Retired Jamaican sprint king, Usain Bolt, must have had a nervous moment, or two, when American Noah Lyes was recorded crossing the line in 18.90, in a 200m sprint, during the socially distanced Inspiration Games earlier this week.

It turns out, however, in a massive error, that the athlete had only run 185 metres after starting from the wrong spot.  The novel competition saw 28 athletes split into three teams, taking part in eight events, at seven different venues. 

Competitors were connected by a live video and timing link with a split-screen.  Lyles represented Team North America, and convincingly beat Team Europe's Christophe Lemaitre, in Zurich, and Team World's Churandy Martina, in Papendal.  The organisers at the Bradenton, Florida track while Lyles ran, however, didn’t get things quite right and he was later disqualified.

In a recent interview with Variety, Bolt, who will be featured in the upcoming Greatness Code Apple series, admitted that these days he was more focused on being a good dad.  He, however, still enjoys watching track and field but stays clear of any thoughts of picking his successor.  Bolt previously picked compatriot Yohan Blake and South African Wayde Van Niekerk to replace him as the new king of sprinting.  While Blake is yet to recover the type of form that saw him crowned the world’s second-fastest man, van Niekerk broke the 400m world record but then suffered a serious injury.

“For me, I’m just watching.  I think I tend to have bad luck in picking people.  When I say I like this person at times it doesn’t work out,” Bolt said.

Bolt's records of 9.58, over 100m, and 19.19, in the 200m, are now 11 years old.

Jamaican teen track star Briana Williams has signed a three-year deal to become a brand ambassador for Grace Foods, the company announced on Wednesday.

The world has been reacting with a mixture of celebration and admiration following the official introduction of Usain Bolt’s daughter to the world on Tuesday.

Olympia Lightning Bolt was born on May 17, 2020. Just over two months later, her mother Kasi Bennett celebrated her birthday and her world-famous boyfriend posted in celebration a photo of their beautiful daughter on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Among the hundreds of reactions were Miss Universe runner-up Yendi Phillips, Miss World 1993 Lisa Hannah, four-time World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, 400m world-record holder and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk, and Olympic silver medallist Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.

“Absolutely lovely. What a blessing,” Phillips commented.

“Blessings,” was how Hannah, now a Jamaican Member of Parliament reacted.

“Beautiful big bro,” said van Nierkerk.

British 100m champion Dina Asher-Smith was smitten by the two-month-old Olympia. “So adorable,” she wrote.

Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, whose daughter is also named Olympia, sent heart emojis to the 11-time world champion.

On Twitter, Bolt-sponsor Digicel posted: “Congrats again to @usainbolt and @kasi.b on their baby girl. Also sending Birthday Blessings to Kasi on her special day.”

There were also reactions from Bolt's close fried Jamaican entertainer Chris Martin and former Barcelona player and coach Patrick Kluivert.

The eight-time Olympic medalist and double world record holder Bolt also posted a special tribute to his lady love on Instagram that read in part:

“I want to wish my gf @kasi.b a happy birthday and to let you know I am happy to spend your special day with you. Now we have started a new chapter together with our daughter Olympia Lightning Bolt.”

 

 

Retired Jamaica international Jobi McAnuff insists he is not just along for the ride after signing a new one-year contract with England League Two club Leyton Orient.

McANuff the club captain, will be 39 years old later this year and transitioned to a player/coach role last season.  He will be in a similar capacity this year but despite being the senior statesman of sorts is determined to be more than just a passenger on the pitch.

“I don’t just want to be a bit part or be here for the ride, I want to contribute, that’s a big, big thing for me,” McAnuff said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I’m feeling good,” he added.

 “Last year, as everyone knows, was frustrating. I worked really hard to get back to playing, and I’ve got a lot of work again to get to the level I want to get to.”

The injury kept McAnuff out of action for almost the entire season, not playing his first match until March.  Orient coach Ross Embleton is confident the Jamaica midfielder will be a major contributor both on and off the pitch – and is delighted to see him stay.

“He’s been at the club since I came back, and we all know what an inspiration he is on the pitch,” Embleton said.

McAnuff has made 141 appearances for the O’s in two spells.

 

Olympic 110-metre hurdles champion, Omar McLeod, is now a PUMA athlete, making the move from Nike, with whom he had been contracted since 2015.

McLeod made the announcement himself on Instagram on Friday, saying: “happy to be part of the #foreverfaster family.”

McLeod burst onto the scene in 2015, lowering his personal best of 13.44 to 12.97, setting the national record for the first time and becoming the national champion.

A year later, McLeod was winning the World Indoor title, running the 60-metre hurdles in 7.41 seconds.

He would finish sixth at the World Championships. In another year, McLeod would make history for Jamaica, running 13.05 seconds to claim Olympic gold. He would add a World Championship gold to his Olympic title the following year, but was unable to defend that title in 2019 after clipping a hurdle.

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.

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