Despite the intense rivalry they shared on the track during the 1990s, two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers said she always admired and respected Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for her talent and longevity.

The rivals met in a number of major finals that were talked about for years, especially the epic 1993 World Championships 100m finals in Stuttgart, Germany and the Olympic Games in Atlanta, three years later.

Prior to those two years, Devers and Ottey met in the finals of the 100m finals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 when Devers won her first Olympic 100 title in 10.80s. Ottey was fifth in 10.88 in one of the closest finals in history. 0.08 seconds separated the first five places.

That race marked the beginning of a tense rivalry between Devers and Ottey that would only intensify over the next four years.

In Stuttgart, Devers got off to a flyer and was ahead midway the race but she was being reeled in by a fast-closing Ottey, who with her final strides appeared to have caught the diminutive American as they crossed the line together.

Unsure of who won, the finalists stood around looking up at the scoreboard for what seemed like an eternity. Officials eventually announced that Devers had been awarded the victory even though both she and the Jamaican icon were given the same time of 10.82.

Jamaican protested the result but the decision upheld, handing the American.

By 1996, the 36-year-old Ottey was at her fifth Olympics, Devers her third, and once again they came face to face in the 100m finals and once again, history repeated itself. Devers got off to a great start only to be reeled in by Ottey and sure enough, they crossed the finish line together.

Both were timed in 10.94 but like in Stuttgart, the American was given the nod. The circumstances created tensions between the two countries and their athletes. However, Devers said those tensions were simply about competition.

“You just get caught up in ‘this is competition and you got coaches who say we’re going to protest this,” Devers told Ato Boldon on his Athletics Live show on Instagram last week.

She said she had no idea why things turned out the way they did, why it always seemed to come down to her and Ottey.

“It keeps coming up that it’s these two every time. I don’t know why it was always us but we were always willing to go to the wire,” she said.

Devers explained that in the early days' everyone kind of kept to themselves, leaving little to interact with her rivals.

“When we were competing, it was (Irina) Privalova, it was me, it was Gwen Torrence, it was that four that you could not pick who was going to win on that day,” she said.

“And we can’t duck each other, we gotta go, we gotta run, gotta bring you’re A-plus game because they’re bringing their A-game. So with Merlene, I always knew she was a great athlete and I would always tell her ‘You still running, shoot…”

She said that as time passed, they both got the chance to get to know each other and the tensions cooled.

“While you’re competing everybody is in their own camp, you don’t sit there and socialize anyway, but as we got older, going to awards ceremonies or even with social media, we were able to talk to each other,” she said.

“She knows that I have always admired her because I don’t care at what age, if she steps out there now I am concerned. You might want to be worried because if she is in the lane, she is ready to go.”

Jamaica’s Olympic hopefuls Charokee Young and Chrisann Gordon-Powell won their respective 400m races in contrasting fashion at the 2021 LSU Alumni Gold meet at the Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday.

 Shaunae Miller-Uibo believes she and her training partner Chrisann Gordon-Powell are in a good place following their respective season-opening races in the 400m yesterday.

Bahamian 400m World Champion, Steve Gardner, has expressed frustration with recent statements made by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations that suggested he had made himself unavailable for the World Athletics Relays.

Earlier this week, reports had claimed that a key reason for the country’s withdrawal from the World Relays was the unavailability of several athletes, included top stars Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

The quarter-miler has, however, insisted that things were quite the opposite and he had indeed made himself available to compete at the event.

“Each time there are relays to run, my name, my image, and my reputation gets dragged through the mud. I want to set the record straight,” Gardiner told The Bahamas Tribune.

“Ever since my first competition for the senior team it has been one conflict after another and my name is always brought up,” he added.

“My management did indicate to the BAAA my availability to compete at the 2021 World Relays.”

Gardiner and Miller-Uibo were part of a triumphant 4x400m mixed relays team at the 2017 Games, which was held in the Bahamas.

‘…I did indicate personally and through my management company that I was available to compete.”

