offered a contract on Thursday.  Prior to signing the deal, the defender spent the majority of his career at MLS club Portland Timbers where he made 101 appearances between 2015 and 2018. 

The 29-year-old had joined Sudanese club Al-Hilal Clu in December after another US franchise Inter Miami CF declined to offer him a new contract.  Before leaving the club he had made just four appearances for the franchise owned by former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham.

Union sporting director Ernst Tanner confirmed that the Union were excited to have secured the services of the Jamaica defender.

“We are excited to add Alvas to our defensive unit," Tanner said.

"He brings almost eight years of MLS experience to the club as well as the mentality and work ethic it takes to win a Cup. He has the physicality required to contribute to all phases of play and adds important depth to our backline,” he added.

Powell won the MLS Cup with Portland in 2015.

 

 

Quinton de Kock made the biggest hundred of his Test career to ease South Africa into a commanding advantage in the first Test against West Indies.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 141 not out on the second day in St Lucia, striking seven sixes in an onslaught that none of his team-mates came close to matching.

In response to West Indies' feeble 97 all out, South Africa ran up 322 for a 225-run first-innings lead, before limiting the home side to 82-4 second time around.

The tourists will therefore carry a lead of 143 into day three, with West Indies buckling again and looking set for a humiliating home loss.

De Kock, on four not out overnight, set the tone on Friday when he cut away the first delivery of the morning to the boundary.

The man on the end of that treatment, Kemar Roach, avoided being hoisted for a six by the increasingly aggressive De Kock, but Jayden Seales, Rakheem Cornwall and Jason Holder were each carted twice, while Kyle Mayers was also flogged for a maximum.

Across the day, De Kock made 137 of the 194 runs scored by South Africa's batsmen, the 28-year-old finding little support as he posted his sixth Test hundred. Rassie van der Dussen was out in mid-morning for 46, having added just 12 to his overnight score, Holder (4-75) having him caught by Shai Hope at gully.

The wickets kept tumbling while De Kock continued untroubled, Wiaan Mulder's 25 being the only significant other contribution. Keshav Maharaj perished to a majestic catch from substitute Kieran Powell off Cornwall, the short-leg fielder reaching down to his right to make the perfect grab.

West Indies had no answer to De Kock, and nor did their opening batsmen subsequently know how to handle South Africa's Kagiso Rabada, both Kraigg Brathwaite and Powell pinned lbw by the paceman as the hosts slid to 25-2 second time around. When Anrich Nortje had both Hope and Mayers held at third slip, West Indies were 51-4. A punishing defeat beckons on Saturday, surely.

De Kock's one-man show

The scorecard tells us that there were other South African batsmen involved on Friday, but it barely felt like it. De Kock's performance was majestic and dominant, his innings containing 12 fours and those seven sixes and coming from just 170 deliveries. His Test best stood at 129 before this knock, which he managed against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 2019 and in an undefeated innings at Centurion against England three years earlier.

Innings mauling incoming

West Indies have offered nothing to suggest there is a twist to come in this match. Captain Brathwaite might try to rally the troops, but this is surely all about damage limitation now. The South African quicks again bowled with terrific control, and they must be excited about the prospect of a second Test at this Gros Islet ground again next week.

The very successful staging of the inaugural Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA)/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) ‘Olympic Destiny’ track and field series has arrested the attention of the global sporting fraternity in a manner that has left experts shouting "bravo".

In a publication, World Athletics stated that the series is "aptly named JOA/JAAA ‘Olympic Destiny’. The Washington Post newspaper in the United States also had the event on its radar with a report on the explosive world-leading 10.63 performance of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres.

Performances during the series were also captured in traditional and new media entities worldwide.

Although only in its first year, ‘Olympic Destiny’ has already earned a reputation locally and internationally as a standard-bearer in track and field, which the JOA and its member association, the JAAA, intend to guard jealously.

Contemplating current health challenges and risks and looking to the future, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, in a post-event interview, stated that, "Olympic Destiny gave athletes a new and inspired lease on life amidst the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national senior trials will be the 'Olympic Verdict' as athletes vie for coveted places at the pinnacle multi-sport the Olympic Games”.

The description, ‘Olympic Verdict’, of the national senior trials, is on point as several events, including the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and the triple jump for both men and women, as well as the discus for men, are expected to be competitive and showstoppers.

Secretary-General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, in anticipating keen contests, remarked that "on D-day at the national senior trials, diplomacy will somewhat give way to assertive rivalry for at the end of it all there will be one verdict, which performances will deliver.”

This year's national senior trials between June 24 and 27 at the National Stadium is indeed the ‘Olympic Verdict’ as "emerging generations will meet experienced campaigners in a decider that will be healthy for the sport, thrilling for the fans and ensure succession," Foster said.

The jury will certainly not be out where the staging of future Destiny series is concerned as the JOA intends to roll out ‘Olympic Destiny’ in 2022 and beyond in athletics and other sports.

"Olympic Destiny is now a staple on the calendar as we have earmarked the summer and winter Games as dramatic watershed events of exciting times ahead of us,'' Samuda declared.

If the significant turnout of athletes and the notable performances are anything to go by, the ‘Olympic Destiny’ Series will become not only a local product of Olympism but an international asset.

 

Jamaica striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw has given the clearest indication yet that her time at Bordeaux has come to an end amid rumours that she is likely to make a move to England in the offseason.

Deneisha Blackwood found redemption after missing a first-half penalty when she scored the only goal of the match in Jamaica’s 1-0 win over Nigeria in the opening match of the 2021 WNT Summer Series in Texas yesterday.

