Hot shooting from Manhattan Jaspers forward, Warren Williams, provided just a drop in the bucket as Jamaica suffered a lopsided 52-94 defeat at the hands of Nicaragua, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Central American and Caribbean Pre-Qualifiers on Saturday.

Williams was an immovable force on the low block, as he scored 24 points off 63 percent shooting, and was just shy of a double-double after also grabbing 9 rebounds.  He was, however, the only Jamaica player in the line-up to get to double figures.

The effort was dwarfed by the Nicaraguan trio of Jared Ruiz, Norchad Omier, and Larel Pacheco.  Ruiz led the way with 26 points but also filled out the rest of the stat sheet with 9 rebounds and 5 assists.  Omier and Pacheco were perfect from the field, scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively.  Omier also grabbed 13 rebounds to register a useful double-double.

The Central Americans got off to a strong start and found themselves leading the Caribbean team 27-11 at the end of the first quarter and led 49-21 by halftime, before cruising the rest of the way to victory.

The loss was the first of the tournament for the Jamaicans, who recorded a 69-67 win over Costa Rica in their opener and a 107-87 win over Guyana.

 

Jamaica Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, coasted to victory in the women’s 100m at the Velocity Fest meet, at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Thompson-Herah crossed the line in section one of the event, in a time of 11.21, well clear of Sprintec’s Remona Mitchell who was second in 11.35.  Thompson-Herah’s MVP teammate Natasha Morrison took third overall after winning section 2 in a time of 11.41.

In the men’s equivalent, former world record holder Asafa Powell was forced to settle for third spot after crossing the line in 10.48.  MVP’s Nigel Stewart took the top spot with a time of 10.39, just ahead of Sprintec’s Rodney Brendon who clocked 10.40.

In the women’s 200m, decorated multiple champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the event after crossing the line in 22.66, winning section 2 ahead of Stephanie McPherson who was second in 22.90.  Section one winner Brianna Lyston was third overall in 23.28.

The men’s equivalent was won by Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes who destroyed the competition after recording 20.14.  Sprintech’s Romario Williams was second in 20.59, with Petersfield Antonio Williams third in 20.70.

In the women’s 400m, first place went to Sprint Tech’s Ronda Whyte, who finished first in 51.28.  Second place went to UWI Mona’s Candice McCleod (51.56) with Roneisha McGregor taking third in 52.06.

Jamaica discus thrower, Shadae Lawrence, registered a fourth consecutive win after taking first place at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational meet on Friday.

Lawrence recorded a distance of 57.86m, finishing well clear of the rest of the field.  Finishing in second was the University of Miami’s Kristina Rakočević who recorded 51.80m, with Jalani Davis (Ole Miss) third with a distance of 51.32.

The win for the Jamaican national record holder follows up on a victory last week at the USA Track & Field (USATF) Sprint Summit.  Elsewhere, former Jamaica College jumper Clayton Brown also claimed the top spot in the men’s high jump.  Brown took first place with a leap of 2.21m, ahead of Old Miss’ Allen Gordon who took second in 2.16m.  Third place went to Louisville’s Trey Allen who recorded 2.11m.

In the Men's 200 Dash Olympic Development Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards clocked 20.30 to secure second place, behind the United States’ Fred Kerley who took the top spot in 20.24.  Erriyon Knighton was third in 20.39.

Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Nicole McClure has signed on to become an assistant coach at US Ivy League’s Princeton University. There she will work along with head coach Sean Driscoll and Mike Poller.

The eight-time Olympic champion and 11-times world champion Usain Bolt is among nine elite athletes who have partnered with fitness company Peloton for its newly released Champions Collection.

Peloton Interactive, Inc. is an exercise equipment and media company that allows monthly subscribers to remotely participate in classes via streaming media.

Inside Hook reported on Wednesday that Peloton announced the Champions Collection for which it was partnering with the likes of Bolt, tennis star Angelique Kerber, surfer John John Florence, Allyson Felix and Andre De Grasse, Paralympic long jumper Scout Bassett, Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie, and former world-record-holding swimmer Kathleen Baker.

According to the online publication, athletes will likely not become formal instructors but will probably have pages built out on the platform, where subscribers can follow along with their favourite workouts or playlists.

 

Australia Open champion, Naomi Osaka, has described watching Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt performing at the Olympics as her most memorable moment.

Bolt, who retired from the sport of track and field in 2017, will not be competing at the Games in Tokyo this summer but in many ways still looms large over a sport he dominated for close to a decade.

