There are many famous quotes that talk about the inevitability of change. 

They all say, “change is inevitable” and I agree. 

After all, in this fast-paced world, things are constantly developing, constant changes in technology means we are always having to adjust to keep pace with a rapidly evolving world.  

Those who can adapt are often more likely to succeed while those who can’t often get left behind. 

In my own field, the advent of social media and the tools that assist with easy dissemination of information have meant a change in attitude and approach to how content is created for traditional media. 

But in my field and many others, there are people who constantly resist change for whatever reason. 

I must admit, change isn’t always good and so it can sometimes be difficult to determine when change is necessary as opposed to when to maintain the status quo. 

In sports, many athletes are faced with this dilemma. As a teenager, which sport should I focus on? I think I could be world-class at a couple and then at the highest level what’s my best position or what is my best event? Those are questions many athletes constantly ask themselves. 

The answers are never easy to find and that is exactly why when an athlete makes drastic career alterations and still finds more success they should be lauded. 

I think about former Jamaican hurdler Danny McFarlane, the 2004 Olympic 400 metre hurdles silver medallist.  

Before Danny was a hurdler, he was a more than competent flat 400 metres athlete. 

By the time he ran his first ever race over 400m hurdles, in April of 2003, Danny was already an Olympic 400 metres finalist, an Olympic mile relay silver medallist, four times an IAAF World Championship mile relay silver medallist, an IAAF World Indoor mile relay champion and also 400 metres bronze medallist. 

To say he had carved out a solid career is an understatement. 

But clearly Danny felt he could have achieved more from the sport of track and field. However, his personal best at 400 metres was 44.90 seconds, set in 1995. 

If he wasn’t going to run much faster, which was unlikely at 31 years old when he changed events, then it’s unlikely he would have done much more than appear on a few Jamaican relay teams. 

So, he took the bold step despite little to no hurdling experience. 

I won’t chart the race by race improvements he made between April 2003 and his Olympic silver medal performance at the Athens Games in 2004 but I will say his rise was meteoric. 

In his first year of contesting the event, he won the Jamaican title, improved to 48.30 seconds, and finished fourth at the World Championships in Paris France. 

And so, it wasn’t a massive surprise that he was a contender when the Olympic Games rolled around in 2004. 

With eventual champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic and American James Carter favored to battle for Gold, many felt McFarlane was running for bronze. 

But the 32-year-old timed it perfectly, running a personal best 48.00 seconds to win his semi-final and when Carter blew up down the stretch in the final, McFarlane pounced and captured a deserved silver. 

My recollection of Caribbean voice Lance Whittaker, “and McFarlane looks as if he will get silver – and he does,” as his voice raised almost in shock.   

One thing we all remember from that Danny McFarlane performance is that it was far from perfect. 

His 400 metre hurdles journey from 2003 to the point of his retirement as a 40-year-old in 2012 was characterized by less than perfect hurdling. 

While he improved over time, for the most part, his hurdling could be described as jumping. 

But he jumped his way into the hearts of Jamaicans who adored him because of his willingness to try something new, to embrace change, to fight, and when technique failed to turn to heart. 

For all that and more, Danny McFarlane isn’t just a lesson for 2004 but a lesson for life. 

Danny isn’t just a lesson for track and field or just for sport but a lesson for all endeavors.  Danny, we salute you and say thank you for teaching us all a valuable lesson.  

 

 In general, the idea of what a woman should look has become a problematic issue, increasingly within our current societal framework.  In athletics, it seems to be no different.

Women’s tennis legend Serena Williams once said: “I think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles, being made fun of, or called unattractive.”

While not implicitly stated, appearances are also judged and discriminated against in athletics.  Women with conditions like hyperandrogenism tend to have bigger muscles due to high natural levels of testosterone and are as such, in my opinion, singled out for discrimination by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules.  Despite the fact that it is how they were born.

  In fact, women who compete with such conditions can be subject to gender verification testing should ‘suspicions’ arise. Hyperandrogenism or androgen excess is a medical condition characterized by excessive levels of testosterone in the body and the condition affects approximately 1% of elite female athletes.  Such embarrassing stipulations not only serve as a barrier to some women competing but also as a deterrent to getting involved in the first place.

