Jamaica Olympian Maurice Smith has released a song, Revolution, which he says is his way of adding his voice to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement sweeping the globe as well as speaking out against the crime and violence in his homeland.

Last week one of the cable channels was showing the 2016 documentary 'I am Bolt', which captured what was happening behind the scenes with Usain Bolt, in his own words, from 2008 to his final appearance at the Olympics in 2016.

Over the course of those three Olympic Games, Bolt won nine gold medals (the 2008 relay medal was stripped) in what was one of the most dominant eras by any athlete in track and field. I had a full plate of work before me but I was not able to pull myself away even though I had already watched it, maybe four or five times already.

It still gave me goosebumps watching Bolt’s career finally take off the way many of us expected, setting world records and winning gold medals and exciting track and field fans like no one had ever seen before.

It is a critical piece of the sport’s history and Jamaica's history as well.

Before the Bolt era, there were not that many books written about Jamaica’s track and field athletes and there have been many of the latter.

For a country its size, Jamaica has produced so many superstar athletes, it belies imagination. Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, Lennox Miller, Marilyn Neufville, Donald Quarrie, Jackie Pusey, Merlene Ottey, Raymond Stewart, James Beckford, Sandie Richards, Juliet Cuthbert, Winthrop Graham, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Beverly McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Asafa Powell; the list goes on and on.

However, by comparison, so little has been documented of their respective careers.

The time has come for us to commission the production of documentaries that will provide archival material on what has been the greatest era of the country’s prowess.

From the current era alone VCB, Shelly, Melaine Walker, Omar McLeod, Sherone Simpson, and more have set records that have become necessary to document.

Not all will be a 107-minute long piece like 'I am Bolt'. The respective stories will determine their own lengths, but it is important that we have these athletes tell us their stories.

These athletes are living history and we should not wait until they are gone to have someone else tell their stories. They should be telling us their stories. VCB and Fraser-Pryce, for example, have some compelling stories to tell.

What do we do with these documentaries?

Well, the government is building a sports museum. These documentaries would be playing on big screens as be part of any tour by those interested in Jamaica’s sporting history. Copies should also be at the National Library to be used in a similar fashion.

The Ministry of Sports should have its own YouTube channel where each of these documentaries is always available to the public for general knowledge, research and similar pursuits.

This undertaking should not be limited to track and field, however.

Alia Atkinson, Chris Binnie, Ali McNabb, Lindy Delaphena, our boxers Mike McCallum, Richard Clarke, Trevor Berbick, Simon Brown, Nicholas Walters are others worthy of being documented.

As time passes, we should not be searching all over the place, oftentimes unsuccessfully, to find data on Jamaica’s incredible sporting history. Our ancestors used to pass knowledge along verbally. We have built statues to honour some of our sporting greats, the time is nigh for us to have more than just images cast in stone.

 

 

Olympic relay gold medallist Michael Frater said it hurt him badly that he had to give up the gold medal he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics because of a teammate was determined to have been taking a prohibited substance.

In the wake of his success at the just-concluded Sweet and Simply Jamaican Virtual Run, triathlete Phillip McCatty is not very optimistic about competing for the remainder of 2020.

Jamaican triathlete Phillip McCatty won three of four events to dominate the Sweet and Simply Jamaican Virtual Run that concluded on Tuesday, June 16.

Joe Hunt, International Projects Manager at English Premier League Club Wolverhampton Wanderers, believes finding their own identity is the best way for Caribbean countries to climb the international football ladder.

 Hunt, who currently oversees projects in North America, Asia, and Europe insists that merely copying what the best teams in the world are doing may not be the best fit for countries in the region.

 He pointed out that even his own country, England, has been guilty of thinking along those lines in the past.

 “When the French won in ’98 everyone wanted to copy the French, England tried. When Germany won the World Cup, everyone wanted to copy Germany. When Belgium produced all these players everyone wanted to copy Belgium. We are none of them, we are English so it’s about time that they developed a pathway that suited English players,” Hunt told The Commentators podcast.

