Edwin Allen coach Michael Dyke accepts that good sense has prevailed, despite admitting the fact that the cancellation of this year’s Boys’ and Girls’ Championships has come as a significant disappointment for himself and athletes.

Earlier this week, the annual powerhouse track and field event was cancelled following a meeting between various stakeholders.  The meet became the latest in a long line of sporting events, both globally and locally, postponed or cancelled this month as the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Understandably, the news has not been greeted positively in all quarters, with some coaches calling the move a ‘stupid fix’ and insisting the decision was arrived at hastily.  President of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Keith Wellington has, however, insisted the move was only taken after careful consideration.  Though insisting it was a disappointment, Dyke agreed that the safety of athletes and spectators should come first.

“Naturally I would have been very disappointed based on the fact that we have been preparing since September for the national girls' championships but it is a situation that we all have to understand and take into consideration the seriousness of the situation,” Dkye told SportsMax Zone in a recent interview.

“It is not just confined to Edwin Allen or Jamaica, but it is worldwide.  In my estimation the safety of the patrons and athletes must come first,” he added.

“You don’t want to allow people to be assembling in crowds like this because maybe at the end then you will find a lot more cases.  It would lead us to another situation where the blame game would have started, probably with the governing body or government.  In all of this, we have to put the student’s health on the forefront.”

The annual ISSA Boys and Girls Champs routinely draws crowds in excess of 25,000 at the country’s National Stadium.

 

President of the Bermuda National Athletics Association Donna Raynor has confirmed the fate of this year’s CARIFTA Games remains in the balance but has not yet been cancelled over the threat of the coronavirus.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on sporting events across the globe, with several already cancelled or postponed.  The 2020 CARIFTA Games is scheduled for Bermuda next month but the threat of the spread of the virus has put also put that staging in doubt.

“Basically, what we are in Bermuda is keeping a close on what has been happening with the Coronavirus, not only in Bermuda but in the Caribbean islands as well,” Raynor told the SportsMax Zone in an exclusive interview.

“One of our local organising committee members sits on the Health Organisation Committee of Bermuda and they are having a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss all of the sporting events that are taking place in Bermuda,” she added.

“We also have the international triathlon set to take place on the Friday after CARIFTA and of course that will involve several athletes from the US, Europe and so forth.  The only saving grace is that most of our athletes are coming from the Caribbean and on charters.  So far Bermuda hasn’t had anybody that has tested positive, but we cannot be confident it will take place.  We are ready to host the Games but we have to be directed by our government.”    

Initially, Raynor admitted that the body had been confident of being able to stage the event due to the limited footprint of the virus in the Caribbean so far.  With Jamaica confirming its first case on Wednesday and Canadian authorities claiming that one of their latest cases travelled to the country from Trinidad and Tobago, things could be about to change.  Trinidad and Tobago have, however, reported no cases so far.  The CARIFTA Games have been staged every year at various countries around the region since 1972.

“It changes the ballgame (Jamaica positive test).  Today it’s Jamaica, tomorrow it could be the Bahamas, the day after that Bermuda.  So that’s definitely shaken our confidence and we definitely cannot say it will take place.”

Former world record holder Asafa Powell is confident he will get to the elusive target of 100 sub-10 clockings sometime in the coming season, despite insisting that it is not necessarily a primary focus.

Powell, who set the world record twice, first in 2005 (9.77) before lowering the mark in 2007 (9.74), has the most sub-10 clockings in history with 97.  The 37-year-old has, however, been hampered by injury in recent years and has struggled to dip below the mark in recent years.

The runner has not managed to go below the mark since 2016, when he clocked 9.92.  With a solid preseason behind him, however, Powell feels he is ready to get back to his best form and achieving the target is well within his grasp.

“Based on how training has been going this year I expect it to be a walk in the park,” Powell said of getting to 100 sub-10 clockings.

“I’m not really focusing on that it will come naturally.  I’m focused on going to the national trials where you have to go sub-10 and on the Diamond League circuit you have to go sub-10, so I’m not focusing on it,” he said.

“I’m just taking it step by step and making sure I stay healthy.”

Former 100m record holder Asafa Powell has insisted he remains in great shape to compete despite being dismissed as an 'old guy' by a competitor at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday.

In his prime, Powell cast an enviable figure for many sprinters, his picture-perfect running style taking him to a world record time of 9.77 in 2005 and then lowering that mark with a time of 9.74 in 2007.  The Jamaican went on to clock the most sub-10 second times for any sprinter with a total of 98.