In a recent chat with the Olympic Channel, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah credited fellow athlete Dutee Chand for helping put India on the global athletics stage.

Thompson-Herah gushed over the idea of athletes from other countries vying to claim a space on the global athletics map, in hopes of proudly representing themselves and their country.

“As an athlete, I think that is really exciting and great to see them coming in to deliver and perform well,” said the Olympic champion.

Having come from an impoverished community to become one of the world’s best, Thompson-Herah knows all about challenges.  Even now she battles with a nagging Achilles injury that has affected her for a good portion of her career.

For athletes like Chand, the list of obstacles can be even longer.  Thompson-Herah pointed to the athlete’s first language as another likely barrier to perhaps sharing nuggets of wisdom.

“English is not the native language for her,” Thompson-Herah explained.

“It is kind of hard to translate everything to another person who doesn't speak English, but Dutee is getting to know more and getting better each time.”

But in her short time competing as an athlete she has overcome an even bigger one.  One that were it not for her grit and determination, could have meant the end of her competing.

In June 2014, after she won two gold medals at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in the 200 metres and 4 × 400 m relays, Chand was dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games contingent at the last minute after the Athletic Federation of India revealed that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.  Chand challenged the gender testing policies and on July 26, 2015, the court ruled in favour.  The IAAF, as a result, temporarily suspended the hyperandrogenism regulations.

Consequently, she qualified for the 2016 Olympic games without having to alter her natural hormone levels.

The issue was, however, far from concluded. After further analysis in April 2018, the IAAF announced new eligibility regulations for female runners setting an upper testosterone limit, which applied to the 400m, 800m, and 1500m events.  Chand was left unaffected by the revised regulations and has her eyes set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  The rule amendment did, however, impact another woman, South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya. 

The three-time World Championship gold medallist and two times Olympic champion could no longer compete in her preferred 800m event after the new IAAF "differences of sex development" rules that required athletes with specific disorders of sex development, testosterone levels of 5 nmol/L and above, and certain androgen sensitivity, take medication to lower their testosterone levels.  Semenya, like Chand, contested the decision but lost the case at both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and appeal at the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.  She has considered switching to the 200m event.

September is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) awareness month.  PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age and is one of the conditions that can affect these elite athletes.  When women have PCOS, they may have excess male hormone (androgen) levels.

Sports governing bodies should accept the fact that some women naturally produce higher levels of testosterone and those who do should be allowed to compete. When will women just be allowed to be women?

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn created history on Friday after becoming the first Olympic medallist to be appointed a Jamaican government minister.

Jamaican Olympian Jason Morgan has expressed gratitude after winning an award at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, The Young Professionals and Bayou Life Magazine 2020 Top20 Under-40 Awards.

The award recognises outstanding professionals in North and Central in Louisiana, who have made a positive impact on their communities.

The 37-year-old Morgan has been a standout member of his community where he is the Fatherhood Programme Coordinator for Life of Choice North Central Louisiana. He also serves as the Campus Coordinator for at-risk kids and is a motivational speaker for youth groups on character and leadership.

Morgan said he was humbled and honoured at being an award winner.

“Thank you kindly, Monroe Chamber of Commerce for recognizing me as one of the North East and North Central Louisiana Top 20 young professional,” he said in a post on Facebook.

“I will continue to be a servant and let God be my guide on this journey. I also want to thank all the people who have supported me and believed in me and giving me the opportunity to work with them.”

Morgan is a motivational speaker at several high schools in his community, churches and at youth events. He has also worked with teenagers and young adults aiding their personal development and also as a mentor and coach.

“It’s also a jubilant feeling when I can share that in the past eight years I have coached over 19 high school athletes receiving college track and field scholarships in the discus, shot put and javelin, so they could get an education and excel in sports,” he said.

Brazil's men's and women's teams have been paid at the same rate since March and will continue to be treated equally moving forward, CBF president Rogerio Caboclo has announced.

In what the CBF described as an "unprecedented measure", Brazil Women - led by captain Marta - receive the same daily wages and prize money as the five-time men's world champions.

Caboclo revealed the change at a news conference as Duda Luizelli and Aline Pellegrino were hired as the CBF's new women's football coordinators.

