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Being healthy during the preseason for the first time in the past few seasons was a key factor behind Danielle Williams’ indoor personal best at the Clemson Invitational in South Carolina on Saturday.

World Champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Tajay Gayle were named the 2019 RJRGleaner Sports Foundation Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year in an awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus on Friday.

Fraser-Pryce saw the award presented to her for a fourth time, having previously claimed the honour in 2012, 2013 and 2015.  The recognition capped off an exceptional season for the diminutive sprinter who previously became the only athlete to win the 100m World Championship title on four occasions with triumph in Doha.

Quartermiler Shericka Jackson, who claimed three gold medals at the World Championships, with bronze in the 400m and 4x400m along with gold in the 4x100m, was runner up behind Fraser-Pryce.

The year was also an exceptional one for Gayle.  The athlete created history at the Doha World Championships after upstaging Juan Miguel Echevarria to claim top spot.  The winning jump was the longest in the world in 10 years.  It was also the farthest distance recorded at the World Championships since Ivan Pedroso’s 8.70m leap in Gothenburg, recorded some 24 years ago.

Fedrick Dacres, the World Championships discus silver medallist, was voted runner up to the Sportsman of the Year.  The other male nominees were Christopher Binnie (squash), Yona Knight-Wisdom (diving) and Travis Smikle (athletics).  Fraser-Pryce and Jackson were joined by Alia Atkinson (swimming) and Rushell Clayton, Natoya Goule, Shanieka Ricketts, Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Elaine Thompson and Danielle Williams.

Briana Williams has gone pro!

The 17-year-old Jamaican, who had an outstanding year in 2019, has signed a multi-year contract with Nike. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Recognized as one of the rising stars in track and field having won the sprint double at the World U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018, Williams was courted by a number of shoe companies with PUMA and Nike being the frontrunners.

Nike eventually won the right to the signature of the talented teen, whose coach Ato Boldon confirmed the signing to Sportsmax.TV.

“Briana has had people dedicated to her abilities for many years. Even before me, Coach Tennessee and Coach Damion Thomas, have done right by her,” Boldon said.

“I was just handed the baton for this leg of the race, but I’ve been around this industry a long time and for a company like Nike, who can back anyone, to put this level of support behind Briana, makes all of the work over the last five years, worth it. She is extremely blessed and fortunate to be where she is at just 17.”

Williams, who turns 18 in March, said the Nike deal has provided a platform for her to chase her dreams.

“I’m extremely proud. I have come a long way. This is a big deal for me because I’m young but I’m ready to show the world what I am capable of,” said Williams who now belongs to the group (HSI) that includes indoor 400m WR holder Mike Norman and world champions Christian Coleman and Dalilah Muhammad.

“I’m glad that Nike gave me this opportunity. It means the world to me as a girl with big dreams.”

The year 2019 was a big year for Williams. She won the 100m at the NACAC U18 Championships in Mexico and the Pan Am U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the year in which she ran unbeaten at the junior level.

She also won the Austin Sealy Award at the CARIFTA Games for the second year running after winning three gold medals, duplicating her achievements in 2018. In June, she set a Jamaican junior record of 11.02s in New Mexico.

Track & Field News, considered the bible of the sport, recognized her stellar year by naming her their High School Athlete of the Year for 2019.

The prodigious teen suffered a setback during the year when she returned an adverse finding for a banned diuretic found in her urine sample at the Jamaican National Championships in June where she finished third in the 100m behind two-time Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

As such, her time of 10.94s, which would have been a U18 world record and a national junior record for Jamaica, was subsequently struck from the record books.

Following a hearing before an Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in September, Williams was reprimanded but was free to compete. However, due to how late the verdict came, her chances of competing at the 2019 World Championships in Doha were effectively dashed.

The statue of former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell will be unveiled at the National Stadium on Sunday, February 9 at 4:00 pm.

St Mary High School will be aiming to defend the boys and girls titles when the Northern Championships track and field meet gets underway at Grizzlys Plantation Grove in Priory, St. Ann on Saturday, January 25.

Four-time 100-metre world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser is among six women nominated for the prestigious Laureus Sportswoman of the Year.

