Jamaican Olympian Zara Northover shines at BET Awards, steals spotlight during Lauryn Hill's performance

By Sports Desk July 03, 2024

The 2024 BET Awards, held on June 30 at The Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles, was a night filled with stellar performances and memorable moments. One standout segment was Lauryn Hill’s spiritual, Caribbean-inspired set that closed the show, leaving the audience on their feet. Hill's performance, adorned in the vibrant green, black, and gold colors of Jamaica, resonated deeply with viewers and attendees alike.

Among those captivated by Hill’s performance was none other than former Jamaican shot putter and 2008 Olympian Zara Northover. Known for her motivational speeches and event hosting, Northover has continued to inspire both nationally and internationally. She recently officiated the wedding of four-time gold medalist Aleen Bailey in November 2023, further cementing her presence in the sports community.

Track historians and sharp-eyed viewers noticed Northover seated in the second row behind social media personality Jordon Howlett. The moment gained an amusing twist when BET host Taraji P. Henson mistakenly honored Howlett with a rose, thinking he was the American food critic Keith Lee. Cameras caught Northover vibing to Lauryn Hill’s music, showcasing her enduring charisma and infectious energy.

Peaches Roach Findley, a former Jamaican high jumper and recent Iowa Hall of Famer, shared her excitement about her best friend's appearance. "When Zara told me she was selected to go to the BET Awards, I watched the night away knowing that the BET Awards camera would find Zara Northover," Roach Findley said. "She has always had a light you can’t deny but notice."

Northover, who owns Moving in Faith, LLC, continues to support and uplift athletes along their journeys. She expressed her excitement about her longtime friend Chelsea Hammond finally receiving her Bronze Medal from the 2008 Olympic Games, where they both competed.

Zara Northover’s presence at the BET Awards highlighted her enduring influence and celebrated her contributions both on and off the field, as she remains a beacon of inspiration within the athletic community.

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  • Olympic dream in jeopardy, attorneys to file urgent appeal for hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis Olympic dream in jeopardy, attorneys to file urgent appeal for hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis

    Attorneys representing Jamaica’s hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis are set to file an urgent appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ad hoc committee if the uncertainty surrounding her participation in the 2024 Olympic Games remains unresolved by 5 pm today, Wednesday, July 16.

    Despite achieving a National Record of 71.83 metres in May, ranking her in the top 32 in the world this year, Clunis's dream of competing on the world’s biggest stage is now hanging in the balance due to a blunder from the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

    The 28-year-old, who placed second at the JAAA National Senior Championships, initially believed she was on her way to the Olympics. However, her excitement turned to dismay when she learned that her name was omitted from the JAAA’s official list submitted to World Athletics.

    “Following the Jamaican Olympic Trials, I was elated to receive notification of my official selection to Team Jamaica. Unfortunately, I have since found myself in a difficult position. Due to an omission made by the Jamaican Athletics Administration Association, my name was not officially submitted to World Athletics. As such, I do not have a position in the Olympic Games,” Clunis shared in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

    However, after no word forthcoming from the JAAA, attorneys representing the frustrated athlete - Dr. Emir Crowne and local attorney Sayeed Bernard – have written to the JAAA informing of their intended action.

    "Mr. Bernard and I act for Ms. Nayoka Clunis, an athlete who should be well-known to you by now. As is also common ground, the JAAA’s admitted negligence (gross negligence, in some jurisdictions) has put Ms. Clunis’ Olympic dreams in jeopardy. In the absence of any updates as to Ms. Clunis’ situation by 5 p.m. today, we have been instructed to file an emergency appeal to the CAS’s ad hoc division."

    The letter continued, "Indeed, we are hopeful that an appeal to the CAS is not necessary, but the JAAA’s negligence and radio silence since July 7th has left our client with few options, not to mention the irreparable damage this has done to the mental and emotional well-being. Athletes deserve better."

    While Clunis awaits a resolution, her plight underscores the importance of strong administrative leadership, as the oversight by the JAAA could potentially rob an athlete who has shown remarkable dedication in her sport of the opportunity to achieve her dream on the global stage.



  • Jamaica tops inaugural Ice Hockey Challenger Series Jamaica tops inaugural Ice Hockey Challenger Series

    Jamaica’s Ice Hockey team emerged victorious in the final match of the Challenger Series after beating a very strong Lebanon team 12-8 at the College Ice Arena in Toronto on Saturday evening.

    In a pulsating match played before hundreds of cheering supporters, Jamaica took the early lead in the first period but fell behind after Lebanon scored three unanswered goals over the next 15 minutes of the first period. During the second of three 20-minute periods, Jamaica regrouped and fought back to take a 6-4 lead, before Lebanon pulled level at 6-6.