 

 The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) has confirmed that it will not send a team to World Athletic Relays, set to take place in Chorzow, Poland, next month.

According to reports, the association like many has been affected adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic and was forced to give up on having a team at the event due to a lack of athletes able to participate.

Bahamian superstars Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner, through their representatives, indicated that they would not be willing to travel outside of the United States due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic and travel protocols.

“We didn’t have athletes who are available to compete,” President of the BAAA Drumeco Archer told The Bahamas Tribune.

“Shaunae (Miller-Uibo) and Steven (Gardiner) camp indicated that they have decided not to travel outside of the US because of COVID-19,” he added.

“And a lot of our elite athletes are still in university and college, who are not going to be released from their duties. So, we thought it would be prudent for us not just to take a team for the team’s sake. If we’re going to take a team, we will take a team that will have an impact.”

Earlier this week, another top Caribbean sprint nation, Jamaica, announced that it would not participate in the event due to the difficulty of travel and COVID-19 restrictions.

The Bahamas were hosts to the first three editions of the tournament.

Track and field legend and coach, Olympian Dennis Johnson, died on Thursday night after a month-long battle with Covid-19.

He was 81.

Considered the architect of the modern Jamaica track programme, Johnson started a sports program at the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) now the University of Technology in 1971. It was a programme that yielded Anthony Davis, Jamaica’s first home-grown Olympic athlete.

As head coach at CAST, Johnson, in the 1980s created the famous Bolts of Lightning 4x100m relay team, the first club side to break 40 seconds for the sprint relay. He also led CAST to a more than decade-long dominance of the Intercollegiate Championships.

It was Johnson in partnership with UTech and Stephen Francis that saw the world-famous MVP Track Club having its base on the college campus and producing a number of world-beating athletes like Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Frater-Pryce and Elaine Thompson.

Johnson, who was also Sports Director at Utech, was also an outstanding athlete. While attending San Jose State University in the United States, equalled the 100-yard world record of 9.3 seconds three times over a six-week span from March 11- May 5 that year.

Unfortunately, injury prevented him from competing for an NCAA title that year.

He was a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that finished fourth at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Fifth in the 110-yards at the British Empire Games of 1962, he was forced to withdraw from the 220 yards with a groin injury.

Johnson, who was affectionately called ‘DJ’ was inducted into the San Jose State Spartans Hall of Fame. In 2001, the same year he was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) by the government of Jamaica. He was awarded the UTech Chancellor’s medal in 2009 and in 2012, UTech renamed its athletes’ residence, previously known as the Track House, in Johnson's honour.

Mark Elliott, the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Clemson said there is an all-around excitement in response to the news that the university will no longer discontinue its men’s track and cross country programme.

Is Florence Griffith-Joyner, the greatest female sprinter of all time?

It depends on who you ask.

For many Americans, the late flamboyant American woman who holds the world record in both 100 and 200m, and also won three gold medals at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, is the one. Outside the US, the answer is not as clear as many believe that a certain Jamaican, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, is in fact the greatest.

This week, Olympian turned coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon might have changed one iconic American’s mind about who is truly the greatest female sprinter of all time.

During his Athletics Live interview on Instagram with Flo-Jo's best friend and two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers on Wednesday, Boldon asked Devers, who she thought was the greatest female sprinter. It was a question posed by a viewer.

‘I’ve got to go with the world-record holder,” said Devers matter-of-factly, after a brief pause. 

Boldon, a big fan of Griffith-Joyner, replied: “I get into trouble with that because I have to broadcast with my head and not my heart. I can’t have any allegiance and I look at what Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has done. Two gold medals and a bronze in back-to-back-to-back; the four world titles, more than anybody else, male or female. I know she doesn’t have the world record, obviously, but if you go ‘Tom Brady is the greatest or (basketball legend) Bill Russell or whoever is the greatest; it’s based on the championships,” Boldon opined while Devers nodded in agreement.

