I have scoliosis. Constant stinging sensations, unintentional bad posture and stares from strangers that slowly leads to dwindling confidence are just some of its effects. Luckily the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt helped me.

I was diagnosed in 2010. My type of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis.

Doctors don’t know the exact reason for a curved spine and so I don’t have all the answers.

It's frustrating.

Still, I had no choice but to live with it and reduce some of its effects. I started with the physical ones; my curved spine, uneven shoulders etc. My doctor, at the time, suggested I get a back brace. I did. People with scoliosis get a brace to restrict further curvature of the spine. A brace does not correct the curve at all, surgery does that.

While my bulky brace prevented my curve from getting worse, the attention it brought lessened my confidence.

People were rude. Especially when I wore my brace outside of my clothes to reduce the impressions and bruises it left on my skin after long hours of wearing it (I was allowed to remove my brace for showers only).

However, there were others who were genuine and encouraging. On some random day a curious man asked me about my back brace. I told him the basics and he replied, “do you know who also has scoliosis? Usain Bolt!”

According to Bolt’s autobiography, ‘Faster Than Lightning Bolt’, scoliosis curved his spine to the right and made his right leg half an inch shorter than his left.

Research studies were conducted to examine it more closely. Researchers are eager to know if his scoliosis works for, or against him in races.

An article published on July 2017 in the New York Times headlined, ‘Something Strange in Usain Bolt’s Stride’ said, “shortly after Bolt retires, the Southern Methodist University (S.M.U.) researchers hope to persuade him to visit their lab for more direct testing on a treadmill.”

The last thing on my mind was believing that Bolt could be a guinea pig. Instead, I thought about the hope that his exceptional performances gave me in spite of having scoliosis.

Happy 34th Birthday Bolt. Overcoming the emotional effects of scoliosis seemed nearly impossible until I witnessed your fearlessness.

I owe you a big thank you!

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Sarina Wiegman will succeed Phil Neville as England Women's head coach from September next year. 

The Netherlands boss will replace the former Manchester United defender on a four-year deal.

Neville's contract expires in July 2021, with the 43-year-old having been appointed in January 2018.

Wiegman will remain in charge of her home nation for the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, while it remains to be seen who will oversee the Great Britain team in Japan.

"England is the cradle of football and I'm very much looking forward to contributing my experience and expertise to this ambitious team," said Wiegman, who guided Netherlands to the Euro 2017 title and last year's World Cup final.

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "Sarina was the outstanding candidate from a very strong field.

"She is a proven winner and we are confident she can take England to the next level, giving us the best possible opportunity of achieving our ambition to win a major tournament."

The 50-year-old's first opportunity to deliver on that will be at the postponed Women's Euros, now scheduled for July 2022.

The Caribbean’s first female Olympic champion is about to receive a national honour from the Government of Jamaica.

As Jamaica celebrated its 58th year of Independence, her outstanding servants from various fields were announced to receive national recognition come Heroes’ Day October 19.

Twenty four years since shrugging off the challenge of Americans Kim Batten and Tonja Buford-Bailey in Atlanta, Hemmings-McCatty is finally receiving her due.

She is to be conferred with the nation’s fifth highest honor, the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander Class.

We could debate whether this honour is a number of years too late or even if Hemmings-McCatty should be receiving a higher accolade.

But for now, we say, well deserved.

Hemmings-McCatty was no ordinary servant of Jamaica’s track and field. She represented the country at three Olympic Games and won three medals; 2 in the 400 metres hurdles and one in the mile relay.

Since 1980, track and field enthusiasts across Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world felt that Merlene Ottey would be the nation’s first female Olympic Gold medallist.

Ottey, Jamaica’s first female world champion had been a consistent force in major events and therefore that feeling was not without a strong base.

In fact, at the 1996 Games, Ottey was denied achieving that feat by only thousandths of a second when victory in the Women’s 100 metres was awarded to American Gail Devers.

Ironically Hemmings-McCatty’s quest for Gold started the following day, July 28 and culminated on July 31.

Who can forget the voice of American commentator Carol Lewis belting, “… here comes Kim Batten.”

Batten, the world record holder at the time, was indeed making a strong push, but that season Hemmings-McCatty’s improved hurdling technique ensured there were no errors on her part as she smoothly maneuvered her way to victory, almost unbothered by the Americans who had sandwiched her.

