Jamaica track and field superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce already has one eye on defending her World Championship title on home soil, so to speak, with the 2021 edition set to be held in the North American region.

The 32-year-old created history at the last edition of the event in Doha, where she became the first woman to win four 100m world titles.  Fraser-Pryce has captured the world title at the Berlin (2009), Moscow (2013), Beijing (2015) and Doha (2018) World Championships.

Even though it is the Tokyo Olympics that is on the immediate horizon, the diminutive sprinter admits it is hard not to try and take a peek a little further ahead, an event that is likely to be her last major games appearance.

“After Tokyo, I am the defending champion at the world championships in Eugene and that is so close to home,” Fraser-Pryce told the AFP.

“It’s a few hours [flight] from Jamaica and to be able to end a career close to home, where I can have most, if not all, of my family in attendance, would be the highlight of my career,” she added.

“I am taking it a year at a time. After Tokyo, I can make that decision.”

Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence has insisted he is working hard to be ready when called upon for new Belgian Premier League club Anderlecht.

The 27-year-old defender recently completed a move to the European club from United States MLS team New York Red Bull.  Lawrence made 118 appearances for the New York franchise in five years.  With the move away from the club coming ahead of the start of the new MLS season, the right-back has admitted he is a little short on match fitness.

“The guys are already midway or past midway the season so it’s already business time.  For me right now it’s about getting fit and being ready to play,” Lawrence told members of the media at his unveiling.

Lawrence qualifies to play this weekend against  Mechelen but is not yet sure he is ready to make an appearance.

“As it relates to fitness, I’m coming off a long offseason about 2 months offseason, so match fitness I’m not up to that standard yet but I should be soon.  The guys are pushing each and every day, I am about a week in, so about next week or a week and a half I should be up to 90 minutes match fitness,” Lawrence said.

“So far though the guys are being smart because you know when a player is coming back from offseason you can’t just rush him into a game because that is risking injury.”

 

Retired Jamaica sprint legend Usain Bolt admits to missing the sport of athletics and once mulled the idea of coming out of retirement but was convinced he had made the right decision by his former coach Glen Mills.

Bolt, considered in many arenas as the greatest sprinter of all time, amassed stellar achievements in a career that lasted well over a decade.  In addition to holding the world record over both the 100m and 200m sprints, the Jamaican claimed 8 Olympic gold and 11 World Championship medals.

His soaring career might, however, be said to have ended on somewhat of a low after finishing third at the 2017 World Championships and failing to finish in the 4x100m relay. 

 "I talked to my track coach," Bolt told CNN Sport's Coy Wire. "And he was like, 'No, you're not doing it. People that retire and come back -- it doesn't always work out.'

The sprinter, who suffers from scoliosis of the spine, was quick to admit that he also did not miss the grueling training needed to compete at the highest level.

"For me, at the end I knew it was time because the drive wasn't there. But every time I watch track and field I miss it. And every time I go to the track to see my coach and I watch him training I go, 'Did I make the right decision?' ... But every time I train with them I think, 'Ah yeah I made the right decision. I don't miss this.'"

Jamaica Reggae Boyz shot-stopper and captain Andre Blake insists he is looking forward to what is expected to be a big year for both his club and national teams.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper made the MLS All-Star roster in 2016 and again in 2019.  By the numbers, however, Blake had a less than impressive season between the sticks.  The Union gave up 57 goals last year in all competitions. 

Blake didn’t have a clean sheet in the team’s last 13 games of the season and only had six for the team all year.  His goals-against average rose from 1.5 in 2018 (57 goals allowed in 38 games) to 1.64 in 2019 (46 in 28).

With the Union, however, a part of the Jamaican's struggles might have to do with a tweak in the team’s gameplay, which is expected to adjust this season particularly with the addition of new personnel.

Internationally the player’s national team has made the CONCACAF Hexagonal round for the first time since the 2014 cycle and could be in line for a second appearance at the FIFA World Cup.  The Reggae Boyz finished runners-up on two occasions and then semi-finalists in the last three editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“There’s a lot of soccer to play for club and country, there’s going to be a lot on the line,” Blake told the Inquirer

“I have to make sure I do everything to be ready, to stay sharp, to stay fit. I’m definitely looking forward to a big year, to do whatever it takes in the net when I’m with club and country to be successful and to help my team be successful,” he added.

 

The Jamaica national team coach Theodore Whitmore has revealed a friendly next month against the Spanish region of Catalonia will be used to assess players who could potentially represent the Reggae Boyz.

The historic match-up against the Catalonia squad will be one of two matches scheduled for the national team next month.  The Jamaicans are expected to play a match against Bermuda on March 11, before taking on the Spanish region on March 30. 

According to the federation, while the match against Bermuda is expected to consist of mostly local players, the match in Spain will consist of overseas-based players.