Boldon, who like Griffith-Joyner attended UCLA and admitted that he worshipped the ground she walked on, also reasoned that Flo-Jo only had one great season when she set world records in both the 100m and 200m and then went to the Olympics and won the sprint double and the 4x100m relay and picked up a silver behind Russia in the 4x400m.

“Yes, it was the greatest year ever, but it was the one year,” he said.

Devers then responded saying “I get what you’re saying” but Boldon continued to reinforce his point pointing out that if anyone asked Mike Powell, who has held the long jump world record for 30 years now, who is the greatest long jumper, he would say Carl Lewis “without even thinking about it.”

Lewis won long jump gold in four consecutive Olympic Games – 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.

But the Trinidadian was not done. He added that most people would never consider Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder, the greatest 400m runner of all time over Michael Johnson.

“You have to apply the rules the same way,” Boldon said. “Most world record holders aren’t necessarily the greatest.”

Confronted by the veracity of the points Boldon made, Devers relented.

“You’re right, you’re right,” she agreed. “It’s as you said, it’s the consistency, it’s how many titles, can they come back-to-back. I have to give some second thought to that. You’re right.”

 

 

 

 

Shadae Lawrence is unbeaten in the discus competition in 2021 and has already achieved the Olympic qualifying standard but according to her coach, Julian Robinson, there is still a lot to be accomplished if she is to be competitive at the Olympic Games this summer.

Akeem Bloomfield, the 2019 World Championship 400m finalist has started a gofundme account hoping to raise funds for surgery for his mother Elizabeth Palmer, who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.

Focus on details helped Kemba Nelson run a personal best 100m time and a decent 200m at last weekend’s West Coast Classic in Tucson.

Nelson, a junior at the University of Oregon, clocked 11.18 to win the 100m well clear of teammate Jasmine Reed who stopped the clock at 11:48. California’s Ezzine Abba ran 11.52 for third.

An hour later, Nelson would finish second in the 200m, beaten by UCLA’s Shae Anderson who clocked 22.96 for the win. Nelson ran a creditable 23.03, sandwiched by Anderson’s teammate Makenzy Pierre-Webster, who clocked 23.51.

Nelson expressed her satisfaction afterwards.

“I am happy with races! Big PR for me. Great opener as well,” said the former UTech sprinter, whose previous best was 11.49 in Kingston in June 2019.

“In the 100, I was more focused on execution. Staying patient with the drive phase and not rushing the race.”

She wasn’t too perturbed by her 200m loss seeing that her time was also a personal best.

“Though it was an hour after the 100 it was a good race too. I definitely have a lot to work on. But it’s a part of the sport. You win some, you lose some. Just have to get back to work.”

Nelson is having an outstanding first year on the US Collegiate circuit. In March she was the NCAA 60m Indoor title in a personal best 7.05s, a time that made her the fifth-fastest Jamaican woman indoors behind Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

 The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has announced the withdrawal of a team to the World Athletics Relays set for May 1-2 in Chorzow, Poland.

In a release issued on Tuesday evening, the JAAA cited the difficulty of travelling during the pandemic and existing COVID-19 protocols as the reason for its decision.

“Based on existing travel restrictions, routing and possibilities since then, caused by the SARS Covid 19 Pandemic, it has become extremely challenging for the Jamaican team and officials to participate,” the release read.

Last week, the JAAA announced that an experienced team had been selected to take part in the event.  Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, Olympic and World Championships 400m bronze medalist, and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell were among the headliners selected for the Jamaica squad.

Thompson was expected to be part of a 4x100m relay squad that included Natasha Morrison, Natalliah Whyte, Remona Burchell, Kasheika Cameron, and Shashalee Forbes.

She was also down to compete in the less often contested 4x200m, with Whyte, Forbes, Candice McLeod, Tiffany James, and Anastasia LeRoy.

Powell would have led a 4x100m team that included Oshane Bailey, Nesta Carter, Julian Forte, Nigel Ellis, Romario Willams, and Kadrain Goldson.

With recent spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases in Bermuda, a final decision on the fate of the 2021 Carifta Games will be announced in May.

