Barbadian Olympic bronze medallist, Obadele Thompson, has revealed that he was overcome with a sense of relief after crossing the line third at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The historic bronze medal was the first for the sprinter and first for Barbados as an independent nation, but the sprinter had battled through his fair share of disappointment prior to securing the breakthrough.

Before that, Thompson had finished outside of the medals at the previous four major games (3 World Championships and 1 Olympics) and even before that fourth at the World Junior Championships in 1994.

Finally, though, his hard work did off in Sydney.

“Crossing third was a huge relief.  I had placed fourth at so many other championships.  I came fourth at the World Youth Championships, fourth in 1996, in the 200, when Michael Johnson set his amazing world record.  I came fourth the year before, in 1999, in the 100m and 200m,” Thompson told SportsMax.Tv’s InCaseYouMissedIT.

“To be able to cross the line and finally know I was going to be on the podium was a big deal, and to know that Barbados, never seen our flag raised at a global championship of that magnitude before was an amazing feeling,” he added. (Watch full interview below)

Still, the former athlete, as tends to be the case, admits that he also felt some amount of disappointment as the results of the race could have been even better.

“It was also disappointing, I knew I was in better shape, coming to the Olympic Games with an injury that I sustained about six weeks before and I had to come off the European circuit after running really well in the 100m.  The only person that was beating me was Maurice Green,” Thompson said.

“Having to leave the circuit, dealing with the injury, and not knowing if I would be able to compete, it was also a blessing to have made it down that track.”

 

 

 In just two days, team Jamaica has received news of two unexpected injury blows to start the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

2018 Commonwealth Games steeplechase champion, Aisha Praught Leer, has revealed via social media that she injured her left knee in training on Sunday, which later turned out to be a torn meniscus.

The athlete will, however, still attempt to compete at the Games after taking an injection to the joint.

"I will line up in Tokyo.  When I arrive I will get fluid drained from my knee and take a cortisone injection (this is legal, and my surgeon understands and supports me in this)

The unfortunate injury occurred during what she described as one of the ‘best workouts’ of her life.  The athlete explained that she felt excruciating pain as if something had torn.

“I tore my meniscus (a complete, off the bone root tear) on Sunday at training—a freak, shocking accident. I heard and felt a painful pop doing a drill but then proceeded to do one of the best workouts of my life. On Wednesday I got an MRI, then sat in quiet disbelief with Joe Bosshard as the doctor told us I need surgery ASAP.”

The always-smiling athlete is scheduled to compete in the 1500m that is set to get underway on Sunday, at 7:35 pm.  Naturally, she is heartbroken because she will not be able to compete at her maximum ability.

“I want to keep believing in the possibility of achieving the wild dreams I store deep in my heart. The reality is they will not happen in Tokyo—running to my ability is simply not possible on a knee without stability. This is the most challenging reality I have faced in my career,” Praught Leer said.

“We did nothing wrong. As I said, this was a freak accident. But now all of my silent work, the beautiful, hard-earned fitness, does not have a chance to see the light of day. The triumph I have visualized so vividly is—poof—gone in one step,” Leer lamented.

Although she understands that unexpected injuries are a part of sports, it is still a tough reality for her to accept.

“I understand this is sport—just sport. I know the truth that I am more than an athlete. But this sport means everything to me. This is my life’s work, my purpose, and my first true love. I am heartbroken.”

The athlete, who created history, being the first Jamaican to win gold in the steeplechase event at the Commonwealth Games, insists she will be proud to represent the country despite not being in top shape. 

“You will see me smiling in Tokyo with Jamaica on my chest because the honour of representing my country is one of the greatest I’ve had in my little life.”

On Thursday, news broke that gymnast Danusia Francis had suffered an injury to her left knee, which later turned out to be a torn ACL.  Francis will not be able to compete in her events.  She will, however, symbolically take part in the Uneven Bars event but will not attempt a dismount.

 

 

 

The Jamaican sprinter is looking for her third Olympic 100m gold.

Former 100m world record holder and Olympic champion Donovan Bailey believes Jamaica’s women could sweep the blue ribband event in Tokyo.

Heading into the women’s 100m, it is the Jamaican trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson who have clocked the fastest times over the distance this year.

