Reigning sprint double world record holder, Usain Bolt, insists he would not be perturbed if his world records were broken with the aid of advancing athletics shoe technology.

Recently, athletics sportswear giant Nike unveiled the controversial Nike Zoom Air Viperfly spikes.  The shoe's advance design has a carbon fibre mechanism under the ball of the foot that acts like a springboard, which will generate more power in the sprinter's stride and hence lead to faster times.  The technology is geared towards helping the athlete in the last 20 metres of the race.

This version of the shoe, which has been designed specifically with 100m sprinters in mind, as it stands, will not be produced for this summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  This is due to the fact that the design currently falls afoul of the World Athletics regulations.

At some point, however, the introduction of such technology is bound to give athletes chasing the Jamaican’s marks a big advantage.  Bolt insists, however, that he has always placed more emphasis on titles in any case and would not be fretting over the records.

“I’m not going to be worried.  The fact that everyone will know why then it doesn’t bother me.  As I’ve always said, I’m happy to be the fastest man in the world but it was always the gold medals that mattered to me because that is how you really prove yourself,” Bolt told CNN.

“There are so many people that can say I am a former World record holder, but they're not a lot that can say I won three Olympic gold medals (In one event), back-to-back,” he added.

“To me, that is why I pushed myself so hard to dominate because I know at any point in time anyone can break your world record.  If you put so much emphasis on that, then what would you have left?”

Bolt’s world-leading marks of 9.58, in the 100m, and 19.19, in the 200m, have stood since 2009.  The Jamaican retired from the sport in 2017.

Jamaica sprinter Kevona Davis finished in third position, in heat 9 of the 200m time-final, at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas on Saturday.

In her first year from high school, out of Jamaica, the Texas Longhorn clocked 23.47 to finish behind LSU’s Symone Mason and Florida’s Talitha Diggs who crossed the line first in a personal best of 22.94.

Also in action was St Lucian, Julien Alfred, who also competes for the Longhorns.  Alfred finished in second place after competing in heat 6 where she crossed the line in 23.53.  The event was won by Arkansas's Jada Baylark who took top spot in 23.49.  Stacy-Ann Williams took third place in 23.66.  Jamaica’s Kemba Wilson of Oregon was also listed to compete in the heat but did not face the starter.

The fastest time of the event was clocked by Texas’s Kynnedy Flannel, who took heat 10 in a personal best 22.73, finishing behind her was Alabama’s Tamara Clarke, who was second in 22.89, a season’s best. 

In men’s action, Oregon’s Xavier Nairne, another Jamaican, clocked a personal best 21.14 to win heat 4 of the men’s 200m.  Nairne finished ahead of teammate Jacoby Mcnamara and Texas’ Caleb Hulbin.  Philip Lemonius of Arkansas also took top spot after claiming heat 1.

Canadian track star, Andre De Grasse, admits to being impressed with the rapid progress of young Jamaica quarter-miler Christopher Taylor.

These days, the athletes often cross paths as both train in Florida with well-respected coach Rana Reider.  Taylor recently opened his season with a quick 45.73 clocking to finish second in the men’s Indoor 400m at the World Athletics Tour in Fayetteville, Arkansas a few weeks ago.

The outing was the prodigy’s first 400m race since 2019, but he had also surprised many last year with a brisk 10.42 over 100m.  De Grasse would, however, not have been among those surprised by the high level of those recent performances.

“He very talented, very, very talented.  Sometimes I ask the coach to put me in a workout with him because he is very good for 300 workouts for me when I am preparing for the 200m,” De Grasse told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators.

“He is very good.  He just ran the other day and I am really happy for him.  His problem the last couple of years is trying to stay fit and he is very healthy right now and feeling good,” he added.

“It was very impressive (recent run) especially for an indoor season, he’s never done it before, so by the time he comes outdoor he should be in good shape.  I’ve been watching him, he’s been in the group for a couple of years now but I think he is taking a lot of things more seriously.”

Listen to the rest of the interview from this week's The Commentators podcast below.

