Decorated Jamaica swimmer, Alia Atkinson, failed to qualify for the semifinals of the 100m Breaststroke on Sunday, in what was one of the slower heats.

Competing in Heat 3, the Jamaican swimming sensation clocked 31.48 seconds in her first 50m and held a slight lead over the field at the halfway point.  She, however, faded in the last few metres and returned to touch the wall third, with a time of 1:07.70 seconds.  Atkinson’s second leg split was timed at 36.22.

The heat was won by 19-year-old Lithuanian Kotryna Teterevkova who clocked 1:06.82 to touch first, in the process securing her spot in the semifinals with one of the top 16 fastest times.  German swimmer Anna Elendt also qualified from the heat after finishing second with a time of 1:06.96.

Atkinson was competing in a remarkable fifth straight Olympics.

The fastest time of the round was recorded by South African Tatjana Schoenmaker who smashed American Lilly King’s five-year-old Olympic record, clocking 1:04.82 to win heat five.

The semifinals will get underway on Monday at 8:50 pm.

 In just two days, team Jamaica has received news of two unexpected injury blows to start the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

2018 Commonwealth Games steeplechase champion, Aisha Praught Leer, has revealed via social media that she injured her left knee in training on Sunday, which later turned out to be a torn meniscus.

The athlete will, however, still attempt to compete at the Games after taking an injection to the joint.

"I will line up in Tokyo.  When I arrive I will get fluid drained from my knee and take a cortisone injection (this is legal, and my surgeon understands and supports me in this)

The unfortunate injury occurred during what she described as one of the ‘best workouts’ of her life.  The athlete explained that she felt excruciating pain as if something had torn.

“I tore my meniscus (a complete, off the bone root tear) on Sunday at training—a freak, shocking accident. I heard and felt a painful pop doing a drill but then proceeded to do one of the best workouts of my life. On Wednesday I got an MRI, then sat in quiet disbelief with Joe Bosshard as the doctor told us I need surgery ASAP.”

The always-smiling athlete is scheduled to compete in the 1500m that is set to get underway on Sunday, at 7:35 pm.  Naturally, she is heartbroken because she will not be able to compete at her maximum ability.

“I want to keep believing in the possibility of achieving the wild dreams I store deep in my heart. The reality is they will not happen in Tokyo—running to my ability is simply not possible on a knee without stability. This is the most challenging reality I have faced in my career,” Praught Leer said.

“We did nothing wrong. As I said, this was a freak accident. But now all of my silent work, the beautiful, hard-earned fitness, does not have a chance to see the light of day. The triumph I have visualized so vividly is—poof—gone in one step,” Leer lamented.

Although she understands that unexpected injuries are a part of sports, it is still a tough reality for her to accept.

“I understand this is sport—just sport. I know the truth that I am more than an athlete. But this sport means everything to me. This is my life’s work, my purpose, and my first true love. I am heartbroken.”

The athlete, who created history, being the first Jamaican to win gold in the steeplechase event at the Commonwealth Games, insists she will be proud to represent the country despite not being in top shape. 

“You will see me smiling in Tokyo with Jamaica on my chest because the honour of representing my country is one of the greatest I’ve had in my little life.”

On Thursday, news broke that gymnast Danusia Francis had suffered an injury to her left knee, which later turned out to be a torn ACL.  Francis will not be able to compete in her events.  She will, however, symbolically take part in the Uneven Bars event but will not attempt a dismount.

 

 

 

Jamaica gymnast Danusia Francis is unsure of when she sustained a competition-ending knee injury, and will only be able to symbolically compete in Saturday’s competition, but insists she remains proud to represent the country regardless.

The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a torn ACL on Friday and will now only take part in the Athletics Gymnastics Uneven Bars event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  Even so, the gymnast will not be able to fully compete as she will be unable to do a dismount routine.

 “I hope to do some sort of bar routine just to get a score on the board but without a dismount, it won’t be a competitive score, but I’ll be happy to see Jamaica represented at the Olympic Games and I still feel very proud to be wearing the Jamaican flag,” Francis told the press.

“The knee, I think, is getting worse and worse, so I can’t really tell you the exact time when the ligament damage occurred, but I found out today what it actually was and it will drastically affect my competition, unfortunately.”

  The Artistic Gymnastics competition is set to start tomorrow with the Uneven Bars finals for women taking place on Sunday.  The athlete will miss out on competing on the Balance Beam, Floor Exercise, and Vault.

 The gymnast admits the injury had come as a huge blow.