“One of the things we will emphasizing is the conditioning of the players and how they can operate in various positions,” Whitmore said of the friendly.

“There isn’t a lot to it.  It’s just for them to go out and enjoy themselves.”

The Reggae Boyz are currently ranked 48th in the world.  The Catalonia national football team is not affiliated with either FIFA or UEFA and is therefore not allowed to participate in either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship.  Since 1904, the team has played nearly 200 games against various national, regional and club teams.

 

Sports Minister Olivia Grange says all is set for the unveiling of the statue of Jamaican Olympian Asafa Powell on Sunday, February 9.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness will unveil the statue in a special ceremony at Statue Park in the National Stadium, beginning at 5:00 pm.

Minister Grange has invited the public to attend the ceremony and witness the unveiling of the statue.

Minister Grange said: “This is the final of four statues that we commissioned as part of the Jamaica 55 Legacy programme to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding athletes.

The statues not only highlight Jamaican athletic success but will serve as inspiration for all of us about what is possible when we try.

So I invite as many people as possible to join us on Sunday and celebrate with Asafa.

”The renowned Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson was engaged by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to design statues in honour of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell.

 Reigning world record holder and soon to be dad Usain Bolt insists he would not encourage his children to follow in his footsteps.

The Jamaican sprint king, who retired from the sport in 2016, is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.  News of the track star about to father a child perhaps for many conjured images of someday having the next generation of the Bolt family continuing his rich legacy.  Not, however, if the sprinter can help it.

“I’m going to say no, initially.  If they do, I will support it,” Bolt said in an interview with The Times.

“I think the pressure is going to be too much, especially at the level I left it. It’s going to be tough to follow,” he added.

Matching the feats of Bolt would indeed take some doing.  The athlete dominated the sport of track and field for over a decade, winning 8 Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championships.

“You have to wait until they get to a certain age to explain to them that people are going to expect a lot from you, because of what I’ve done in the past.  I’ll wait until the time is right to explain.”

Jamaica Reggae Girlz inspirational striker and captain Khadijah Shaw insists the team will not be discouraged by a performance that was on occasion overwhelming, during the recently concluded Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

The Jamaicans managed to at least finish on a high with a 7-0 win over Caribbean rivals St Kitts and Nevis.  Some of their previous results were, however, far less impressive after opening with a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a 9-0 loss at the hands of Canada. 

With only two teams to qualify from the competitive group B Jamaica ended in third place on 3 points.  Despite some of the tough results, however, Shaw insists the historic World Cup qualifiers remain encouraged and vows the team will bounce back.

“The tournament didn’t go how we wanted but it’s important to stay positive.  We know we should have gotten better results against the other teams but at the end of the day that’s football you win some you lose some,” Shaw said.

“The objective was just to come out here and show what we could do and stay together as a team despite all the adversity,” she added.

“In life, you will have setbacks but it’s about how you get up and keep pushing is what defines you as a person and you just keep on learning.  The more you grow is the better you get.”

In the wake of Jamaica’s 9-0 loss to Canada on Saturday in CONCACAF Women Olympic Group B qualifiers, the Reggae Girlz forward Chenya Matthews said she and her teammates have a lot to learn from the embarrassing loss.

Jamaica's Reggae Girlz were on the wrong end of a 9-0 thrashing, at the hands of Canada, in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship on Saturday.

Needing a win to keep their chances of advancing from the highly competitive group B alive, the Jamaicans found the firepower from the eighth-ranked Canadians a bit too much to handle and found very little in the way of competitive response.

  Canadian teenager Jordyn Huitema helped herself to five goals and Janine Beckie added three as the Maple Leaves booked their spot in the semifinals of the competition with one group game remaining.  In its first two games, the Canadians have scored an astounding 20 goals, after opening with an 11-0 thrashing of St Kitts.

Deanne Rose got the team’s other goal.  The Canadians will tackle Mexico, who earlier beat St Kitts 6-0, to see which team progresses as the winner of the group.  Jamaica will play St Kitts and Nevis in the battle to determine the minor placings.  The U.S. plays Costa Rica on Monday to determine the Group A winner.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr has urged patience as it relates to the women’s national program, following the team’s slow start to the CONCACAF Women’s Qualifying Championship.

The Jamaica national team caught the attention of the world when they became the first Caribbean team to qualify for a women’s World Cup.  On Wednesday, the team failed to immediately live up toheightened expectations after losing to 1-0 to Mexico in the first match of the CONCACAF Championships.  In a tough group B, which also includes Canada and St Kitts, the loss could be a major set-back with a tough match-up against 8th ranked Canada now earmarked as a must-win.  According to Busby, however, such ups and downs are to be expected.

“ We have to be realistic, in some aspects we are close to 20 years behind in the development of women’s football. We have made tremendous strides to get to what we have been able to do in the last five years,” Busby told the SportsMax Zone.