Blackwood scored in the 51st minute after Vyan Sampson collided with a Nigeria defender causing the ball to slip through past the far post. Jody Brown chased it and passed it back to Blackwood, who slammed it into the upper left corner from eight yards.

She would have been relieved after missing a penalty after Jody Brown was taken down inside the 18-yard box by past midfielder Rita Chikwelu. Expected to score, Blackwood kicked a tame shot directly at goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, who kneeled to effect an easy save.

Just before Blackwood scored what proved to be the game-winner, Ijeoma Okoronkwo seemed to have scored but she was ruled offside.

Nigeria almost pulled level in the 83rd minute, when forward Michelle Alozie’s shot struck the crossbar with a left-footed shot from outside the box.

Jamaica also came close to scoring again in the dying moments of the game when Tiffany Cameron got loose on a breakaway but Oluehi closed her down and went to ground to save Cameron’s shot.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, is already focusing on getting a much better performance from the team in the second innings after a disastrous start to the series against South Africa saw them dismissed for 97 on the first day.

The West Indies had a day to forget at the crease, failing to get to triple digits in an innings for just the 19th time ever.  Jason Holder had the team’s high score with a mere 20 runs, with Brathwaite himself and opening partner Shai Hope adding the next best with 15 apiece.

The hosts were undone by the pace tandem of Lungi Ngidi, who claimed an impressive 5 for 19, and Anrich Nortje who took 4 for 35.  In response,  South Africa were 128 for 4 but Brathwaite was already thinking about the second innings.

“Obviously, South Africa bowled well and we didn’t bat well, so we have to make up for it in the second innings, it’s as simple as that,” Brathwaite said at the end of the day’s play.

“We played some loose shots, but it happens, everything won’t always be perfect as batsmen we played some balls we know we probably shouldn’t have played at, we should have left, but we know what we have to do in the second innings.”

Debutant West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales insists looking to maintain consistency was critical to his success, on a day when his hat-trick spell provided a rare bright spot on a tough start against South Africa.

The 19-year-old Seales ended with figures of 34 for 3.  His fiery response proved critical in ensuring the tourist ended the day with some doubts in mind at 128 for 4, some 38 runs ahead, and in command of the Test match early, but things could have been much worse.

Earlier on, Lungi Ngidi claimed a jaw-dropping 5 for 19 and Anrich Nortje 4 for 35 as the two combined to bowl out the spell-struck West Indies for 97 in the first innings.  Following the dismissal of South Africa opener and captain Dean Elgar, by Kemar Roach, Seales fired back, his deliveries removing Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, and Kyle Verreynne.

“I just tried to remain as consistent as possible.  To try and create pressure and don’t try anything too different.  I do that and I get wickets,” Seales said following the day’s play.

Despite a difficult start for the West Indies, however, the young bowler believes the team remains in the game.

“I don’t think we are out of the game.  Today is just the first day, we didn’t bat as well as we wanted to but I think we pulled it back with the way that we bowled today.”

 

South Africa dismantled a sorry West Indies for 97 on day one of the first Test in St Lucia, before debutant Jayden Seales impressed in a late charge from the hosts.

Lungi Ngidi took his second Test five-wicket haul and Anrich Nortje got rid of four batsmen as the tourists' rampant pace attack left the Windies reeling on Thursday.

It brought up what was just West Indies' second sub-100 total in a Test since 2004.

However, it was not all doom and gloom for West Indies, as teenager Seales took 3-34 to restrict South Africa to 128-4 at stumps.

Sharp bowling from Kagiso Rabada had West Indies on the back foot early, setting the stage for Nortje (4-35) to clatter Shai Hope's off stump.

Nkrumah Bonner received a nasty blow to the helmet from the next delivery and though he was given the go-ahead to continue batting, making 10 runs, that contribution marked the end of his match. Bonner was replaced in the field by substitute Kieran Powell, who will stay involved for the remainder of the Test.

Windies captain Kraigg Braithwate was also bowled by Nortje as South Africa clicked through the gears, and ultimately it was his predecessor as skipper, Jason Holder, who finished as the highest-scorer with a measly 20.

Holder's was the last wicket to fall and was Ngidi's fifth of the innings, the paceman having gone for just 19 runs.

Down but not out, the Windies struck early in South Africa's reply – Dean Elgar going for a duck just five deliveries into his first innings as full-time Test captain.

Keegan Petersen (19) followed in the 10th over, Seales claiming the first wicket of his Test career when the South African debutant edged through to Holder.

But Aiden Markram was on hand to steady the ship, taking South Africa to within a few overs of stumps before succumbing to Seales on 60.

Seales, 19, had his third wicket of a brilliant spell before play was up, Kyle Verreynne slashing at a shorter delivery, with Joshua Da Silva's impressive catch at least giving South Africa some overnight food for thought.

NGIDI AND NORTJE PICK UP THE SLACK

For too long, South Africa have been heavily reliant on Rabada to lead their attack, but his fellow fast bowlers were on hand to deliver this time around.

Ngidi's post-lunch spell was blistering, with Nortje having done the legwork in the morning session. It marked some step up from the last time Ngidi played a Test, when he took 2-74 against Pakistan in April.

SUPER SEALES SHINES

Perhaps the Windies figured they had little to lose, given their dismal first innings, but Seales offered a glimmer of hope.

He bowled with variety and plenty of pace. If the Windies are to get anything from this match, they may need a debut five-for from the teenager, and for it to come quickly on day two.

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

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