At the 2016 Rio Games, the last time the event was held, Bolt destroyed the field in typical fashion, en route to three gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m.  On debut, at the 2008 Beijing Games, Bolt set massive world records in both the 100m and 200m sprints.

Overall, Bolt finished his csareer with 8 Olympic gold medals.  With such dominant performances, it is little wonder that Osaka, who has Caribbean roots herself with her father hailing from the island of Haiti, enjoyed watching the Jamaican in his prime.  Osaka, who is likely to attempt to win a gold medal for Japan this summer, recently shared what the quadrennial event has meant to her over the years.

“When I think of the Olympics, what comes to mind is, of course, the opening ceremony, just seeing all the people being so happy,” Osaka said in an interview posted on the ITF official website.

“My like most outstanding Olympic memory is just watching Bolt run. He’s my favorite athlete and for my whole family. My dad really loves his running so we would just like to watch him.”

Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, Olympic and World Championships 400m bronze medalist and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell have been named to a Jamaican selection that has named to participate in the World Relays set for May 1-2 in Chorzow, Poland.

Former Jamaica U-23 and Montego Bay United forward, Deshane Beckford, is expected to join USL Championship club Colorado Switchbacks on a season-long loan.

The move will mark the second for the Jamaica national over the past several years, after first joining the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at the end of 2019.  Beckford also spent the 2020 season with the Toros.

In 22 USL Championship appearances, the forward has scored three goals.  Brown put himself on the radar of the USL after a strong performance at the 2019 Pan American Games where he scored three goals for Jamaica in three games.  The forward also previously represented Jamaica at the U-17 level.

The move remains dependent on the player renewing a work visa, but Beckford expressed delight with the opportunity to continue plying his trade in the US second division.

 “I'm grateful to be a part of the Switchbacks, the players and staff have been really positive,” Beckford told USL Championship.com.

 “I'm excited for the upcoming season.”

The 23-year-old previously trialed for West Ham in 2015.  Colorado Springs coach Brendan Burke welcomed Beckford’s addition to the line-up.

“Deshane is a player that impressed us immensely during his performance with the Jamaican U23 team in the Pan American Games,” Burke said.

“His pace, soft feet, and nose for goal should add another weapon to our still-evolving group of forwards.”

Jamaica hurdler Damion Thomas believes he is finally firmly back on the right track after several recent seasons where he was plagued by injuries and indifferent form.

The 21-year-old Louisiana State University student registered his first NCAA title this past indoor season and last month continued that form with brilliant hurdling, which saw him clock a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) at the Texas Relays.

The efforts mark a comeback of sorts for Thomas who tied the U20 world record in the 110-meter hurdles, after running 12.99 over the 39-inch height at the 2018 Jamaican Junior Championships. He then followed up the record-breaking moment by winning gold at the World U20 Championships.

A quadriceps injury during the 2019 season, however, hampered the hurdler's efforts to build on a promising start to his collegiate career and, of course, in 2020, the global pandemic saw sports grind to a halt for several months.

 "I'd say last year's coronavirus [pandemic] shutting down the season was probably more heartbreaking than my sophomore year and the injuries," Thomas said in an interview with Milesplit USA.

"I felt healthy, training was going so well into the meet and then they shut it down for everybody. Right after that meeting, I remember all of us just going to one room and we literally were staring out the window. 'Like dang this is crazy.'"

 The athlete, however, managed to use the quarantine period to his advantage, putting work into honing his technique.  He has emerged from the hiatus as strong and sharp as ever and is so far a big favourite to secure a spot on the Jamaica Olympic squad later this year.

"It feels good to know that I'm on the right path," Thomas said of his resurgence.

“I think the big thing now is ... not to be complacent and continue to look at the flaws in my race to see where I can get better. I want to stay hungry and continue to feel like an underdog. Even though I'm world-leading, that doesn't mean anything going forward."

 

Retied Jamaica international, Fitzroy Simpson, has called for the return of the spirit of togetherness for the Reggae Boyz, expressing the hope that the current squad can go on to match the exploits of his historic 1998 unit.

Up until recently, some members of the Jamaica national team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) were embroiled in a bitter contractual dispute, which saw several members of the team unavailable for the Caribbean team’s clash against the United States last month.

With the dispute now settled, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming later this year, Simpson is urging both parties to come together.

“Unity is so important,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Irish Mirror.

“The set-up now has to be unified and improvements made on the business side,” he added.

Simpson was one of several English-based players to join the Jamaica national team ahead of their historic qualification for the World Cup in France.  The former Manchester City and Portsmouth player started all three games at the tournament and has fond memories of not just playing at the final itself but also the build-up.