 
 

 

Coach of local track and field club Sprint Tech, Maurice Wilson, admits that he is eager to see local track and field meets return to the island, with the Olympic Games just a few months away.

With the island still firmly in the grips of battling the coronavirus pandemic, local track meets have for the most part remain shuttered.  However, following an announcement by prime minister Andrew Holness last week, expectations are high that the situation will be remedied over the next few weeks.

“I’m hoping that it will be four weeks, five weeks, no more than that before we can get back to competition, sooner rather than later,” Wilson told Television Jamaica.

With COVID-19 protocols remaining in effect, however, meets that restart will not be business as usual and several adjustments will have to be made in order to comply with the regulations.

“I’d like to think that the longer we take to get back to regular competition is the more creative we will have to get.  We did that in the summer when MVP organized the Velocity Fest meets and we were a part of that…I think that we will have to be creative as well and move forward until things are regularised.”

Jamaica middle-distance runner, Aisha Praught-Leer, has signed with sporting goods giants Puma ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held later this year.

The 31-years-old Praught-Leer is Jamaica’s record holder in the 3000m Steeplechase event and represented the country at the 2015 and 2017 IAAF World Championships, as well as the 2016 Olympics, where she qualified for the final.

In addition, the athlete also captured gold in the event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.  Praught-Leer has, however, contemplated switching events to try her hand at competing in the 1500m. 

The athlete had hoped to make her 1500m Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but like many others had to set aside those plans as the event was postponed due to the onslaught of the coronavirus.  She has already begun her quest to qualify for this summer's Games by targeting three events, the 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, and 1500m.  She currently has personal best times of 15:07.50 in the 5000m, 9:14.09 seconds in the 3000m steeplechase, and 4:05.52 in the 1500 metres.

Praught-Leer previously represented Under Armour after signing a contract with that brand in 2017, earlier this month, however, she announced via social media that her contract with the company had come to an end.

Jamaica track and field star, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, does not anticipate that age will be a barrier to achieving success when the 2021 Olympics finally rolls around.

 At 34, Fraser-Pryce will be one of the oldest women lined up to face the starter's gun, should the event eventually be staged in Tokyo later this year.  The 32nd Olympiad was initially slated to be staged last summer but was postponed due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The postponement of the quadrennial event has meant another year of training and preparation for some legendary athletes facing another race, the one against time.  The situation will not be an entirely new one for nine-time World champion and two-time Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce.  In 2019, at the age of 32, she became the oldest female sprinter to win a 100m world title.  In that event, by comparison, silver medalist, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was nine years her junior.  Showing herself to be very much at the top of her game in 2020, however, despite the havoc the global pandemic wrought on the international schedule, Fraser-Pryce is clearly in the mood to defy the odds yet again.

“Yes, I’m 33, but if I can come back from having my son and be able to stand on the podium, my age is not going to stop me.  I’m still going to work hard.  I’m still going to be committed and I’m grateful for the years of experience I’ve had,” Fraser-Pryce told the BBC.

"I'm probably older than most of the women in the race but so what? I'm just focusing on getting the job done and being happy."

A season of giving continued for double World U20 Champion and rising track star, Briana Williams, after a recent visit to the Office of the Prime Minister where she gifted Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness with printers for distribution to schools, as the country continues to navigate distance learning during the pandemic.

The effort was the latest in a series of philanthropic acts undertaken by the athlete, who also recently donated tablets to student-athletes and printing machinery to the Jamaica Cancer Society who produces large volumes of readouts of pap smears, mammograms, and testicular cancer screenings on a daily basis.  Williams also conducted a Christmas treat, in Montego Bay, in December.

The 18-year-old, who is also a patron of the Caribbean’s largest charity event, the Sigma Sagicor Run 2021, was lauded by the Prime Minister for her charitable efforts. 

“I am happy that our young people are being agents of change and are willing to help build our great nation through service. Keep up the good work, Briana,” he wrote on his social media pages.

For Williams, it was inspirational to meet the Prime Minister once again.  She was awarded the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in sports, in 2018, following her outstanding performances at the World Under-20 Championships and CARIFTA Games, where she won the coveted Austin Sealy award.