"Since March of this year, the CBF has paid an equal value in terms of prizes and daily rates between men's and women's football," Caboclo said.

"The men's players earn the same as the women's players during their call-ups. What they receive daily, the women also receive.

"What the men will gain by winning or advancing at the Olympics next year will be the same as the women will have.

"What men will receive at the next World Cup will be proportionally equal to what is proposed by FIFA.

"There is no more gender difference, as the CBF is treating men and women equally."

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, Elaine Thompson-Herah became the first Jamaican woman and the seventh woman ever to win the 100/200m double at the same Olympic Games.

If she has her way, if the Olympics are held in Tokyo next year, she will be in a pantheon of one- the only female sprinter to successfully defend an Olympic sprint double at the same Olympics.

She believes it is possible but it depends on one key factor.

“(Being) healthy is key because when I am healthy I am in the best shape of my life, I don’t think I have reached that yet. I just want to maintain that health. I really want to capture back my double at the Olympics,” she said while speaking on the Drive Phase Podcast with host Dalton Myers.

“I want to retain my titles.”

When she won the sprint double in Rio, the achievement thrust her into the global spotlight as one of the greatest-ever female sprinters and made her a national treasure in a country known for athletic icons like Herb McKenley, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt.

However, unlike Fraser-Pryce and Bolt, Thompson-Herah has so far failed to build on that legacy. Injury and illness robbed her of possible gold medals at the 2017 World Championships in London and again at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, where she finished fourth in the 100m final, having gone into the meet with the joint fastest time in the world.

She said she doesn’t intend to dwell on those disappointments and will continue to work hard, hoping that that elusive World Championships gold medal will soon be hanging from her neck.

Meantime, she has other goals in mind.

 “I still want to get below that 10.7 barrier,” said the woman who shares Jamaica’s national record of 10.70 with two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

“I think I have it in me. It’s just about the time for it to come.”

She also believes she can go faster than her 200m 21.66 PB set in 2015 when she won the silver medal at the World Championships in Beijing, China.

“Once I am healthy anything is possible,” she said.

Yuriy Ganus has been removed as the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's (RUSADA) director general, prompting concerns over its independence from the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

RUSADA's supervisory board earlier this month recommended its founders - the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee - dismiss Ganus, advice that was taken on Friday.

Deputy director general Margarita Pakhnotskaya and the supervisory board's independent international expert member Sergey Khrychikov resigned this week.

RUSADA's non-compliance case is pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport after it appealed the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) four-year suspension of Russia from global sporting events.

WADA and the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) each responded to news of Ganus' removal with unease.

WADA, which previously said it was "extremely concerned" by the supervisory board's recommendation, said: "These developments reinforce the concerns expressed by WADA in its statement of August 5 in relation to the manner in which the founders reached the decision regarding Mr Ganus following a recommendation by RUSADA's supervisory board.

"[The developments] re-emphasise the critical importance for RUSADA to maintain its operational independence going forward.

"WADA is in contact with RUSADA and other relevant Russian authorities to get further clarifications on the latest developments."

It added: "It is a critical element of the World Anti-Doping Code that national anti-doping organisations, such as RUSADA, remain safe from interference in their operational decisions and activities in order to conduct their work independently and effectively.

"This is why the Compliance Review Committee made it a condition of RUSADA's reinstatement that WADA remains satisfied that RUSADA's independence is being respected and there is no improper outside interference with its operations."

iNADO said: "iNADO is deeply concerned by the control that the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee exercise over RUSADA.

"This was made evident today in the dismissal of Yuriy Ganus as director general by these two organisations."

It added: "It is a clear conflict of interest when sport organisations have the power to remove the head of a national anti-doping agency unopposed."

I have scoliosis. Constant stinging sensations, unintentional bad posture and stares from strangers that slowly leads to dwindling confidence are just some of its effects. Luckily the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt helped me.

I was diagnosed in 2010. My type of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis.

Doctors don’t know the exact reason for a curved spine and so I don’t have all the answers.

It's frustrating.

Still, I had no choice but to live with it and reduce some of its effects. I started with the physical ones; my curved spine, uneven shoulders etc. My doctor, at the time, suggested I get a back brace. I did. People with scoliosis get a brace to restrict further curvature of the spine. A brace does not correct the curve at all, surgery does that.