“It was breathtaking.  It was the greatest honour in my playing career to lead Jamaica to history,” Simpson said.

“I remember my mother, my brother, and my uncle in the stadium when we qualified.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what we had achieved because Jamaica wasn't recognised as a footballing nation.  The whole country really drove us on, the support was incredible.”

 

 

Jamaica international Liam Moore has vowed to quit social media after being the subject of vile abuse earlier this week. 

The Reading captain was the target of a poll that posed the racist question “Should a n***** be captain of Reading FC?" The account has since been deleted.

In response, Moore also laid the blame at the feet of the social media platform.  The issue has once again been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

"2021 and I'm not ****ing surprised in the slightest. Twitter you're as much to blame for making it so easy to abuse people,” he tweeted.

 Earlier this week, Swansea announced that they would not take part in any social media activity for two weeks, following the abuse of another Jamaica international Jamal Lowe.  They were joined in protest by Scottish club Rangers.  Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had also previously announced the decision to delete his social media accounts in a bid to direct attention to the issue.

While pointing out that he had enjoyed interacting with the fans via social media, Moore denoted the environment to be an increasingly toxic one.

"I have enjoyed engaging with many of you on here over the years but tonight was just another example of Twitter being toxic,” he added.

"You have to stand for something and for that reason I am deactivating my account. Thanks for your support."

 

Jamaica international and Swansea forward, Jamal Lowe, believes an end to the ability to be completely anonymous on social media platforms could go a long way in helping to combat racism online and hate speech.

The 26-year-old player found himself the target of racist online abuse following the team’s loss to Birmingham City last weekend.  The forward was the third Swansea player since February to suffer the issue.

In response, Swansea announced that the club would boycott any social media-related activities for two weeks.  They were joined in the effort by Scottish club Rangers.  The player hopes the effort will at least bring more attention to the issue or push social media platforms towards a response.

The issue of the right to online anonymity has provoked fierce debate since the early days of the internet.  At current, individuals are not required to provide identification in order to sign up for accounts, Lowe believes that could part of the issue.

“At the moment, no one knows who is abusing any of us,” Lowe told Sky Sports.

“You’ve got an Instagram account, or a Twitter account or whatever when you sign up, put your email address in, put your national insurance number in or your passport number in, your driver’s license number, something that can identify you as a person,” he added.

“Something that can be linked back to who you really are and not just a page you created in five minutes, send some abuse and delete it because that’s a never-ending story.”

 

The Jamaican government will provide more than JMD$45 million in direct financial support to athletes preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The global pandemic has been frustrating for many athletes, who have been unable to compete and consequently earn their keep. However, for some it is an opportunity to hone their craft, to become even better than they were before.

Such is the case of World Championship silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts, who uncorked a world-leading 14.63m triple jump at the National Stadium in Kingston on March 20.

The mark was 13cm shy of her best ever opener of 14.76m in 2019, and 30cm off her personal best, but it was an early indication of how much she had worked to improve in the time she was unable to compete in 2020 because of the many cancellations of track and field meets as the Covid-19 virus raced across the world.

Ricketts, who turned 29 in February, had one of her best jumps at the World Championships in Doha where she produced a 14.92m effort to secure a silver medal behind Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas.

Now finally competing again, she expects to go even farther this year, maybe even getting closer to the Venezuelan, who won gold with her best jump of 15.37m.

Rickett’s confidence comes from the work that she and her coach and husband Kerrylee Ricketts have been putting in during their ‘down time’, and based on past experience, the likelihood that it will bear fruit.

“My step phase has improved since last year. The triple jump is very technical, so we are aiming to improve as many aspects of the jump as possible in order to surpass my personal best,” she said.

“Training is very different from competition, so it takes a while to get the hang of competing and getting back into top shape. We do our best to assimilate a competition-type environment in training so that it does not feel foreign once we begin to compete.

“It is definitely challenging to navigate from training to competition but proper preparation builds confidence and makes the transition more comfortable. The extra time gave us a chance to work on improving my strength and sprinting mechanics which are essential in doing well.”

The uncertainty of the season has impacted her ability to compete more frequently and bring those elements perfected in training to competition. However, once she gets the chance, jumping beyond 15m could be a lot closer to reality.

“I am pleased with where I am at this stage of the season. I am hoping to jump far this year, and I know that once I got the technical aspects of the jump correct, the distances will come,” she said.

“I am not in peak shape right now so I know that I will be able to produce bigger jumps as the season progresses.”

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

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