“These are building blocks.  You want a sustainable women’s program that is going to be able to compete for CONCACAF and World Cup and Olympic berth for years and that is what we are building,” he added.

“There is no quick fix when it comes to developing and growing a program.  Especially when you are talking about growing the program in our region. So, we understand that and the Federation understands that now.”

 

Jamaica Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr has pointed out that the team is mathematically still in with a chance to qualify for the Olympics, despite a disappointing start to the campaign after a loss to Mexico.

In a competitive Group B, which also includes St Kitts and Nevis and Canada, and only two to qualify to the next round, the last thing the Jamaicans would have wanted was a 1-0 loss to begin their campaign.  Thanks to a goal from Mexico’s Renae Cuéllar, however, that is the scenario the team has found themselves in, with its upcoming game against highly-fancied eighth-ranked Canada already a must-win scenario.  In their opening encounter, Canada beat St Kitts and Nevis 11-0.

“Mathematically we are still in.  We have to win our next two games to advance and that’s where our preparation is right now,” Busby Jr told the SportsMax Zone.

One area in which the coach hopes there will be a dramatic improvement is in front of the goal. 

“Mexico had lots of possession, but they did not threaten us.  I thought we were organized and compact and hard to break down.  I think on the overall balance of the game we created more clear-cut opportunities and I think if we were sharper in front of goal we could have won the match,” he added.

The team’s talisman Khadijah Shaw crashed a powerful shot of the crossbar before Mexico took the lead and was denied again in the second half.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.   Jamaica plays Canada in the later game.

 

The Jamaica Rifle Association’s (JRA) pistol-shooting team delivered a commendable performance at the Florida State United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Championships held recently in Frostproof, USA.

The Jamaica Reggae Girlz kicked off their bid to qualify for the Olympics in disappointing fashion with a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the Women’s Qualifying Championship at HEB Park in Texas on Wednesday.

With only two teams allowed to qualify from the region, the loss was an early blow for the team looking to follow-up on their maiden appearance at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

The Jamaicans began the match the brighter of the two teams, but it was the Mexicans who seemed determined to make up for missing out on qualification for the last World Cup.

Despite dominant spells of possession, it was a set-piece that saw the Mexicans eventually take the lead.  In the 36th minute, after Kiana Palacios laid off for Renae Cuéllar in the area, she smartly steered home to finish beyond Sydney Schneider.  The Jamaicans had previously only narrowly missed out on taking the lead after talismanic striker Khadijah Shaw hit the crossbar in the 32nd minute from a tight angle.

The Jamaicans continued to hunt for the equalizer in the second half but were denied by quality saves from Mexican goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.

 Saint Kitts and Nevis lost to Canada 11-0 earlier on Wednesday. Jamaica plays Canada in the later game in what’s now a must-win match for the Reggae Girlz.

Noted trainer Antony ‘Baba’ Nunes has strongly reprimanded the Jamaica Veterinary Services Division for the treatment meted out to Triple Crown winner Supreme Soul who remains quarantined in the United States.

The four-year-old colt headed to the United States late last year for the Caribbean Classic at Gulfstream Park but has been unable to return to Jamaica after testing positive for the tick fever virus.  Based on existing protocol, the Veterinary Services Division has insisted that the horse be treated for the virus in the United States, but with the disease not endemic to that region the drugs need to treat the animal are not readily available.

In the meantime, according to Nunes an email from the USDA stated that the horse had spent more than 44 days straight in a 10 by 10 feet quarantine isolation stall, which does not typically hold animals longer than 15 days.  The trainer believes the action borders on inhumane.

“…If the USDA is telling you that it is inhumane to do that to this animal are you telling me that veterinarians from the country of which this horse was born are saying no you cannot come here, that you do not have a humane bone in your body to worry about this horse mentally and physically,” an irate Nunes told the SportsMax Zone .

This horse represented his country, it’s no fault of his own.  It’s like Usain Bolt going to the Olympics, catching the flu and you tell him he can’t come back home,” he added.

A part of the trainer’s grouse is based on the fact that he believes the tick fever virus is pervasive on the island, with over 50 percent of animals at Caymanas Park carrying markers for the disease.

“For Veterinary Services Division to say that they cannot accept Supreme Soul back into Jamaica makes absolutely no sense.  In fact, if he was to be shipped back to Jamaica he shouldn’t even have to go through quarantine because the truth of the matter is that of the 1200 horses he is going to mix with at Caymanas Park, 1199 of them are already probably carrying the tick fever virus."

According to the trainer, the USDA will not able to get tick fever medicine to treat the horse until around March, by then it could cost approximately $US40,000 to keep the horse in the United States.  At that cost, the trainer believes it could come down to a business decision, which could see the horse euthanized.

“You are putting the owner in a position now where you are saying to him this going to cost you $US40,000 through no fault of yours or the horses and we are going to have to suck it up. No.”

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