 “Overall you got to have your own identity – how you want to play –what’s going to suit your players when you step into the elite arena.”

 Hunt was a guest on The Commentators Podcast with Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver. Listen to the full episode.

Most people would jump at the chance of getting a second crack at getting something they initially get wrong, right. Veronica Campbell-Brown, one of the most successful female sprinters in history, is no different.

The 2004 Athens Olympics was my second watching on television but my first really understanding the stories behind the athletes who were representing my country.

Like the athletes had worked for four years, so had I in trying to understand the ins and outs of the sport.

I was only 14 years old, so there was still a lot to learn but I had by then learnt very well the name Veronica Campbell.

By this time the precocious talent from Clarke’s Town in Trelawny had already won the IAAF World Youth 100 metres title in 1999 and the IAAF World Under-20 sprint double in 2000.

Those achievements were sandwiched by a silver medal as part of Jamaica’s sprint relay team at the Sydney Olympics when she was only 18 years old.

Injuries in 2001 and 2003 delayed her senior World Championship debut but between that, she won a silver medal over 100 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester England in 2002.

The warning signs get louder

As early as the indoor season of 2004 Veronica served warnings she would be a major force on the global scene even with a potentially long collegiate season for the University of Arkansas in prospect. 

She won the NCAA Indoor title over 200 metres, speeding to 22.43 seconds, and sending a strong signal to her competitors.

After a string of quality performances indoors and out, the former Barton County Community College athlete chose to forego the NCAA Outdoor Division One Championships to focus on her Olympic quest.

It was a master move by Campbell and her team as she took the professional route.    

I remember a particular race at the Weltklasse Golden League in Zurich, Switzerland. It was a stacked 100 metres field with Veronica Campbell among the principals.

Before the race, renowned commentator Stuart Storey said he thought the new Jamaican star could “win the Olympic title”.

Campbell finished fourth on that day, beaten by France’s Christine Aaron, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas and her Jamaican compatriot Aleen Bailey.

Storey then explained that Veronica was much better at 200 metres and that is where he favoured her for Olympic Gold.

He was right.

Around my community I listened to pot covers beating, doors and walls knocking, jumping as Veronica became the first Caribbean woman to win either a 100 or 200 Gold at the Olympic Games.

I have watched that race dozens of times since, whether it be to the stunning Caribbean voice that is Lance Whittaker or NBC’s Carol Lewis exclaiming Veronica’s devastating curve running.

For Jamaicans, the moment was massive.

The cycle of Jamaicans like Merlene Ottey, Grace Jackson and Juliet Cuthbert playing second fiddle to American and European sprinters had been broken.

The Caribbean, Jamaica had its Golden queen.

She also anchored the sprint relay team to Gold which meant she was involved in three of Jamaica’s five medals, having taken bronze in the 100 metres.

With the subsequent success that Jamaica has had, led by the legendary Usain Bolt and including women like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Elaine Thompson or the unforgettable work done by Merlene Ottey before them, it might be easy, especially for the new generation of athletics fans to miss the tremendous contribution of Veronica.

But she is truly among the greatest we have ever seen.

Will to excel on show

Her 2008 successful Olympic title defence was special, but it was her performance at the Jamaican Championships that year that will forever be etched in my mind.

Now bearing the name Campbell-Brown after her marriage to fellow Jamaican sprinter Omar Brown, she entered the Jamaican Olympic trials as the favourite for the sprint double but the world was shaken when she only placed fourth in the 100 metres despite a super-fast 10.88-second clocking.

A day later, she had to return for the 200 metres. Her Olympic aspirations hinged on that one race.

She also had to take on the three women who beat her in the 100: Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Sherone Simpson.

She did more than take them on, she beat them convincingly, clocking, still the fastest ever 200 time on Jamaican soil, 21.94 seconds.

Maybe that singular focus helped her to defend her title in Beijing and become only the second woman to defend the Olympic half-lap title.

As it stands, we will never know.

What we do know is that she produced another scintillating curve run and took Gold in a lifetime best, 21.74 seconds.