 Jasmine Camacho-Quinn stormed to a 100m hurdles win in 12.32 (1.7m/s) to move to equal seventh on the world all-time list at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday.

Prior to her season opener one week before where she ran a windy 12.47, Camacho-Quinn's last hurdles race had been in 2019 and the Rio 2016 Olympian had started questioning whether her future lay in competing over the barriers.

But her perseverance is paying off and in Gainesville the two-time NCAA champion took 0.08 off her own Puerto Rican record, which had been set in 2018, to make a statement in Olympic year.

Behind her, British sisters Tiffany Porter and Cindy Sember both clocked 12.62, with Brittany Anderson finishing fourth in 12.91.

In the men's 110m hurdles, USA's world 60m hurdles record-holder Grant Holloway – who clocked a wind-assisted 13.04 (2.2m/s) a week earlier – ran a world-leading 13.07 (1.3m/s) for a dominant win. Trey Cunningham was second in a PB of 13.28.

World 400m champion Steven Gardiner went quickest over one lap, clocking 44.71 in his first 400m race since his world title win in Doha in 2019, as Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith was second in 45.53. Fastest in the women’s events was Jessica Beard with a time of 51.00.

Javianne Oliver won the women’s 100m from Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta – 11.12 to 11.16 (2.2m/s).

The men’s 100m saw the quickest time come in the university race as Jo'Vaughn Martin improved his PB from 10.40 to 9.94 (1.6m/s) to equal the world lead. Justin Gatlin went quickest in the 'Olympic Development' races with 9.98 (1.4m/s) ahead of Andre De Grasse with 9.99, Kenny Bednarek with 10.03 and Noah Lyles with 10.08.

Just one week after clocking 10.72 for 100m, Sha'Carri Richardson continued her fine form to run 22.11 (1.0m/s) in her 200m season debut on the first day of Tom Jones Memorial Invitational action on Friday (16).

It is the 21-year-old’s second quickest ever time for the distance behind her PB of 22.00 set in Florida last August and saw the world U20 record-holder win the heat by almost half a second ahead of Lynna Irby with 22.57.

World and Olympic medallist Blessing Okagbare was third in 22.66.

The time clocked by Richardson – who moved to sixth on the world all-time list with her 100m run the week before – is the second-fastest in the world at this early point of the season behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s 22.03 from earlier this month.

World 400m bronze medallist Fred Kerley went quickest in the men’s 200m heats, equalling his PB with 20.24 (0.9m/s) ahead of Jereem Richards with 20.30. Erriyon Knighton won another heat in 20.39 (0.5m/s).

World 400m hurdles silver medallist Sydney McLaughlin improved her 100m hurdles PB to 12.92 (0.2m/s) at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, California, on Friday (16).

 

With that result, the 21-year-old becomes the first woman to break 13.00 for the 100m hurdles, 23.00 for 200m and 53.00 for the 400m hurdles.

She was back in action just 40 minutes later and ran 51.16 in the 400m heats.

 

Jamaica discus thrower, Shadae Lawrence, registered a fourth consecutive win after taking first place at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational meet on Friday.

Lawrence recorded a distance of 57.86m, finishing well clear of the rest of the field.  Finishing in second was the University of Miami’s Kristina Rakočević who recorded 51.80m, with Jalani Davis (Ole Miss) third with a distance of 51.32.

The win for the Jamaican national record holder follows up on a victory last week at the USA Track & Field (USATF) Sprint Summit.  Elsewhere, former Jamaica College jumper Clayton Brown also claimed the top spot in the men’s high jump.  Brown took first place with a leap of 2.21m, ahead of Old Miss’ Allen Gordon who took second in 2.16m.  Third place went to Louisville’s Trey Allen who recorded 2.11m.

In the Men's 200 Dash Olympic Development Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards clocked 20.30 to secure second place, behind the United States’ Fred Kerley who took the top spot in 20.24.  Erriyon Knighton was third in 20.39.

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