In recent years, Powell, who has been plagued by injuries, has struggled to reach close to such heights.  On Saturday, the sprinter finished in 5th place in the men’s 60m, with a time of 6.71, expectedly well off his best of 6.44.  His efforts seemed to do little to impress United States sprinter Demek Kemp.  The 23-year-old South Carolina representative took the event in a personal best time of 6.50. 

"Feels great," Kemp said of the run.

"I had some good competition. Glad to have a personal record,” he added.

He clearly did not feel Powell was among them, however.

"He's an old guy," Kemp said when asked about competing against the Jamaican.

For his part, Powell, who insisted the run was about testing his legs, however, claims he is feeling as good as ever and is confident he should still be competing.

“I am still feeling very strong, still feeling as fast as I did years ago,” Powell told Track Alerts.

“With the entire Jamaica is motivating me, and with that kind of support, it’s hard to give up,” he added.

 

Jamaican sprint superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce insists athletes should retire on their own terms not feel pressure to step aside due to factors like aging.

With sprinting and sports in general often considered the domain of younger athlete, Fraser-Pryce became one of several current stars willing to buck that trend after capturing gold at the Doha World Championships last year.  In the process, she became the oldest woman to ever win 100m gold at a global championship.  The 33-year-old also became the only sprinter to be crowned world champion over the 100m four times (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019) and the first woman to hold dual world and Olympic titles on two separate occasions.

With 10-years having passed since she made her debut as a 21-year-old at the 2008 Olympic Games, her achievements are as much a testament to her longevity as much as it is to her talent.

“The last time I won this award was 2015 and to be here over a decade later still representing the unique legacy that we have here for Jamaica in sprinting and athletics is a huge honour,” Fraser-Pryce said.

“I hope that with this award a lot more athletes can understand that there is so much more to us as athletes and so much more to give.  You decide when its time to go,” she added.

Fraser-Pryce registered another milestone two years ago when she took time off from the sport to have her first child.

 

Promising young Jamaica sprinter Christania Williams has left the local MVP Track Club to join Florida-based Tumbleweed Track Club in the United States.

The 25-year-old Williams, a former high school standout star at Jamaican high school Edwin Allen, is considered by many as one of a new generation of talented athletes expected to continue the country’s success.

Williams was part of Jamaica’s silver medal-winning team in the 4x100m relays at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and claimed bronze, in the same event, at the London World Championships a year later.  The sprinter, who holds personal best times of 10.96 in the 100m and 23.48 over the 200m, was a double silver medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018.

The sprinter will join the likes of compatriots Omar McLeod, the 110m Olympic champion and World Youth Champion Christopher Taylor.  Williams is the second top-ranked athlete to leave the MVP Track Club this season with hurdler Megan Tapper having left at the start.

 

Double sprint world record holder Usain Bolt has offered words of encouragement for athletes preparing to take part in the 2020 Youth Olympics in Lausanne.

A total of 1783 athletes from 79 nations are expected to compete in some 81 events over the next month.  His native Jamaica will not be among them, with the Caribbean represented at the winter event by Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago.

The former sprinter took the time out to wish all the young competitors about to take part in the event good look and encouraged them to enjoy the experience as they reach for their dreams.

“That’s where I started, that’s where your future starts to take shape,” Bolt said via a video message.

So, go there and do your best and enjoy yourself.  That’s the key thing.  Enjoy the experience.  You’re this young.  Take your time develop and get great,” Bolt added.

The Jamaica speeders would know all about excelling at the youth level after claiming gold medals in the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the 2002 World Junior Championship in Kingston and gold in the 200m at 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke.  Bolt went on to win a total of 20 Olympic and World Championship medals in a stellar career.

 Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake believes he has suffered from competing in the same era as compatriot and athletics great Usain Bolt.

The 29-year-old Blake has recorded some stunning achievements of his own on the track, in a career that has also been hampered by injury.  His best times over the 100m (9.69) and 200m (19.26) are the second-fastest ever recorded over the distances.  Bolt still holds both world records.

In addition, Blake claimed the gold medal at the 2011 Daegu World Championship and silver medals in both the 100m and 200m at the 2012 London Olympic Games.  On both occasions, the sprinter finished behind his illustrious teammate Bolt.  Once thought as the natural successor to the athletics sprint throne, Blake then suffered major hamstring injuries in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  While insisting that he is satisfied with what he has achieved in the sport to date,  Blake believes things could have been different had he been born in another era.