Veronica Campbell-Brown or VCB as she is now affectionately called has won eight global titles across World Championships, indoors and out and the Olympic Games.

She has a further 10 silver and 3 bronze medals, not counting her multiple global medals at the Youth and Junior levels.

She has always had a shy demeanour, but her desire to be the best has never been in question.

Outside of that tremendous run at the Jamaican Championship in 2008, VCB’s last global individual medal is also one that sticks to the memory.

In 2015 she was having a less-than-impressive year by her lofty standards.

She placed fourth in the 100 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

In the 200 metres, she squeezed into the final as a fastest loser, almost labouring to 22.47 seconds.

It was only the sixth-fastest going into the championship race but importantly, her fastest time since the London 2012 Olympics.

After that semi-final, it felt as if Veronica had long past her best or anywhere close to it.

One last great run

But she had, what one might describe as one last great run, and on that night in Beijing she produced it.

From lane two, she powered around the bend like the Veronica of old. Her knocked knees, a glorious reminder of her greatest days.

The curve was vintage VCB as she inched clear of favourites Daphne Schippers of the Netherlands and Elaine Thompson, who was at the time Jamaica’s newest female sprinting sensation.

The old Veronica might have taken them to the line and snatched Gold, but not on that night in Beijing.

She could no longer hold her speed through 200 metres but still, it was one of her great runs as she crossed the line third in 21.97 seconds.

It was the first time she had broken 22 seconds since the 2010 season and she hasn’t done it since, more sharp reminders of what a miracle run it was.

It might do an injustice to her amazing legacy to speak much about her injury-plagued years beyond 2015.

In any case, there might be more to come as she hopes to qualify for a sixth Olympics come the rescheduled Games in Tokyo 2021.

But if Veronica never steps foot on a track again, her legacy will be sealed.

When she defended her Olympic title in 2008, a local TV reporter, Damion Gordon wrote, “Like wine to a party, Veronica Campbell-Brown is synonymous with athletics greatness.”

That, my friend, is how VCB should be remembered and spoken of – because she is now and always will be athletics greatness.

 

Ricardo Chambers has done Commentary on international track and field, cricket and Netball since 2010. He has also done local football commentary. For feedback you can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Manchester United are said to be ready to turn their attention to Bayer Leverkusen Jamaica international Leon Bailey, if deals for two main targets, Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Aston Villa's Jack Grealish, fail to materialize.

United head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reported to be keen on adding an attacking midfielder to his ranks ahead of next season, but the uncertainty of the coronavirus market and expense of Grealish and Sancho could make the Jamaican a more attractive prospect.

Bailey has had a stop-start kind of season, halted by injury and other issues, for Leverkusen after an eye-catching introduction to German football two seasons ago.  While the player remains sought after in the market, some believe his price tag now falls in the £40 million range.  This could make the player a more palatable option than Sancho and Grealish who are likely to eclipse the £100 million mark.

Bailey signed for Leverkusen from Belgian side Genk in 2017.  He's made 110 appearances across all competitions for the club, scoring 24 times.  His best campaign came in 2017-18 when he netted nine goals and provided six assists.   

In 19 Bundesliga appearances this season, Bailey has five goals.  The player has, however, lost his regular spot in the starting lineup under coach Peter Bosz.  He has three years remaining on his current contract.

Internationally, Bailey made his senior debut for the Reggae Boyz in 2019 and has been capped six times.

 

 

Veronica Campbell-Brown, one of the all-time greats of female sprinting, has revealed that she forged her talents in the intense furnace of competition that is the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships, arguably the biggest high school track meet on the planet.

Bahamian sprint star Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Jamaica’s Omar McLeod are set to be in action next month at the Weltklasse Zurich’s Inspiration Games exhibition event on July 9.

The cross-continent meeting will involve 30 athletes competing in eight disciplines across seven stadia. Athletes will compete in teams, with a Europe squad going up against teams from the USA and the rest of the world.

In the 150m, Miller-Uibo of Bahamas will race in Miramar, Florida, against USA’s six-time Olympic gold medallist Felix in Walnut, California, and Switzerland’s world bronze medallist Kambundji in Zurich.