Arms aloft as she crossed the line, the then 27-year-old, broke the Olympic record she had set in the semi-finals and became the first woman to run sub-53 seconds in the 400 metres hurdles in consecutive races.

While Atlanta 1996 was the crowning moment of her 11-year senior international career, Hemmings-McCatty’s legacy goes way beyond that.

At the Sydney 2000 Games, she overcame a period of injuries and backed up her “96 Gold with a silver-medal performance.

She also won silver as part of the country’s 4x400 relay team.

She was also a consistent force at the IAAF World Championships, winning four medals, 3 individual and a mile relay Gold, a first for the country, achieved at the 2001 championships in Edmonton, Canada. 

Since her retirement at the end of the 2002 season, she has given back to the sport in several ways, including serving as team manager for national teams and currently organises a development meet, specifically for schools in the Northern region, including in St Ann where she was born.

Not bad for a girl who was given a university scholarship “as part of a package deal” after her high school years ended at Vere Technical.

The record shows she is one of the best to have done it, and while, for whatever reason, the land of wood and water has taken some time to officially acknowledge that fact, we salute her and say thank you for being one of the best firsts to grace this blessed land.

Jamaica’s first-ever Youth Olympic Games champion Odean Skeen believes he still has what it takes to be one of the best sprinters in the world.

Skeen, the 15th Jamaican to break 10 seconds over 100 metres has a personal best of 9.98 seconds, set in 2017.

He was among the favourites to make the Jamaica team for the IAAF World Championships in London that year but pulled up with a hamstring injury in his semi-final at the National Stadium in Kingston.

The 25-year-old, who has struggled with injuries since high school, says that was an especially difficult moment for him to handle.

“That moment of time I feel like to give up,” he explained to Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver on The Commentators Podcast.

“I could actually win Jamaica trials or even come second,” said the confident former Wolmer’s star athlete.

The 2012 IAAF World Under-20 bronze medalist also revealed that his confidence level fell dramatically following the incident.

He has since done surgery and gone through several coaching changes but now says he has found a home in Texas with Baylor University’s Associate Men’s Coach Michael Ford.

He admitted that Ford has played a significant role in his confidence returning and while he has had doubts in the past, he is now extremely confident he can make a strong statement in 2021 including at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

The rescheduled Tokyo Games cannot go ahead if the present global health situation persists, the chairman of the Olympics organising committee has admitted.

Friday was supposed to be the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus pandemic saw the Games postponed until 2021.

Organising chief Yoshiro Mori was asked by national broadcaster NHK if the Olympics would be able to go ahead if things were unchanged.

"If the current situation continues, we couldn't," he said, before adding that he believes such a scenario is hypothetical and the outlook will improve.

"I can't imagine a situation like this will continue for another year."

Mori stated that finding a vaccine is likely to be crucial for the Olympics to take place in 2021.

"Whether the Olympics can be done or not is about whether humanity can beat the coronavirus. Specifically, the first point will be that a vaccine or drug has been developed," Mori added.

International Olympics Committee chief Thomas Bach recently suggested the Olympics may go ahead with reduced spectator numbers.

Mori suggested Bach was referring to a worst-case scenario and, while acknowledging different scenarios may have to be looked at if the pandemic continues as it is now, he is against a behind-closed-doors Olympics.

"We shouldn't make spectators go through hard times. Sporting events are all about the whole country empathising," Mori told Kyodo News.

The effects of climate change are staring athletes dead in the eye.

The increased expenses of cooling Stadia around the world should be disturbing enough.

It’s full time athletes advocate for the environment.

Yes, climate change affects everybody.

The thing is, I can list everyday people who try to spread knowledge about it. I remember reaching out to Suzanne Stanley, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust because I was curious.

I wanted to know more about the environment and climate change and I wanted to share that knowledge with others. She answered all my questions.

There aren’t many athletes who, with their millions of Instagram followers and big endorsement contracts who have taken similar steps. Maybe it isn’t their job, but it is their business.

Sport contributes to climate change in more ways than we think. Researchers have even dubbed the industry’s impact on the environment, an ‘inconvenient truth’.