"I would be the fastest man in everything. I feel like I was born in a wrong time. But nevertheless, I am happy with what I have achieved,” Blake told reporters recently.

“It would be hard to top Usain because it was his time and it was hard to compete against him. The first time I beat him in Kingston, I had to work day and night to do it."

Heading into the 2012 Olympics Blake defeated Bolt over both the 100m and 200m at the Jamaica National trials but never managed to repeat the feat.

If dreams come true, United States sprinter Noah Lyles could be the new 100m world record holder before even setting foot in the Tokyo Olympics final.

The 22-year-old American sprinter has been one of a handful of prominent stars to emerge from the pack as up and coming athletes chase the legacy of Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt.  Despite being universally acknowledged as a tremendous talent and winning his first major title earlier this year, which was the 200m at the Doha World Championships, for now, Lyles remains firmly in the Jamaican's big shadow.

In addition to boasting eight Olympics and 11 World Championship gold medals, it is Bolt who still holds the records for the fastest times ever clocked over both the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19).  The American has already at least broken one of Bolt’s records in pursuit.  Earlier this year, the young sprinter broke Bolt’s meet record at the Paris Diamond League.  Lyles clocked 19.65, eclipsing the Jamaican's previous time of 19.73.  With the Olympics on the horizon, the American has much bigger hopes, well bigger dreams in any case.

“I’m very excited for Tokyo. Japan is one of my favourite countries outside the US. I’ve got big plans,” Lyles told Olympic.org.

“I’ve got a dream that I ran 9.41 in the semis at the Olympics,” he added.

The athlete must, of course, secure himself a spot on the United States national team before having a chance to chase his dream.

 

Jamaica triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts contends she is encouraged by the consistency of recent performances, after claiming the women’s title at the ISTAF Berlin World Challenge Meeting, in Germany on Sunday.

Fresh off claiming the Diamond League title with a leap just under 15m, Ricketts cleared 14.63m to take top spot in the women’s triple jump in Berlin.  Patricia Mamona of Portugal claimed second place with a leap of 14.18 and Dovile Kilty of Lithuania placed third with a leap of 14.15.   Kimberly Williams, the other Jamaican in the event, finished 5th with a leap of 13.96m.

“I feel great. My best jump was 14.63m, that shows that I have a lot of consistency,” Ricketts said.

“This was my final rehearsal for Doha. Achieving such a result after the DL final a few days ago is great, incredible. I was hoping to jump further, but we had a negative breeze (wind), and I was tired from the DL final. I really like it here, the crowd was electric and gave us a lot of support,” she added.

In another result, Danniel Thomas-Dodd threw 18.02m for 4th in the women’s shot put. Canadian Brittany Crew won the event with 19.28m.

Jamaica Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod expressed delight with his conditioning as the clock counts down to the IAAF World Championships, in Doha later this month.

The sprint hurdler clocked a comfortable looking 13.07, well clear of France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who was second in 13.25, to claim top spot at the ISTAF Berlin World Challenge Meeting in Germany on Sunday.  Barbados’ Shane Brathwaite was third in 13.36.

McLeod will have plenty of reason to feel encouraged following a tough start to the season, which was perhaps fueled by somewhat of a ride on a coaching carousel of sorts early on.  The 25-year-old had trained with Eldrick Floreal up until late 2018 but then moved to Gary Evans at Empire Athletics in Florida.  Tony Ross at World Fastest Humans was his hurdles coach. 

Following early struggles, however, the athlete joined Tumbleweed camp of elite coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville.  His performances seem to have since improved as he claimed the top spot in Birmingham two weeks ago, before winning again in Germany.

“Everything was coming together perfectly. I ran so smooth, tight over the hurdles. This was like a final rehearsal for Doha,” McLeod said.

“I did it! Like my coach told me, I just got out and took control. Everything was good – the start, the finish and every hurdle. You could say it was a perfect race,” he added.

Fellow Jamaicans Orlando Bennett, 13.54 and Ronald Levy, 14.24 were 8th and 9th respectively.

 

Former Executive Director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission Renee Ann Shirley admits that she does not share the optimism of Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Warren Blake regarding the situation facing rising star Briana Williams.

The 17-year-old athlete recently returned an adverse analytical finding, following her participation in the Jamaica National Championship.  The athlete blamed the finding on a contaminated batch of Pharma Cold & Flu medication, which she had used to battle the effects of a cold. 