Out front, is reigning world champion and two-time winner of the event Fraser-Pryce, with her best time of 10.63, which was recorded last month.  The time was the second-fastest time ever recorded over the distance and fastest in 33 years.

Next up, reigning Olympic champion Thompson-Herah has a season-best of 10.71, a run that she recorded a few weeks ago.  American sprinter Sha’carri Richardson is next on the world's top list with her time of 10.72, which was recorded in April.  Richardson will, however, miss out on the Games after testing positive for marijuana last month.

Jackson, formerly a 400m specialist, had a breakout performance in the sprints last month where she recorded a personal best of 10.77, at the country’s national trials where she was second behind Fraser-Pryce.  The fourth-fastest this year, by an athlete, and certainly puts the 27-year-old firmly in the conversation.

“The women’s 100m will be won by Shelly-Ann Fraser, that's my personal favourite.  I really think Jamaica has the opportunity to sweep.  I think Shericka Jackson has something up her sleeve,” Bailey said during the SportsMax.Tv special series Great Ones.

“We know Elaine will be there, but I think Shelly-Ann is going to get up and keep Elaine out, but I think Shericka Jackson has something for somebody,” he added.

In addition to their fast times this season, all three Jamaicans have the experience of standing on the medal podium.  Fraser-Pryce won the event at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while Thompson-Herah won the 2016 edition.  It will be Jackson’s first time competing at the event, but she claimed a bronze medal in the 400m at the 2016 Rio Games.

“I was looking forward to this race because I really wanted to see Sha’Carri Richardson under the spotlight with the greatest sprinters of this generation.  I was looking forward to that,” Bailey said.

“The men’s final is open but the women’s final for me is a little more straightforward.  When the lights shine bright, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will not back down.”

Jamaica long jumper Tajay Gayle looks set to add an Olympic medal to the gold he won at the 2019 edition of the World Athletics Championship in Doha.

The Jamaica national champion’s best distance this year is 8.29, well short of the 8.60 recorded by world leader, Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou in May.

However, track and field analyst and SportsMax.tv Tokyo Take host Leighton Levy believes the jumper's improvements in other areas will make him a force to be reckoned with when he faces the field in Tokyo.

“I think Gayle is going to fly in the long jump and be among the medals, gold even,” Levy said on this week’s episode. (See full episode below)

“His improved speed is an asset and once he makes the adjustments on the runway for that additional speed, we are in for a spectacular performance from Gayle.”

The jumper has, in fact, shown off plenty of improved speed after recording new personal bests in both the 60m and 100m sprints this season.  Gayle ran 6.78 in the later in February but was even more impressive in the 100, clocking 10.18 to shave huge chunks off his previous personal best of 10.74.  Gayle’s personal best of 8.69, in the long jump, was set in 2019.

Iconic St Lucian high jumper Levern Spencer is yet to achieve her dream of standing on the Olympic medal podium, but very few could dispute the great heights she has already achieved for the tiny island and the wider Caribbean as a whole.

It would have been easy to sit back and accept that odds are stacked against her.  After all, she hails from an island with a population of less than 200,000 and much fewer resources to spare for sport than much bigger nations. 

She did not begin competing in the sport until 14, much later than many of her peers, and at 5’ 9’ in a field where competitors consistently range well over 6ft she is routinely one of the smallest.  But, throughout her life and career, Spencer has habitually slain her fair share of Goliaths.

What she may lack in height, is more than made up for in a big heart filled with determination that has driven her journey of unprecedented achievement so far and the burning desire to keep flying higher.

In total, Spencer, who began representing St Lucia as a junior some 22-years ago, has claimed 21 gold medals for her country so far.  Most famously, she won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, a first for both herself and her country.  It was a proud moment.

“St Lucia had never won a gold medal at this event, and it was my fifth Commonwealth Games, and winning a gold, having won two bronze medals in 2014 and 2010, it was a big deal for us,” Spencer recalled.

 Levern Spencer Wins High Jump Title At Hvezdy v Nehvizdech | World-Track  and Field Website

 

“Being the one to create history is something I will always remember…whenever I stand on the podium hearing my country’s national anthem, seeing the flag being flown, it’s always very special and emotional.  I always had in the back of the mind that it is because of my efforts, because of something I did,” she added.