While my bulky brace prevented my curve from getting worse, the attention it brought lessened my confidence.

People were rude. Especially when I wore my brace outside of my clothes to reduce the impressions and bruises it left on my skin after long hours of wearing it (I was allowed to remove my brace for showers only).

However, there were others who were genuine and encouraging. On some random day a curious man asked me about my back brace. I told him the basics and he replied, “do you know who also has scoliosis? Usain Bolt!”

According to Bolt’s autobiography, ‘Faster Than Lightning Bolt’, scoliosis curved his spine to the right and made his right leg half an inch shorter than his left.

Research studies were conducted to examine it more closely. Researchers are eager to know if his scoliosis works for, or against him in races.

An article published on July 2017 in the New York Times headlined, ‘Something Strange in Usain Bolt’s Stride’ said, “shortly after Bolt retires, the Southern Methodist University (S.M.U.) researchers hope to persuade him to visit their lab for more direct testing on a treadmill.”

The last thing on my mind was believing that Bolt could be a guinea pig. Instead, I thought about the hope that his exceptional performances gave me in spite of having scoliosis.

Happy 34th Birthday Bolt. Overcoming the emotional effects of scoliosis seemed nearly impossible until I witnessed your fearlessness.

I owe you a big thank you!

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would have been done and dusted 10 days ago and sports fans across the world would still be gathering around water coolers and office enclosures buzzing about the spectacular show put on by the world’s greatest athletes.

There is something special about the first time.

The first time you saw your child walk or talk, first day of high school, first time you did something significant in sport from as small as the first match at any level all the way to a first World Cup, first century, first goal, first triple-double, first Gold medal for country.

No matter the level or scale, first times tend to be heartwarming and often unforgettable and not just for those achieving but equally for those witnessing it.

That is exactly how I feel about a Commonwealth Gold medal won by a Jamaican at the 2002 Games in Manchester, England.

Yes.

A commonwealth Gold medal.

It was won by Jamaica’s Claston Bernard in the Men’s Decathlon, making him the first Caribbean athlete to secure a medal in this event at the Commonwealth, World or Olympic level.

I was only 12 years old at the time and barely knew anything about the Games and it’s history but I vividly recall sportscasters and analysts discussing with shock that Bernard, a 23-year-old from St Elizabeth, Jamaica, was leading the Decathlon after day one.

Bernard had accumulated 4285 points on day one, almost 300 points clear of Scotland’s Jamie Quarry who had tallied 4015 points.

By the end of day two, shock had turned to celebration as sportscasters across various stations in Jamaica led with news that history had been created and the country had it’s first-ever Decathlon Gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games.

I myself beamed with pride and joy for a man I had never heard about before then, but one who was the country’s first.

By no means did Bernard hit his best performances in that competition. He ended up scoring 7830 points which was off his lifetime best of 8094 points set just over a month prior.

He also set just one personal best, 56.34 metres in the Javelin throw which all but secured victory.

However, at the time, I knew none of those details and to be honest, none of them mattered.

What mattered was that this former Munro College and Louisiana State University graduate had set a new standard and given hope to every young Jamaican and maybe even Caribbean athlete who might not be great at any one event but could deliver when 10 were combined.

Injuries hindered his overall development and he never quite hit the heights one would have hoped at the World Championship and Olympic levels but the foundation was set.

Since his triumph, the Caribbean has won three more medals in the Decathlon at the Commonwealth Games and one at the IAAF World Championships.

Maurice Smith, with a silver medal at Melbourne 2006, Grenada’s Kurt Felix with Bronze at Glasgow 2014 and his brother Lindon Victor with Gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Games are the English-speaking Caribbean athletes to have graced the Commonwealth Games medal podium since Bernard’s breakthrough.

Smith took an even bigger step when he became the first English-speaking Caribbean athlete to win a global medal in the event, silver at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

Smith, for sure, who eventually competed alongside Bernard must have gained some inspiration from his fellow Jamaican.

And while we remember and celebrate Maurice’s effort at the global level, we must never forget that Claston Bernard, on July 28, 2002, made a significant contribution by becoming Jamaica’s first and the first for the English-speaking Caribbean.