The claim that the batch of contaminated medication contained the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, was verified by an independent laboratory.  Based on the circumstances, Blake had previously suggested that he was confident that Williams could be cleared, even without a hearing.  The sentences possible for the young sprinter range from a reprimand to a 4-year ban.

Anything other than a reprimand for Williams, who booked a spot on the World Championship team by finishing third at the trials, could see the athlete miss out on taking part in the event.

“I don’t see it. I don’t see that being possible,” Shirley told SportsMax Zone in an exclusive interview.

“He was giving the most optimistic scenario.  What I want to caution everybody is that we are not dealing with an athlete that’s just running as a junior, this is someone that’s considered a senior athlete,” she added.

“I think that there are going to be questions that need to be answered and the IAAF’s AIU teams and their investigative panel, even if Jamaica decides not to do it, I think that we will find out that they are paying close attention to this case and so is WADA.”    

 

  

Areita Martin and Henry Thomas emerged as winners in the women’s and men’s senior categories, respectively, as the curtains came down on the 8th staging of the 2019 Good Samaritan 5k Health Run/Walk.

Martin, who represented Rainforest Seafoods, finished the charity run in 22.39 to top the Female 14 and Over section.  The runner finished well clear of her closest competition, Alison Sutherland, also of Rainforest Seafood, who was second in 24:09.  Ingrid Blackwood of UCT Steppas was third in 24.30. 

Thomas, who represented UCT Steppas, also dominated the competition but enjoyed a narrower margin after finishing first in 16.22.  Kemar Leslie of Rainforest Seafoods was second in 16:52, with Kosiani Dunkley of Riot Squad third in 17:36. 

The race route took competitors from the Andrew Hospital on Hope Road, through New Kingston along Dominica Drive back to Trafalgar Road, before returning to Hope Road to finish the race. 

The charity event has targetted raising money to purchase two sets of life-saving dialysis machines, whose use will be offered at a heavily discounted rate to the less fortunate in need of the service. 

The event was attended by some 500 patrons and by all accounts was once again a rousing success.

 

Rising Jamaican sprint phenom Briana Williams has admitted the country’s reverence for the sport of track and field made it an easy decision to choose the tiny Caribbean island over the United States.

The 17-year-old Williams is considered one of the brightest up and coming prospects in the sport of athletics. In fact, the sprinter is expected to follow a long line of exceptional Jamaican sprinters, the likes of which include Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and the legendary Usain Bolt. 

Williams was, however, born in the United States, a country that has a proud track and field legacy of its own.  For the diminutive young sprinter, however, the choice between the track and field rivals was always a straight forward one.

“I was grown up in the Jamaica tradition way.  All the time when I was watching the Olympics, I would see Bolt and Shelly-Ann winning and think I want to be like them,” Williams said recently, in a podcast with the Olympic Channel.

“America has football, baseball they are more fans of that. In Jamaica, they show support to their track athletes and I like that.  In America, there is track but it's not at the same level.  When the Jamaica athletes are at the Olympics or World Championships, there is screaming in the middle of the streets and people cheering them on.  I like that culture more,” she added.  

Boldon, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic bronze medalist, was in complete agreement.  Like Williams, Boldon could also have represented Jamaica as he was born in Port of Spain to a Jamaican mother.

“Even me being from Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes track and field athletes, despite us having the bulk of our Olympic medals, are not as revered in Trinidad and Tobago, like it is in Jamaica,” Boldon said.

“Many times during my career, when I saw the support for Jamaican athletes, I used to saw wow maybe Jamaica should have been the place I ran for because it just matters more," he added.

Williams, the World U-20 sprint double Champion, will represent Jamaica at the Doha World Championships later this year.   

Many-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce achieved yet another milestone, after passing compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown for the most sub-11 clockings recorded by a Jamaican female sprinter.

The 32-year-old track star recently pulled level with the legendary Campbell-Brown at 49 apiece when she clocked 10.95 seconds in the heats at the London Diamond League.  The duo, however, did not stay tied long as Fraser-Pryce then went on to move second all-time when she clocked a breezy 10.78 to blow her opponents away in the final.

The result moved Fraser-Pryce to second all-time list behind the ageless sprint wonder Merlene Ottey.  Ottey achieved the feat some 67 times.  Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, currently the sprinter’s teammate and biggest rival in the event has achieved the mark 28 times.

The two are scheduled to face off at the Doha World Championship, in which both women seemed certain to add to their tally of sub-11 times.

 

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