As with a great many things, barring a twist of fate, the world might never have heard of Spencer.  Things could have turned out much differently for herself and the country.  The athlete did not consider doing the jumps as a very young athlete and only gave it some consideration after it was suggested by a teacher.

“One of my teachers at the time just advised that I do the high jump for my house (intra-school team) and I won the event not knowing anything about technique or the high jump.  So, I’m so thankful that I did not say no and gave it a try,” Spencer said.

“I’m just happy that, that teacher who was my first coach as well, Mr. Gregory Lewin, introduced me to the sport.  Sometimes it’s good to listen and say yes, you’ll give it a try.  Maybe if I had said no, I probably would not have been the high jumper I am today.”

The rest as they say is history, in addition to winning numerous medals and awards, Spencer went on break the county’s national records on several occasions.  In fact, she set the first when she was just a 14-year-old, not too long after starting the event.  She set the current mark of 1.98m in 2010.

At 37, the jumper is heading into the twilight of her career and the time for Olympic glory has all but run out.  Heading into her fourth Olympic Games, however, hope burns eternal that she may be able to create history for St Lucia, yet again, but this time on the grandest of stages.  Spencer knows it will take something extraordinary.

“In order to win Olympic gold, I would definitely need something special on that day.  It might take around a clearance of 2m, which I haven’t done but it’s possible, anything is possible.  I would need something special on that day,” she said.

“Two high jumpers that inspire me are Ruth Beitia and Chaunte Lowe, Ruth despite her age and not having an Olympic medal after three attempts, just like me, she kept going until she won her gold medal and 37 and Chaunte because like me she is one of the smallest in the field and always manages to be competitive despite having to overcome so many challenges.”

In truth, however, even if the athlete were to leave the Games empty-handed, perhaps, for the final time, she had more importantly already served as inspiration for future generations and when it comes to putting her country on the map, flew well clear of that bar, with plenty to spare, a long time ago.

“Despite the many medals that I have won, what I regard as my biggest success in my athletic career is that coming from a tiny nation of only 180,000 people I was able to work hard and be competitive against the best in the world.  Sometimes on many occasions defeating them.  I am happy I have served as an inspiration for up-and-coming St Lucian athletes and I know that I gave my all and my best at whatever I did and persevered to the end.”

2011 World Champion Yohan Blake clocked his fastest time this year after winning the men’s 100m at Friday’s American Track League in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 31-year-old got a solid start before putting away the field to finish in a time of 9.95.  The Jamaican was the only athlete in the field to dip below 10 seconds.

American Elijah Hall was second in 10.08 and his compatriot Kyree King third in 10.12.  Another Caribbean athlete in the race, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Jason Rodgers was fifth in 10.26.  Another Jamaican, Javoy Tucker finished eighth in 10.35.

Blake finished in second position at his country’s national trials two weeks ago but has vowed to leave the Olympic Games later this month with a medal.  The sprinter, who has the second-fastest time recorded over both the 100m and 200m was excited by his performance with the Olympics just a few weeks away.

“I am very excited about the time; give God thanks,” said Blake.

“This is going to be my last Olympic, and I am looking forward to it. Definitely, I am not leaving that stadium (Tokyo 2020) without a medal.”

 On reflection, three-time Jamaica national 400m hurdles champion Janieve Russell can’t help but think that it was her destiny to compete in the event, after the fortuitous circumstances that led to her moving away from the long jump, a discipline near and dear to her heart.

After a superb run that led to her blowing away the country’s best athletes, in a season-best of 54.04 seconds, to claim the Women's 400m Hurdles title at the Jamaica National Championships, it was clearly a great choice but for a long time, one that wasn’t even on the cards.

In fact, Russell spent the majority of her junior career as a long jumper and competed successfully at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships for her high school, Holmwood, in the event.  The 2019 World 400m hurdles silver medalist now believes wholeheartedly that the track itself called her to her destined event after the unexpected way she ended up competing in it.

"I believe the track was choosing my destiny for me because I really love long jump; that was my main event back in high school and by some chance, I was entered to the 400m Hurdles because someone on the team had to pull out. And then, I just continued, went to MVP and the coach said you are going to stick to the hurdles, not the long jump,” Russell explained.

Russell has had a solid career, and in addition to the three national titles, has picked up wins at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup.