“It was an honour to sit with him and he was just so encouraging and inspirational. Just being able to speak to him about my training and my preparations was so uplifting for me. He also promised to match my donation by purchasing printers for distribution to more schools as well. I know that if each of us contributes in some way, we can help Jamaica recover stronger, so I’m just happy to play my part,” said Williams.

Williams was accompanied by her manager Tanya Lee and Dominique Walker, CEO of Printware Online who provided the printers.

Wolmer’s Boys School will join forces with top locally based track club MVP in a bid to turn around its high school track and field program.

The 14-time Boys Championships winner last claimed the title in 2010, on the 100th year anniversary of the competition.  Though being typically there or thereabout, the school has not been able to consistently compete for the Mortimer Geddes trophy.

The shakeup will see the school part ways with noted high school track and field coach Danny Hawthorne, who took over the job in 2016.  The annual track and field event was cancelled last year, due to the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, but the team has finished outside of the top five for the previous three years claiming 6th place positions in 2017, 2018, and 2019 editions.  MVP club president Bruce James, a former student at the institution, confirmed the existence of the new arrangements.

“The headmaster of Wolmer’s Mr. Pennycoke has invited the MVP track club to play a positive role in the redevelopment of the Wolmer’s Boys track team, this takes effect on the first of January 2021,” James told Television Jamaica.

“The Wolmer’s Boys school happens to be where the MVP track and field club was founded and the MVP club’s management consists of Wolmer’s old boys such as Stephen Francis, Paul Francis, Andre Edwards, so we are happy to help the Wolmer’s Boys track and field team and the program he is building,” he added.  

 

Double World U-20 champion Briana Williams provided a Christmas treat, by way of a motorcade, for children of the Paradise Acres community in Norwood, Montego Bay, over the festive weekend.

  Williams, who joined the senior ranks at the start of 2020, was joined by her management team and ‘Santa Claus’ who handed gifts to over 100 children from the community where her mother spent her childhood before migrating to the United States.

 The athlete who admitted to having had a good year, despite the negatives of the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed that the event was all about giving back.

“I have been tremendously blessed this year and I wanted to give back to a community that means so much to my family.  I wanted every child here to have a Merry Christmas,” Williams said.

The athlete’s Manager Tanya Lee confirms the event will be an annual undertaking, with future changes to its structure to be considered once the world is past the worst of the raging coronavirus pandemic.

"Things changed a little bit because of Covid restrictions, so we’re just driving through the community and handing out gifts responsibly. We will do the treat on a larger scale for next year, God’s willing. I have to big up Digicel, Grace Foods, Sagicor & Nike for their kind donations this year,” Lee said.

Grenadian quarter-miler, Bralon Taplin, has been slapped with additional sanctions by the World Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which will now see the athlete banned from competing until 2026.

Taplin, now 28, was handed a four-year ban last year after being charged with intentionally evading sample collection, following his 400m victory at the 2019 Grenada Invitational Athletics Competition.  The athlete was found to have left the stadium without completing doping control.  Taplin appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) earlier this year.

The athlete will, however, also now serve a sequential three-years on that sentence, this time for doping whereabouts violations that occurred in 2019.  According to a release issued by the AIU, Taplin was found to have missed tests on the 21st April, August 28th, and 25th of November. Based on the rules, any combination of three missed
tests and/or filing failures within any twelve-month period is considered a violation.   The Grenada Invitational Athletics concluded on the 13th of April.  On each of the occasions, the report claims a tester showed up at Taplin’s residence in Bryan, Texas, USA, and knocked for an hour before leaving having not received a response. 

Taplin, through an attorney, later contested the November 25th missed test after pointing out that he had been required to appear in court at the time of the stated test and did not think there was time to adjust the whereabouts form.  After convening a tribunal, the AIU, however, later rejected the explanation provided by the athlete as insufficient.  The new three-year ban will take effect once the athlete has concluded the four-year period of ineligibility.