Trinidadian sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye is to be stripped of medals and earnings won during the period when she committed whereabouts violations, which resulted in a two-year ban.

The 2018 Commonwealth 100m gold medallist Michelle-Lee Ahye has been banned for two years after failing to notify doping testers of her whereabouts.

Young Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams lowered her 60m personal best again at the Clemson University's Orange & Purple Elite Invitational on Saturday.

Jamaica's 17-year-old sprint sensation Briana Williams opened her 2020 season with a personal best 7.27 seconds in the heats of the women's 60m at the Clemson University's Orange & Purple Elite Invitational on Saturday.

The final is scheduled for later.

Williams' 7.27-second clocking beat her previous personal best of 7.28 seconds, a time she posted in March 2019  to beat an elite high school field at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

Jayla Kirkland of Florida State finished second in 7.29 seconds, while Gabriele Cunningham, running unattached, was well beaten into third in 7.36 seconds.

The race not only represents the first for Williams but the first for the teenager since being found not to have been at fault by the Independent Anti-Doping Panel in September 2019 following a positive drug test.

She took an over-the-counter flu remedy during the Jamaican trials in June which had the banned diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide among its components.

The young sprinter then decided in September to withdraw from the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, a competition she had qualified for at the trials.

Williams, who is based in Florida, will next be in action at the Queen's School/Grace Jackson Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica on January 25, also over 60m.

She is also scheduled to take on a strong field with five Olympians, also over 60m,  at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday, February 8 at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York.

Briana Williams has gone pro!

The 17-year-old Jamaican, who had an outstanding year in 2019, has signed a multi-year contract with Nike. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Recognized as one of the rising stars in track and field having won the sprint double at the World U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018, Williams was courted by a number of shoe companies with PUMA and Nike being the frontrunners.

Nike eventually won the right to the signature of the talented teen, whose coach Ato Boldon confirmed the signing to Sportsmax.TV.

“Briana has had people dedicated to her abilities for many years. Even before me, Coach Tennessee and Coach Damion Thomas, have done right by her,” Boldon said.

“I was just handed the baton for this leg of the race, but I’ve been around this industry a long time and for a company like Nike, who can back anyone, to put this level of support behind Briana, makes all of the work over the last five years, worth it. She is extremely blessed and fortunate to be where she is at just 17.”

Williams, who turns 18 in March, said the Nike deal has provided a platform for her to chase her dreams.

“I’m extremely proud. I have come a long way. This is a big deal for me because I’m young but I’m ready to show the world what I am capable of,” said Williams who now belongs to the group (HSI) that includes indoor 400m WR holder Mike Norman and world champions Christian Coleman and Dalilah Muhammad.

“I’m glad that Nike gave me this opportunity. It means the world to me as a girl with big dreams.”

The year 2019 was a big year for Williams. She won the 100m at the NACAC U18 Championships in Mexico and the Pan Am U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the year in which she ran unbeaten at the junior level.

She also won the Austin Sealy Award at the CARIFTA Games for the second year running after winning three gold medals, duplicating her achievements in 2018. In June, she set a Jamaican junior record of 11.02s in New Mexico.

Track & Field News, considered the bible of the sport, recognized her stellar year by naming her their High School Athlete of the Year for 2019.

The prodigious teen suffered a setback during the year when she returned an adverse finding for a banned diuretic found in her urine sample at the Jamaican National Championships in June where she finished third in the 100m behind two-time Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

As such, her time of 10.94s, which would have been a U18 world record and a national junior record for Jamaica, was subsequently struck from the record books.

Following a hearing before an Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in September, Williams was reprimanded but was free to compete. However, due to how late the verdict came, her chances of competing at the 2019 World Championships in Doha were effectively dashed.

Word coming out of the MVP Track Club is that Double Olympic sprint champion, Elaine Thompson Herah, will be on the track ready to defend her title in Tokyo, Japan.

Thompson Herah looked a certain possibility for a gold medal at last year’s IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha Qatar but inexplicably finished out of contention with countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce going on to win an unprecedented fourth 100-metre world title.

It was later explained, that an Achilles injury that had stymied too seasons for Thompson Herah, was back and the athlete was not able to generate the kinds of speeds that saw her win the National Championships in Kingston, Jamaica in a world-leading 10.72 seconds, or the Pan American Games gold medal in Lima, Peru.