Here’s one example. To fill a stadium ahead of an event, athletes, spectators and the media travel. This travel impacts the environment in major ways. Air travel, driving by bus, taxi, or personal vehicles add to the regular release of carbon dioxide into the air.

Carbon dioxide traps heat— increasing the global temperature. As places get hotter, you may find just as sport impacted the environment, the environment will now begin to impact sport.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, water breaks became a regular part of the game. Interestingly, water breaks just to help footballers survive 90 minutes on the pitch are expected to be part of the sport for the foreseeable future. Will we wait until the medical requirements for playing a game of football become too prohibitive for the game to be played? Maybe that is too far down the road for some of us to look.

Cutting down trees increases temperatures as well. We need trees because they absorb carbon dioxide. Less carbon dioxide, less trapping of heat, cooler temperatures.

However, every few years, there are a number of cities and/or countries that bid on major international events like the World Cup or the Olympic Games. For a bid to be successful, that country or city has to prove it can provide the facilities to host those games.

Yes, you guessed it, these stadia are going to be built at the expense of trees. Trees in the construction, as well as trees just to make space.

Sports like car racing contribute to the carbon footprint. These athletes get paid to do a sport that glorifies the internal combustion engine. When income is involved (and lots of it) it’s easy to turn a blind eye.

Formula One racing, for instance, is a billion-dollar-per-year business, climate change be damned.

NASCAR is another racing entity that hovers around the billion-dollar mark as well, but the need for big engines and blinding speed will mean, unlike the circuit has done with the Black Lives Matters campaign, there won’t be too much change.

Thank God for Formula E!

What I’m saying is, we all have a part to play in spreading awareness about climate change. This includes how we contribute to it and ways to mitigate/adapt to it. But athletes are barely doing anything. Hardly ever utilizing their following.

Why aren’t the voices from athletes posting information about climate change on social media platforms as big as the carbon footprint their sports leave?

Let me make some suggestions that won’t hurt an athlete.

There are fun and accurate infographics about climate change that are free to share. Infographics aren't overwhelming— this is good for short attention spans. They give relevant information quickly and clearly. The visuals help too.

But before athletes can share information, they have to educate themselves. Luckily, they can ask around as I did.

There are athletes who do their part and are providing an example for others to follow.

Elaine Thompson was the ambassador for NuhDuttyUpJamaica and participated in the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017.

It’s an eye-opening experience to see just how much waste is collected.

Last but not least, and I don’t envisage this happening anytime soon, but athletes and the associations that fund events need to begin sanctioning countries that don’t take climate change seriously. Don’t compete in those countries. Let’s see the reformative power of sport at work.

The lack of advocacy from athletes would suggest they aren’t impacted by climate change.

Maybe their spacious houses have a pool and air conditioning to keep them cool. Perhaps they fly out to another country when the weather in their own takes a turn for the worse, who knows?

What I do know is climate change affects everyone. We all need to speak up about it.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

There have been rumours that World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is no longer being coached by the MVP Track Club and the man who brought her to stardom, coach, Stephen Francis.

An 11-year-old British skateboarding prospect for the Tokyo Olympics is "lucky to be alive" after she suffered a harrowing crash in training.

Sky Brown vowed to "come back even stronger" from the accident that saw her airlifted to hospital with fractures to her skull and breaks to her left hand and wrist.

Brown had been training with Tony Hawk, a superstar of the sport, at his California base on Thursday.

Video footage of the lead-up to the crash was posted on the youngster's Instagram account, which is managed by her mother, Mieko, revealing the moment Brown seemingly attempts to cross from one ramp to another.

It showed her appearing to lose momentum and being unable to keep up with the skateboard, before she begins to fall as the footage is stopped.

She landed head-first on her hand. Emergency services and a helicopter are pictured in the video before the injured youngster is shown in her hospital bed.

Brown says to the camera: "I don't usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do, but this was my worst fall.

"And I just wanted everyone to know that it's okay, don't worry, I'm okay. It's okay to fall sometimes and I'm just going to get back up and push even harder."

She added in a written note: "I’m excited to come back even stronger and even tougher."

Hawk responded to Brown's Instagram post by sending the message: "Worst day ever. Hope your surgery went well."