“I’m really upset to have hurt myself. I have been so prepared for this competition mentally and physically up to this point so to, at the last hurdle, be injured is disappointing. Luckily, the medics have taken really good care of me and I’m sure they will continue to do so.”

 

Jamaica sprinter Yohan Blake will have his hands full at the Tokyo Olympics not just taking part in two events on the track but also serving as a panelist for India Broadcasters Sony Sport.

The 31-year-old, who will be competing in his third Olympics, will participate in the 100m and 200m sprints.  Blake was once thought to be the heir apparent to illustrious compatriot Usain Bolt and holds the seconnd fastest times ever recorded over both events.

Following hamstring injuries in 2013 and 2014, however, he has failed to replicate that kind of form in recent years.  In fact, in Tokyo, he will be looking to make it on the podium at major games for the first time in nine years.  Whether he gets among the medals or not, however, the sprinter could already be considering what’s next.

“I am very excited to associate with Sony Sports as an expert panelist on their live wrap-around studio show, SPORTS EXTRAAA, and take fans closer to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.  Not only will the viewers in India watch me proudly represent my country at the Games but they will also watch me provide insights on the performance of the world's finest on the grand stage,” Blake told South Asian news agency ANI.

The programs will be broadcast all across India.

 

 Jamaica gymnast, Danusia Francis, will be unable to compete in the majority of her scheduled events for the Tokyo Olympics after suffering a torn ACL.

Francis, the country’s lone competitor in Artistic Gymnastics, was scheduled to take part in the four-event Women’s All-Round competition on Sunday.

After suffering a knee injury, however, the 27-year has had to alter those plans.  The results of an MRI, taken in the Olympic Village on Friday, showed that the damage to the joint was worse than hoped for.

As a result, Francis will only be able to compete on the Uneven Bars, which is the apparatus that is least likely to cause further damage to the injured joint.  That means the athlete will skip the Vault, Balance Beam, and Floor exercises.

Francis is the second female gymnast to represent Jamaica at the Olympic Games following in the footsteps of Toni-Ann Williams, who at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was the first female gymnast to compete for Jamaica at the Olympics.

The gymnast was able to qualify for the Games based on her performance at the 2019 World Championships.  She finished among the top 20 athletes who were not on a qualifying team. She ranked ninth in the group of competitors.

The Jamaican sprinter is looking for her third Olympic 100m gold.

Former 100m world record holder and Olympic champion Donovan Bailey believes Jamaica’s women could sweep the blue ribband event in Tokyo.

Heading into the women’s 100m, it is the Jamaican trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson who have clocked the fastest times over the distance this year.

Out front, is reigning world champion and two-time winner of the event Fraser-Pryce, with her best time of 10.63, which was recorded last month.  The time was the second-fastest time ever recorded over the distance and fastest in 33 years.

Next up, reigning Olympic champion Thompson-Herah has a season-best of 10.71, a run that she recorded a few weeks ago.  American sprinter Sha’carri Richardson is next on the world's top list with her time of 10.72, which was recorded in April.  Richardson will, however, miss out on the Games after testing positive for marijuana last month.

Jackson, formerly a 400m specialist, had a breakout performance in the sprints last month where she recorded a personal best of 10.77, at the country’s national trials where she was second behind Fraser-Pryce.  The fourth-fastest this year, by an athlete, and certainly puts the 27-year-old firmly in the conversation.

“The women’s 100m will be won by Shelly-Ann Fraser, that's my personal favourite.  I really think Jamaica has the opportunity to sweep.  I think Shericka Jackson has something up her sleeve,” Bailey said during the SportsMax.Tv special series Great Ones.

“We know Elaine will be there, but I think Shelly-Ann is going to get up and keep Elaine out, but I think Shericka Jackson has something for somebody,” he added.

In addition to their fast times this season, all three Jamaicans have the experience of standing on the medal podium.  Fraser-Pryce won the event at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while Thompson-Herah won the 2016 edition.  It will be Jackson’s first time competing at the event, but she claimed a bronze medal in the 400m at the 2016 Rio Games.

“I was looking forward to this race because I really wanted to see Sha’Carri Richardson under the spotlight with the greatest sprinters of this generation.  I was looking forward to that,” Bailey said.

“The men’s final is open but the women’s final for me is a little more straightforward.  When the lights shine bright, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will not back down.”

Jamaica long jumper Tajay Gayle looks set to add an Olympic medal to the gold he won at the 2019 edition of the World Athletics Championship in Doha.

The Jamaica national champion’s best distance this year is 8.29, well short of the 8.60 recorded by world leader, Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou in May.