At the time, Thompson Herah’s coach, Stephen Francis, had said while the Achilles problem was a recurrent one, on this occasion, it was caused by calf tightness and that she would get over it without surgery.

Thompson Herah still managed a fourth-place finish in Doha but had to pull out of the 200 metres, for which she had already made the semi-final. She would take no further part in the tournament.

According to MVP Track Club President, Bruce James, who spoke to local newspaper, The Gleaner, Thompson Herah is looking better than just injury-free.

“Elaine has returned to training and is looking set to be in fully fit form long before the Olympics in Tokyo,” said James.

How many races it will take Thompson Herah to get back to her best is yet to be ascertained but James is still of the belief that all will be well.

That’s not a decision that is made in January but we are just pleased to know that she’s in training and looking so good,” he said.

Antiguan high jump specialist Priscilla Loomis has highlighted facing significant financial obstacles in her bid to compete for the country at this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 30-year-old athlete had previously hinted at retirement after narrowly failing to qualify for last year’s Doha World Championships.  On that occasion, the Pan Am Games silver medalist pointed to several factors that influenced her consideration, chiefly among them was a lack of available funding.

Despite the change of heart regarding her decision to continue competing for the tiny island nation, the funding issues remain.  

“It is what it is at this point. My husband and I spoke and he took out a personal loan to fund me and to make sure that I have whatever I need for funding so that was one of the biggest reasons why I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to even train, I knew I would not have been able to do it on the funding [from NOC],” Loomis told the Antigua Observer in a recent interview.

The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (NOC) assists with the funding of elite athletes that compete for the country.  The stipend is believed to be in the region of $US 1000 per month.  Loomis, however, seems to deem the amount to not just be insufficient but more significantly not always disbursed on time.

“I know I am not the only athlete that had minimal funding and so when we sat down and put our numbers out I had to take a step back a little bit from my business, which my clients were totally okay with. So I worked four days per month to help with the rent where I lived, to train and then my husband took out the personal loan for the rest of the year to get me what I need in terms of clothing, shoes, medicine, gear, nutrition and all that.”

A motor vehicle accident in Florida last week has not slowed World Championship sprint relay gold medallist Jonielle Smith too much as the Jamaican is already back in training ahead of her bid to make the team to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

According to reports, the vehicle Smith was driving, was rear ended, causing a spin that led to a second collision.

Though the car was badly damaged, it was reported that neither Smith, nor the two family members she was travelling with, were badly injured.

Smith, a standout at high school for Wolmer’s Girls in Jamaica’s biggest track and field championships, ran the third leg on Jamaica’s gold medal 4x100-metre team at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha, Qatar last year and finished sixth in the 100-metre final there.

Smith also recently graduated from Auburn University where she also had a more-than-creditable time on the track.

Despite earning a historic World Championship silver medal and a World Athletics Diamond League win in 2019, Jamaican triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts will be tweaking her preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

According to Ricketts coach and husband, Kerry Lee Ricketts, Shanieka will be working on more technical advances to her jumping, which will mean she competes less ahead of the Olympics.

That method is in stark contrast to the way Ricketts approached last year when she had what has been her most successful season to date.

Ricketts competed in 15 meets last year but her coach says she won’t need as many this time around.

“We won’t need many meets. I think she will probably open at either the Jamaica [International] Invitational if it has a triple jump or the Racers Grand Prix,” said coach Ricketts.

Ricketts pointed out that last year, there was a lot of testing to see what worked and what didn’t.

Now that the testing is over, Ricketts says there is no need to jump as much.

“This year, it’s not so much testing, it’s more of preparation, so we’re just basically going to prepare, prepare, prepare,” he said.

Shanieka Ricketts has been hunting for marks over 15 metres, getting closer with her personal best 14.93 metres. To get there, her coach believes she needs to get her final phase right, something that while there has been improvement, accounting for consistently bigger jumps, she still hasn’t nailed down.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of work in the last phase and we haven’t gotten it yet and we still have some work to do,” said the coach.

“It’s a learning process where, you know, you learn A and then you move on to B. You can’t learn A and B at the same time,” he said.

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