Meanwhile, McLeod will take on Andre DeGrasse and Andre Vicaut in a 100-yard dash.

 Dalilah Muhammad will battle Léa Sprunger in a 300m hurdles and Katerina Stefanidi and Sandi Morris will contest the pole vault.

Noah Lyles and Alex Wilson take on the 200m and Christian Taylor goes up against Omar Craddock and Pablo Pichardo in the triple jump.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has come out in support of the decision of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) to provide additional funding to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in facilitating their preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games that were postponed to next year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Two hundred and six national Olympic committees worldwide stand to benefit from the initiative that is expected to be managed through the five Continental Associations and ANOC, with the assistance of Olympic Solidarity.

ANOC has assured National Olympic Committees that it stands in solidarity with them in recognising the adverse financial implications triggered by the pandemic, and in safeguarding the welfare of athletes and all stakeholders.

 "It is a decision that signals empathetic understanding. It is a confidence vote in the ability and capacity of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to repurpose plans, goals and objectives. But more importantly, it is an act of humanity and integrity and a demonstration of the Olympic spirit," said JOA President Christopher Samuda.

The decision was made in the wake of a conference involving ANOC President, Robin Mitchell, ANOC Secretary General Gunilla Lindberg, ANOC executives and Olympic Solidarity Director James MacLeod, and will provide support on a case-by-case basis to be determined by governing criteria.

"This is sport responding dynamically and in a practical way without self-serving interests but with sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of stakeholders who are facing the challenges of the current times but who, despite the crisis, have the conviction to stay in the game, to play the game and to transform the game for this and the next generations of sportsmen and sportswomen," Samuda said.

Premier Caribbean men’s squash player, Chris Binnie, has earned high marks from the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for his professionalism and humility, among other things, as sports’ governing body here highlighted his ascent in the racquet sports global standings.

Binnie, the record-holder of nine Caribbean singles championship titles, improved his World Squash Federation rankings in singles to 76th in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted play on the Professional Squash Association circuit. Binnie is also ranked 36th in doubles globally and 13th in the Americas region.

Commenting on his rise, Ryan Foster, CEO/Secretary General of sports’ apex sporting body, said: "The JOA is extremely proud of the recent rise in the world rankings of Chris Binnie. His hard work is a testimony to dedication and perseverance and we want to also congratulate the Jamaica Squash Association for their diligence in ensuring the success of their constituent member.

"Chris is the epitomè of a true professional, one of integrity, fair play and humility, all characters which represent Olympism. These traits led us to elect Chris to be the flagbearer for the recently held Panam Games in 2019. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with squash and all our member associations while we continue to lead the movement within our country,” added Foster.

The 31-year-old Jamaican’s improvement represented a major comeback, as Binnie played his way to a career-high world ranking of 65 in 2018, but fell to 88th in 2019 when he was beset by injuries.

Reflecting on the turnaround, Binnie said: “I was excited to start moving back up the rankings again. It (2019) was obviously a difficult year … I was plagued with injuries so my ranking definitely fell a bit. But last fall and early this spring before the coronavirus set in, I was doing really well. I had won a couple of events and I was moving back up the rankings, so I was very excited and looking forward, to once the Tour does start back, to get back out there and continue to do that.”

Prior to the shutdown, Binnie was successful in winning the Life Time Atlanta Open in Sandy Springs, in February and the Pittsburgh Challenger series in January. In December also, he was a member of the Jamaica team that placed 18th at the World Team Squash Championships in December and at the Panam Games in Lima, Peru in 2019, he partnered with Lewis Walters to make the quarter-finals.

Asked about the impact of the pandemic, Binnie said: “Yes, COVID is a big setback, but it’s a big setback for everybody, so I’ll try to use this time positively to help in other areas that I wouldn’t normally have time for and then I can build on that and help with my success once I’m back in competition mode.”

The prospects of competition returning appear encouraging with the resumption - and approved dates for a restart - for a number of big competitions, primarily the German Bundesliga and other top European leagues including Spain’s La Liga and the United Kingdom’s English Premier League, in football, as well as the United States’ National Basketball Association (NBA).