Taplin, who has a PB of 44.38, finished 7th in the 400m at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Antigua and Barbuda track and field star Daniel Bailey has launched a broadside on the county’s National Olympic Committee (NOC), who he accuses of being a 'sham' and not caring about the nation’s athletes.

The 34-year, who has represented the county at the Olympic Games on several occasions, retired from international competition in 2018, pointing to the exorbitant cost of competing as a major factor in his decision. 

Earlier this year, Bailey announced that he had decided to return to the sport in order to compete at next year’s Olympic Games.  It seems, however, that some things have yet to change.

“They turned down my stuff and I left it alone, but I knew that was going to happen and I just think that the NOC is a sham because they don’t care about the athletes,” Bailey said recently on the Good Morning Jojo sports show.

“It is the first time I have sent the NOC an email about funding and the murmuring stated as to why Bakka want this and why Bakka wants that but at the end of the day, the money does not belong to any one of them and without the athletes, they can’t get any funding,” he added.

Earlier this year, EP Chet Greene, politician, and president of the NOC pledged to support the athlete after learning of his bid to qualify for the Olympics.

Bailey’s scorn was not, however, limited to the NOC as he reflected on a long career of footing his own expense.

“For the majority, I had to do it myself along with two or three corporate sponsors.  The NOC is not coming on board, the athletics association is not coming on board and the Ministry of Sports is not coming on board.  At the age of 18 years, I left for Jamaica on an IOC scholarship, and ever since then I have never gotten any help from the NOC, the government nor the Ministry of Sports.  I have been to four Olympic Games, spent 100s of thousands of dollars on myself, and represented this country without a dollar from anybody.”

Bailey, who has a personal best of 9.91, has made it to the semi-finals of two Olympic Games and was fourth at the 2009 World Championships.

Jamaica sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah has been included in a shortlist of five athletes in contention for the World Athletics 2020 Female Athlete of the Year.

Despite the pandemic wreaking havoc upon the international track and field calendar, the Jamaican managed to put together a series of strong performances.  Thompson-Herah ran unbeaten over seven races in which she also set a world-leading 10.85 over the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Rome. She also closed the season with a strong 10.87s in Doha.

Making the final five with Thompson-Herah are Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) Sifan Hassan, Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir, and Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela).  Gidey set a world record of 14:06.62 over 5000m and was second in the 5000m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco. Hassan also set a world record in the one hour run as well as a European record of 29:36.67 over 10,000m, the fourth-fastest performance in history.  Jepchirchir won the world half marathon title and twice broke the world half-marathon record, while Rojas was undefeated in four triple jump competitions indoors and outdoors and broke the world indoor triple jump record with 15.43m.

The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live at the World Athletics Awards 2020 to be staged as a virtual event on Saturday 5 December and streamed live on the World Athletics YouTube channel, its Facebook page, and via Twitter.

 

 

 

The resurfacing of Jamaica’s National Stadium track and a similar project at Catherine Hall Sports Complex are scheduled to get underway in coming months, according to Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange.

Both projects will fall within the remit of a government maintenance program geared towards ensuring that money is set aside for upgrading the island's stadiums.  According to Grange, resurfacing work at the National Stadium is expected to begin “any time now, with Catherine Hall Sports Complex penciled in as a priority for the next year.

According to Grange two factors will determine when the work gets going at the National Stadium.  The first is the fact that the track has to be laid on a completely dried surface, and the process must therefore await the end of seasonal rains.  The other factor is the ability of the manufacturers' representatives, BSW of Germany, to leave Germany to come to Jamaica to supervise the project and that will depend on COVID restrictions.

“The material for the resurfacing of the Stadium track is on site. Upgrading after 10 years of usage is now necessary for the track to retain its Class 1 certification by World Athletics, formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations. The track was laid in 2010 with a projected lifespan of eight years. But because of maintenance and care we were able to extend it by another two years to 2020,” Grange said.

 “The Government is putting a maintenance/replacement program to ensure that there is money for upgrading stadiums. It is through such a plan for the National Stadium that we have money for a new track. Money was actually put aside for the National Stadium because of proper planning and going forward we will be using that approach for upgrading of the facilities.”

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