Winning her third national title was a special moment for Russell, who admitted that she fully expected to be up against a challenging field. Her top priority though was to finish in an automatic spot, then channel all her energy to focusing on Tokyo.

"It is a tough field in the 400m hurdles event this year, so I am just using these trials to work on my mental state and I am just really happy to come out on top because my aim was just to be in the top three and just be on the Olympic team,” Russell said.

Off the back of a rectus femoris injury (acute tearing injury of the quadriceps) that she suffered in 2016, Russell insists that she has gotten stronger physically and mentally. 

"My MVP team and I have been working hard on our mental training, been working on my physical (fitness), ensuring that I am not injury prone, because, trust me, two weeks or one week before any trials I have always had an injury. I have been very careful this year, I have been eating properly, I have been doing everything by the book and I am just really grateful again to be out here by the grace of God to compete injury-free and to be on top."

Though she is a decorated nine-time gold medalist at the CARIFTA Games and a double gold medalist at the 2012 World Junior Championships, Russell’s ultimate aim is to match the feats of Deon Hemmings and Melanie Walker who both won gold medals for the country at the Olympic level.

"I will definitely try, as I said before it is a very tough field. I am just going out there with guts and to just represent my country, come out with a personal best and just do the best I can."

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will run from July 23 to August 8.

 

Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah legitimately feared missing out on a chance to defend her Olympic titles because of a longstanding, ongoing injury issue.

The athlete finished third in both the 100m and 200m at last month’s Jamaica National Championships but admits for a few weeks leading up to the event she was not sure she could have taken part.

The 29-year-old said that leading up to the national trials, she suffered from an Achilles injury that earlier forced her to withdraw from the Gateshead Diamond League event that she was scheduled to compete in on the 23rd of May.

“It’s that same Achilles injury, it’s been bothering me for almost five years now…it’s not that bad for surgery but it’s overworked I guess, so I have to monitor it properly, Thompson-Herah revealed.

The athlete put in a dominant performance at the Rio Olympics five years ago, where she won gold in both sprint events and silver in the women’s 4x100m relay.

The result at the national trials might not have been exactly what she wanted, but Thompson-Herah maintains she is grateful that she managed to at least finish third in both events, and with that securing the chance to win back-to-back Olympic titles.

“It’s been a challenging month, over the last month I have been in a lot of pain. I drew God closer and said God I am talking to you now, help me to do this at the trials,” Thompson said.

“I spoke to my coach and asked coach ‘will I be able to go to the trials?’ because I was in so much pain. But, I can’t complain, I am not frowning I am smiling through my pain, I have made my second Olympics and I am super excited, the work has to go on.”

Despite the fact that she was hampered by the injury, Thompson-Herah knows that she had to work that much harder, as the competition to secure spots on the team remains fierce.

“A lot of females are out here, and they are hungry for the Olympics, it’s the Olympics, everybody wants to go to the Olympics. I am the reigning Olympic champion, so everybody wants to get to that line (first), myself included.”

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games inches closer, quizzed about her expectations, Thompson-Herah insisted she would not be placing any pressure unnecessary expectations on herself, as she focuses on herself and her well-being.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself, my main focus is me and my health, I just put in some more work, reset and refocus.”

 

 

Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson continues to send clear signals that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the sprints this Olympics, after registering a convincing win over the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, at the Gyulai István Memorial meet, on Tuesday.

Jackson, who was formerly a 400m specialist, stepped down to the shorter distances this year and has had impressive results.  The sprinter clocked new personal bests of 10.77 and 21.82 last month at her country’s national championships.

In Hungary, on Tuesday, the runner continued in that vein, dismissing the field to finish first in 21.96.  Jackson seized control of the race early and comfortably held off a typically fast-finishing Miller-Uibo, who took second in 22.15.  Dafne Schippers, the 2017 World Champion, was third in 22.70.

In other action, both Caribbean athletes in the men’s 110m hurdles failed to secure a podium spot.  Jamaica’s Ronald Levy finished fourth with a time of 13.25 and Shane Brathwaite was 7th in 14.10.  The race was won by the United States’ Grant Halloway who took the top spot with a time of 13.08.

In the women’s 400m hurdles, Jamaica’s Janieve Russell took third in a season’s best 53.68.  The race was won by Netherland’s Femke Bol in a meet record 52.81.

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