As he competes largely on the international PSA circuit, due to associated costs, Binnie was asked to comment on the support provided by the JOA.

“The support from the JOA obviously I’m incredibly grateful for it. Without them, it’d be very difficult to do what I do. I’m just very thankful that they’ve been on board and they’ve been helping me over the years getting ready in these smaller competitions – Panam, CAC and Caribbeans where I’ve been meddling and also on the Pro Tour where they’ve continued to help with my development,” said Binnie.

“I can’t thank them enough, (their support) it’s been invaluable and I hope that they can continue to do that. They’re definitely branching out support in many different sports now, that’s fantastic to see. I’m happy that they’re continuing to stick with me, even in the ups and the downs. Last year was a tough year and now I’m back on track so hopefully, things will continue to go well,” added Binnie.

Under the leadership of Christopher Samuda, its President, the JOA has ramped up its earning capacity in recent years, enabling their ability in contributing to its body of local sporting affiliates. Foster explained the nature of their support to squash.

"Some two years ago the JOA and the Jamaica Squash Association expanded their partnership to include the financial support to improve the sport within the country, as well as to increase the participation of their athletes in local and international competitions and we have seen the successes of this during the Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and PanAm Games," Foster outlined.

"We also extended our support directly to Chris in his preparations leading up to tournaments which have had obvious direct impact on his rise in world rankings."

As he continues to rise, Binnie is at looking at other horizons and primarily, the hope that his sport will soon make it to the Olympics.

“The Olympics is an interesting topic. There was a bid to get it into the 2020 Olympic Games and that, unfortunately, lost out … so it’s obviously looking for the next Games after that. So thankfully this (Tokyo 2020 postponement) doesn’t affect me as much and it’s more about focusing on the World Tour to get my ranking up so that later on when the Olympics do become an option I’ll be ready to perform.”

 

 

Donovan Bailey, the 1996 Olympic champion and former 100-metre world record holder, believes Canada has to confront its own issues of racism.

Retired Jamaica international Marlon King recently expressed regret about a checkered and sordid past but insists he can only face up to it and admit his mistakes.

During his time as a footballer, King had his fair share of headlines on the pitch, but they were routinely dwarfed by legal issues that occurred off it. The former Watford and Birmingham striker has three separate jail sentences and a litany of other offenses, which include theft, criminal damage, fraudulent use of vehicle license document, driving without insurance and drink driving.  But even by those standards, the sexual and physical assault of a young woman who rejected his advances at a nightclub in the Soho area of London was a low point.

The 2009 sexual assault case saw King's playing contract cancelled by then club Wigan, after he was convicted of groping the woman in a bar and then breaking her nose. Since then, the former player has moved to Zambia with his wife and three children and admits he is genuinely remorseful about his past.

“I’m sorry for what happened, especially to the young lady and to my family members for letting them down. But I’m at a point now where I can look back and think, ‘Jesus Christ. Some of the decisions I made’,” King said in an interview with The Athletic
.“I can’t get back what I did. That’s the thing. I can’t go back,” King said.
“Everything I’ve done is public knowledge. I can’t run away from it, so I can’t sit here and say, ‘No, I did this. I did that’. It has taken me years to try and figure myself out and work on myself.

“I cannot change what comes up on Google. I cannot change my path.

King has been eager to point out that these days he is a changed man.
"There’s no justification behind any wrongdoings. But my mental mindset right now could not be further from those incidents and those things. Even up to now, I’m finding speaking about issues that I had is therapeutic for me and I think is something I encourage everyone to do in all walks of life, because it helps.

“If you keep things in emotionally, it just builds up and you explode because everybody’s got a limit that they can take. And we give it the ego, ‘I’m alright, Jack, no, we’re OK’ and I think that’s a lot of what I did. I had a lot of things going on, off the pitch. I can openly say I’m one of those people that needed to talk."
King made 24 appearances and scored 12 goals for Jamaica’s national team. 


 

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