Brown's father Stu, quoted on the BBC, said: "Sky landed head-first off a ramp on her hand. When she first came to hospital, everyone was fearful for her life.

"Sky had the gnarliest fall she's ever had and is lucky to be alive."

Brown is hoping to become Britain's youngest Olympian at a summer Games next year.

Team GB sent her a message on Twitter, saying: "Get well soon, Sky Brown. We know you'll return stronger than ever."

Skateboard GB CEO James Hope-Gill said: "Our thoughts are with Sky and her family, and we wish her a speedy recovery."

Dwayne Bravo has been out of international cricket for a while and when he returned most recently for the West Indies, he looked rusty.

The Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled if the coronavirus makes hosting the event in its revised 2021 date unsafe.

That is the stark warning from International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who sees no viable option to further delay the Games.

Local organisers have admitted there is no scope to push the Olympics – originally scheduled to begin in July this year – back to 2022.

And Bach acknowledged the fact the Games would either have to be staged next year, or not at all.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you can't forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an Organising Committee," he told the BBC.

"You can't every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You can't have the athletes being in uncertainty."

Key stakeholders are having to consider contingency plans for a variety of scenarios should the Tokyo Olympics go ahead, but the IOC is resistant to the idea of them taking place behind closed doors.

"This is not what we want," Bach said. "Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they're in an Olympic Stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

"But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organisation, with the Japanese partners."

 

 

 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) anticipates incurring costs of up to $800million over the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

It was confirmed in March the Games would be put back to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC executive board on Thursday approved a financial plan to deal with the crisis months before the Olympics were due to start.

A mammoth sum of up to $650m will be set aside for the IOC to cover the cost of organising the rescheduled Games.

An aid package of up to $150m for the Olympic movement - including international federations, national Olympic committees and IOC-recognised organisations - has also been approved.

The IOC stated it is "undergoing a deep analysis process to evaluate and assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on all of its operations".

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "The Olympic movement is facing an unprecedented challenge.

"The IOC has to organise postponed Olympic Games for the first time ever, and has to help its stakeholders come through this global crisis.

"This new situation will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination and flexibility. We shall all need to make sacrifices and compromises. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

"This situation requires every one of us to do our part, and this applies to all of us, including the IOC. With today's financial plans, we are addressing these needs."

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates believes Tokyo in 2021 could be the greatest Games ever.

Scheduled for this year, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coates believes the extra wait for a Games could position Tokyo to be the best Olympics of all-time.

"Because we all must wait longer than the already long wait for an Olympics, the Games of Tokyo will gently but perceptibly echo the sheer joy and relief of the other delayed Olympics of Antwerp in 1920 and London in 1948," he told the AOC annual general meeting on Saturday.

"Itself, begging the question: will Tokyo usurp Sydney as the greatest Games ever? I believe the Tokyo Olympics may ultimately be amongst the greatest Games ever, if not the greatest.

"And putting the parochialism of a proud Sydney boy aside and in the spirit of Citius, Altius, Fortius, I certainly hope Tokyo will be."

Looking further ahead, Queensland is expected to make a bid to host the 2032 Olympics.

Coates believes the Games would be just what the economy in the state needs after the coronavirus pandemic.

"There is already a need for jobs and growth in the Queensland economy arising from the impact of COVID-19," he said.

"Our partner three levels of government recognised a potential 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a critical part of the state and nation's economic recovery in the short term, quite apart from all of the long-term health, wellbeing, economic and sporting legacies.

"When they tell us the moment is right to do so, we will resume and elevate dialogue with the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. A decision could be as early as 2022 or 2023.

"The opportunity is clear and exciting."

World Athletics has launched a $500,000 fund alongside the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) to help athletes affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world of sport has been decimated by the outbreak of COVID-19, which has seen the Olympic Games in Tokyo postponed by a year until 2021.

That had a knock-on effect with the World Athletics Championships, originally scheduled for 2021 in Oregon, pushed back by 12 months, while the 2020 European Championships have been cancelled.

A World Athletics statement said the fund will be used to help athletes who have lost the majority of their income from the suspension of international competition.

Resources from the 2020 and 2021 budgets of the IAF, of which Prince Albert II of Monaco is honorary president, will be allocated to help athletes. 