    Buoyed by the enthusiastic support from the massive crowd, Jamaica asserted their authority on the contest to end the period at 9–6. With victory in sight at the start of the third and final period, the Jamaicans applied pressure on their Lebanese counterparts and extended their lead to 11-7 with four minutes left in the game.

    Tight defensive work then ensured Jamaica added to their tally, though they also conceded another goal in the latter stages of the encounter. Reggie Millette and Givani Smith both scored a brace, while Maleek McGowan, Captain Taos Jordan, Amari Sellers, Tyler Drummond, Dante Sheriff, Avery Grant, Josh Mitton, and Marquis Grant-Mentis got the others.

    The Challenger Series is a new tournament involving Puerto Rico, Lebanon, and Jamaica, who are all associate members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

    The Challenger Series began in Chicago in April, continued in New York in June, and culminated in Toronto on Saturday.  At the end of the second leg in New York, Jamaica was in pole position and, as such, earned the automatic right to the final by virtue of the accumulation of points over the first two legs.

    Lebanon defeated Puerto Rico 9-3 in the playoff for a spot in the final.

    Across the three legs, Jamaica won six of their nine matches and now has an overall tally of 22 matches since it started to play competitively in 2019. Their record currently stands at 16 wins and six losses, with over 100 goals to their tally.

    Don Anderson, president of the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF), said the Federation is now setting its sights on establishing an ice rink in Jamaica as well as building a strong local program that will facilitate the team playing in qualifying tournaments for the Olympics. He added that expert opinion is that this team could be highly ranked globally if it had the opportunity to play at the next level amongst countries with Ice Rinks.

  • Young Sunshine Girls top Americas Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers; T&T, Barbados also secure spots for 2025 showpiece in Gibraltar Young Sunshine Girls top Americas Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers; T&T, Barbados also secure spots for 2025 showpiece in Gibraltar

    Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago are set to represent the Caribbean at next year’s Netball World Youth Cup, after securing the top three spots at the just-concluded Americas Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers in Guadeloupe.

    The young Sunshine Girls, who went unbeaten in the tournament, were crowned overall champions following a 54-29 win over Barbados young Gems in Sunday’s final, while Trinidad and Tobago young Calypso Girls downed Grenada 61-39 in the third-place playoff to take the final qualifying spot.

    Jamaica’s Head coach Phyllis Thompson lauded her team’s gritty showing, particularly in the semi-final where they produced a late rally to top their young Calypso Girls counterparts 40-33.

    “I am super excited and elated for the girls. They did the hard work coming into the tournament and it showed on the court. Of course we weren’t always flawless, we made our fair share of mistakes along the way, but the most important thing was to secure the win here and then work on tighten up our play going forward,” Thompson said.

    “We have a very talented and determined group of girls and it showed in the semi-final against Trinidad when we were down two goals, I reminded them that we are still in the game and they went out and gave it their all to come out victorious. So I am very proud of them and like I said we will go back to the drawing board and work on what we need to for the World Cup next year,” she added.

    While they were unable to upstage Jamaica in the final, president of the Barbados Netball Association, Dr. Carmeta Douglin struck a positive tone.

    She admitted that closing the gap with world class teams like Jamaica is no easy task but, in the same breath, insisted that improvement is possible with the right structures.

    The young Gems brushed aside Grenada 63-45 in the semi-final.

    “Our Under-21 is not a bad team, but they still need a lot of work to get to the world-class level, as you can see. So we are looking to build on Under-14, to move to Under-16, to move to Under-21, to move to seniors. So we are looking at an Academy, where we have players in training all year round, and moving up through the age groups. So this is something we are planning,” Douglin said.

    “Jamaica has been there, they have done that, and they are getting a lot more practice, a lot more exposure, because this Jamaica Under-21 team would obviously be playing in their Super League and playing with their seniors, who already have a really good start. So we need to get there, and it’s a building process, and we are working towards it,” she noted.

    Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago’s Head coach Kalifa McCollin-Lopez welcomed the third-place finish by her team.

    “I am very excited for the girls. They would have worked hard to reach here and I know they are really happy right now,” she said.

    Though the losses against Barbados, earlier in the tournament, and Jamaica in the semi-final, were hard to take, McCollin-Lopez said they served as lessons for their improved performance in the third-place contest.

    “Through those losses, we would have had to learn and grow from them; not to put themselves down too much because we had the game following, but to tidy up the mistakes (and) stick to (the) task. I think that is what we went out there and tried to do,” she shared.

    The three Caribbean teams now join pre-qualified teams New Zealand, Australia, England, Fiji, and host nation Gibraltar for the Netball World Youth Cup, a competition for emerging Under-21 players, scheduled for September 19–28 next year.

    A total of 20 teams will compete in the event. South Africa, Malawi, and Zambia qualify from Africa, and Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka qualify from Asia. The remaining six teams are yet to be decided.

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