Olympic 400-metre champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who is likely to just run the 200 metres in Tokyo next year, has sent a strong message to her opponents after a sub-11-second clocking at the Back to the Track meet in Claremont on Friday.

Miller-Uibo, who has tried in vain to have the 400 and 200 metres spread out at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, will likely be running just the half-lap event and not defending her title.

She went a long way on Friday to show she was getting faster, clocking 10.98 to smash her personal best twice after first easing to 11.03 in the heats.

The time puts Miller-Uibo in rarified air, the tall Bahamian now just one of four women to ever run sub-11 over 100 metres, sub-22 over 200, and sub-49 over 400.

Miller-Uibo got the better of 17-year-old United States athlete Tamari Davis, who clocked 11.15 seconds, and Jamaica’s Natalliah White, 11.19.

Usain Bolt’s Olympic exploits have been voted the most stunning of Olympic moments by the Mail Online’s Sportsmail.

The rescheduled Tokyo Games cannot go ahead if the present global health situation persists, the chairman of the Olympics organising committee has admitted.

Friday was supposed to be the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus pandemic saw the Games postponed until 2021.

Organising chief Yoshiro Mori was asked by national broadcaster NHK if the Olympics would be able to go ahead if things were unchanged.

"If the current situation continues, we couldn't," he said, before adding that he believes such a scenario is hypothetical and the outlook will improve.

"I can't imagine a situation like this will continue for another year."

Mori stated that finding a vaccine is likely to be crucial for the Olympics to take place in 2021.

"Whether the Olympics can be done or not is about whether humanity can beat the coronavirus. Specifically, the first point will be that a vaccine or drug has been developed," Mori added.

International Olympics Committee chief Thomas Bach recently suggested the Olympics may go ahead with reduced spectator numbers.

Mori suggested Bach was referring to a worst-case scenario and, while acknowledging different scenarios may have to be looked at if the pandemic continues as it is now, he is against a behind-closed-doors Olympics.

"We shouldn't make spectators go through hard times. Sporting events are all about the whole country empathising," Mori told Kyodo News.

In 2008 at Jamaica’s National Senior Championships in Kingston, a relatively unknown sprinter called Shelly-Ann Fraser stunned a nation when she finished second in the 100m behind Kerron Stewart, who clocked 10.80. Her time of 10.82 was a surprise to many but the bigger surprise was that she beat her more celebrated compatriots Sherone Simpson (10.86) and Veronica Campbell Brown, who was fourth in 10.88.

 There was a national outcry for Campbell-Brown to replace the greenhorn from the MVP Track Club. Surely, she would not be able to go to Beijing and do better than Campbell-Brown, the seasoned campaigner who won gold over 200m in Athens four years before and the 100m title in Osaka in 2007.

Stung by the naysayers calling for her head Fraser silenced them by becoming the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic 100m title as Jamaica finished 1-2-2 in the finals. She would go on to win another Olympic 100m title four years later in London and just last year won an unprecedented fourth 100m title in Doha in 2019.

A 200m World title and an Olympic 200m silver medal have cemented her a legacy as arguably Jamaica’s greatest female sprinter and one of the best of all time.

She now says that she forgives those naysayers because she understands why they did.

"I’m not gonna say I blame them. I cannot because at the time Veronica was a sure thing,” Fraser-Pryce said during an interview with Yendi Phillips on her YouTube show Odyssey, Untold Journeys with Yendi.

“Looking back now I cannot say I would have sit down in my days and be at home and somebody say ‘Veronica naw run’ and me would a probably take that. Me woulda say ‘No, mi waan Veronica run,” said the four-time 100m World Champion.

“I remember watching that Olympics, 2004 Olympics, at home. Veronica was the standard. So I cannot imagine that they would have said anything different and I understand.

 I have forgiven all of that. I have moved on because I understand that while it shouldn’t have happened based on the rules, I understand where everybody was coming from and I think at the end of the day, I’m glad that I was able to open the doors for younger athletes to understand that anything that you set out to achieve, your age, it don’t matter. When you’re ready, you show up, and you go out there and you go after it.”

Natalliah Whyte doesn’t remember much about her gold medal performance at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. She does remember the feeling of winning and it has been driving her on to win another medal at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan next year.

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