World Athletics president and IAF chair Sebastian Coe will front "an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics' six Area Associations".

Olympic champion and 1500 metres world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj and Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi are among the members of the working group, which will convene in the coming week for talks over how to award and distribute grants to individual athletes and to assess means of raising additional monies for the fund.

"I would especially like to thank Hicham for bringing this idea to us, and Prince Albert for his strong support of this project," Coe said. 

"I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months. 

"Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we're mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic. 

"We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible."

El Guerrouj added: "The pandemic is causing economic pain to people from all parts of society, including athletes, and this is a time when we must come together as a global community to help each other. 

"I am delighted that Seb and World Athletics reacted so positively to my suggestion that we create a fund for athletes, and have made it happen with the support of the International Athletics Foundation. 

"The suspension of competition has had a huge impact on many professional athletes because they can't earn prize money so I'm really pleased that we have found a way to assist them."

Prince Albert II said he hopes the initiative can help athletes continue preparations for next year's Games.

"I created more than 35 years ago the International Athletics Foundation with the late Primo Nebiolo to encourage and promote athletics and grant financial assistance to athletics federations and the most deserving athletes," he said. 

"Since its inception the Foundation has distributed for these purposes more than $30million. I am delighted that we can put our resources behind this initiative so we can make a difference to the lives of athletes who are suffering financially at this time. 

"We hope that this support will help those athletes preparing for international competition, including next year's Olympic Games, to sustain their training, support their families and that this will relieve them of some stress in these uncertain times."

The Olympic Games in Tokyo will be scrapped rather than postponed again if they cannot be held in 2021, according to event president Yoshiro Mori.

The Games were pushed back from July to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic following weeks of uncertainty as the IOC considered the best course of action.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise globally despite some of the hardest-hit countries having had some success in reducing the rate of transmission and the number of attributable deaths.

However, Tokyo 2020 president Mori says there is no prospect of the Games being delayed further if staging them in 2021 is unfeasible.

"No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped," Mori told Japanese publication Nikkan Sports.

The comments came after Yoshitake Yokokura, the president of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), suggested it would be difficult for the Games to go ahead if a vaccine against COVID-19 has not become widely available.

"Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year," Yokokura told reporters.

"I'm not saying at this point that they shouldn't be held. The outbreak is not only confined to Japan. It's a worldwide issue."

The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has passed three million, with just over 13,600 of those in Japan.

Almost 212,000 people to test positive for the virus have died.

Phil Neville will leave his role as England Women's manager when his contract expires in 2021, the Football Association has confirmed.

Lionesses boss Neville had been set to lead the team into Euro 2021, with his deal up following the tournament.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic impacting the football calendar, pushing the men's Euro 2020 into next year, the women's finals have been delayed to 2022.

Neville will continue in the position until his contract ends but will then depart, leaving a new appointment to take charge as England hosts the tournament.

The 43-year-old had also been set to coach Team GB at the Tokyo Games, though, and his role in the Olympics set-up is less clear.

The 2020 Olympics have been postponed until 2021, and the FA has not yet reached an agreement with the British Olympic Association on the possibility of Neville taking charge in Japan as planned.

"In light of the impact of current global events on the sporting calendar and in the best interests of the England Women's team, both parties were in agreement that our shared priority was to ensure the Lionesses have continuity of coaching going into the home Euro and looking towards the 2023 FIFA World Cup," Sue Campbell, the FA's director of women's football, said in a statement.

"Once football returns after this difficult period, Phil will continue his work with the Lionesses on the further development of his squad. I will support him fully with that important task while moving forward with the crucial succession planning process. 

"We will now discuss next steps with the British Olympic Association and the home nations with regard to Team GB football, and we are not in a position to make any further comment at this time."

Neville added: "As a result of the changes to the proposed tournament scheduling, we will now be working to plan for a revised match calendar once it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"I am looking forward to getting back to work with the team as soon as possible. We have a fantastic squad of players and there is plenty to work on as we look to progress as a team going into 2021."

Former Manchester United defender Neville was appointed to his first senior coaching role as England manager in 2018.

The Lionesses won the SheBelieves Cup in 2019 before reaching the Women's World Cup semi-finals later in the same year, losing to eventual champions the United States.

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