However, track and field analyst and SportsMax.tv Tokyo Take host Leighton Levy believes the jumper's improvements in other areas will make him a force to be reckoned with when he faces the field in Tokyo.

“I think Gayle is going to fly in the long jump and be among the medals, gold even,” Levy said on this week’s episode. (See full episode below)

“His improved speed is an asset and once he makes the adjustments on the runway for that additional speed, we are in for a spectacular performance from Gayle.”

The jumper has, in fact, shown off plenty of improved speed after recording new personal bests in both the 60m and 100m sprints this season.  Gayle ran 6.78 in the later in February but was even more impressive in the 100, clocking 10.18 to shave huge chunks off his previous personal best of 10.74.  Gayle’s personal best of 8.69, in the long jump, was set in 2019.

Novak Djokovic has admitted he is still "50/50" over whether he will take part in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus countermeasures put in place in the Japanese capital.

The world number one made history on Sunday by beating Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final to match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam titles.

Djokovic has won all three majors in 2021 and recently suggested he would represent Serbia at this year's Olympics, with the tennis tournament due to begin on July 24.

However, with organisers this week confirming spectators will be banned from attending events in Tokyo amid rising coronavirus cases, Djokovic is unsure if he will travel to Japan.

"My plan was always to go to Olympic Games, but right now I'm a little bit divided," he said after his sixth Wimbledon triumph. 

"I also hear that there's going to be a lot of restrictions within the [Athletes'] Village. Possibly you would not be able to see other athletes perform live. 

"I can't even have my stringer that is very important part of my team. I can't have a stringer. I'm limited with the amount of people I can take in my team as well.

"It's kind of 50-50 because of what I heard in the last couple days."

 

Djokovic has competed at the Games on three previous occasions, but unlike Nadal and Federer he has never previously claimed a gold medal, the bronze he won in 2008 being the best the 34-year-old has managed.

Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Roberto Bautista Agut, Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kyrgios, Simona Halep and Serena Williams have previously confirmed they will not play at the Olympics.

Switzerland's Federer, who won gold in the men's doubles in Beijing 13 years ago, has yet to make a decision on his participation.

2011 World Champion Yohan Blake clocked his fastest time this year after winning the men’s 100m at Friday’s American Track League in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 31-year-old got a solid start before putting away the field to finish in a time of 9.95.  The Jamaican was the only athlete in the field to dip below 10 seconds.

American Elijah Hall was second in 10.08 and his compatriot Kyree King third in 10.12.  Another Caribbean athlete in the race, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Jason Rodgers was fifth in 10.26.  Another Jamaican, Javoy Tucker finished eighth in 10.35.

Blake finished in second position at his country’s national trials two weeks ago but has vowed to leave the Olympic Games later this month with a medal.  The sprinter, who has the second-fastest time recorded over both the 100m and 200m was excited by his performance with the Olympics just a few weeks away.

“I am very excited about the time; give God thanks,” said Blake.

“This is going to be my last Olympic, and I am looking forward to it. Definitely, I am not leaving that stadium (Tokyo 2020) without a medal.”

Naomi Osaka wants "some level of privacy and empathy" from the media when she returns to action and says she "could not be more excited" to play in the Olympics.

Osaka has not played since withdrawing from the French Open after revealing she would skip press conferences at Roland Garros as "people have no regard for athletes' mental health".

The four-time grand slam champion from Japan revealed she had suffered "long bouts of depression" since winning the US Open in 2018.

Osaka says she has not changed her stance on press conferences and feels she had been unfairly scrutinised.

The world number two wrote in Time magazine: "I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health. I stand by that.

"Athletes are humans. Tennis is our privileged profession, and of course there are commitments off the court that coincide. But I can't imagine another profession where a consistent attendance record [I have missed one press conference in my seven years on tour] would be so harshly scrutinised.

"Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions.

"In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it's not habitual. You wouldn't have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.

"In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms - frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me. I do not wish that on anyone and hope that we can enact measures to protect athletes, especially the fragile ones.

"I also do not want to have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history ever again. So I ask the press for some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet."

 

Osaka is feeling the benefits of a break and is relishing representing her country in the Olympics on home soil in Tokyo.

"After taking the past few weeks to recharge and spend time with my loved ones, I have had the time to reflect, but also to look forward," the 23-year-old said. 

"I could not be more excited to play in Tokyo. An Olympic Games itself is special, but to have the opportunity to play in front of the Japanese fans is a dream come true. I hope I can make them proud."

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