After securing the Diamond League 400 metres title last year, Kirani James says his focus was on progressive improvement ahead of the Paris Olympics, and the former World and Olympic champion has taken the necessary steps to continue along that path, with the appointment of Chris Lawrence as his new coach.

The coaching change comes as the Grenadian, who ended fifth at last year's Budapest World Championships, takes aim at a fourth Olympic appearance and, by extension, 400m medal to build on his already impressive track record. James won gold, silver and bronze at the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Games, and with Lawrence, a former assistant to his late coach Harvey Glance, he is excited about the prospects.

In fact, James’ decision to work with Lawrence reflects his commitment to build on Glance’s legacy.

“I’m pleased that Chris will be able to accompany and help aide me to continue the journey and path set out by coach Glance,” James shared.

The now 31-year-old’s career journey has been nothing short of remarkable. He first came in the scene with victories at the Carifta Games, and World Youth Championships in the 200m. Those were followed by a stellar performance in the 400m at the 2010 World Under-20 (Junior) Games.

James later rose to prominence when he copped gold at the 2012 London Olympics, with the Rio silver and Tokyo bronze to follow, making him the first athlete to win all three medals in the 100-year history of the event.

Additionally, James secured a bronze medal at the 2015 Beijing World Championships, and a silver at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene. His successive Diamond League titles in 2022 and 2023, complemented his World and Olympic accolades, as well as his Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2014.

These accomplishments have established James as one of the elite athletes in the 400m discipline and Grenada’s first and only Olympic medalist.

As James and Lawrence prepare for the Paris showpiece, anticipation will be high in the ‘Spice Isle’, as their superstar seems poised to add yet another chapter to his already legendary career in the world of athletics, especially given his resilience, dedication, and proven track record.

Iconic Jamaican sprinter Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce brought some festive cheer to her community of Waterhouse with her second Christmas Treat of the month on Boxing Day and her 16th overall.

Her first treat was held at the Windalco Sports Complex in Ewarton a week earlier.

On Boxing Day, children at the Fesco Field, children in the Waterhouse community were treated to a mixture of toys, rides, food and face painting to name a few.

Sponsors for the treat were Nike, Digicel Jamaica, Grace Foods, XLCR Jamaica and Toyota Jamaica Limited.

“The best Birthday gift I can ever receive is having a successful Treat each year,” said Fraser-Pryce who also celebrated her 37th birthday on Wednesday.

“Nothing more, nothing less. Thank you to our amazing sponsors and volunteers,” added the three-time Olympic and 10-time World Champion.

Fraser-Pryce only competed in five 100m races in 2023 due to a nagging knee injury.

Despite those concerns, she was still able to perform when it counted with 100m bronze at the World Championships in Budapest in August.

Her time (10.77) was a season’s best in her last race of the season.

 

Track & field legend Usain Bolt recently hosted his annual Christmas treat in Trelawny.

The eight-time Olympic gold-medallist transformed the community into a festive paradise filled with joy rides, music and gifts.

“Just a kid from the country!!!” said Bolt, who hails from Sherwood Content in the parish, on his Instagram page.

“Always a joy to give back to my community. No matter what, I will never forget where I’m from,” he added.

Bolt, who retired from the sport in 2017, still currently holds world records in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m and is the only man to win three consecutive Olympic sprint doubles.

On Friday, December 22, Olympic gold medalist Briana Williams brought yuletide joy to the community of Flankers in Montego Bay, St James, as she transformed the Flankers Football Field into a Christmas wonderland for her fourth annual Christmas treat.

With the generous support of Digicel and Grace Foods, over 300 children from the community were treated to a day filled with fun, frolic and musical entertainment.

Williams also brought gifts for each child and, of course, refreshments from Grace Foods and Digicel included popcorn, snow cones, hot dogs, sorrel and other delights also brought smiles to the community.

The inspiration behind Montego Bay came from Williams' mother, Sharon Simpson, who hails from the second city. Williams was also joined by Dancehall artist Tommy Lee Sparta, who is from Flankers. He shared a message of love and togetherness for those in attendance.

Williams was overjoyed to bring cheer to Montego Bay again.

"We provided gifts as always to Paradise and Norwood but had the event at the Flankers football field this year, as it is a more central location. Despite the rain, it was well-attended, a shower of blessings. The children were so much fun to share gifts with and dance with. I already can't wait for next year," she declared.

"Montego Bay is special to me, and I hope this event reminds the little ones of the meaning of Christmas. It's about sharing with others and spreading joy wherever you go," Williams added.

Questions and concerns have been raised over the absence of Jamaican-born Jak Ali Harvey from the Turkish Athletics scene.

In fact, media reports indicate that Harvey has seemingly cut ties with his adopted nation and its Athletics Federation, as several attempts to make contact with the 2016 and 2018 European Championships medallist, proved futile.

Harvey, who according to reports, last competed in August 2022 at the Turkish Clubs Super League, rose to prominence in Turkey during his league competition for ENKA Club some nine years ago, at which time, he switched allegiance from Jamaica to the Southeast European country. During the height of his career, Harvey, not only copped European Championships medals, but also made the men's sprint semi-finals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

He inevitably set a new Turkish national record of 9.92s in the 100m in 2016, to go along with his other personal best of 20.38s in the 200m set a year prior. From there, Harvey, went on to achieve other remarkable feats under the Turkish flags, as he became the most decorated Turkish athlete to grace the Balkan Championships, and also became the first Turkish athlete to win at the Mediterranean Games twice.

However, the now 34-year-old's decorated Turkish career seems to have end in mystery. An Athletics Podium report said Harvey left Istanbul after the 2022 league contest, and later disappeared from the grid. The report suggested that Harvey went back to Jamaica as is customary every autumn, but is yet to return to Istanbul since then, and has seemingly cut ties with Turkey.

It is reported that club officials have tried on numerous occasions to make contact with Harvey, including through his former manager and friend Donovan Powell, the brother of Asafa Powell, but there have been no clear indications of his whereabouts.

Still, the report stated that "rumours can be heard around Turkish athletics as to him [Harvey] being seen driving a cab in his native land Jamaica."

It is understood that during the last couple of seasons, Harvey had some trouble with the Turkish Athletics Federation regarding Olympic scheduling and sources, but it remains unclear if that played a part in the current situation.

Elite Performance Track Club provided children at the Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in St. James with some Christmas cheer on Monday.

The club provided gifts and supplies, played games and spoke to some of the children at the home.

Robin's Nest Children's Home began in 1998, a private Christian home to minister to the physical, mental and spiritual needs of Jamaican children. 

The home’s founder, Michelle Robinette, spent time visiting children at a local orphanage and soon felt led the following year not only to care for hurting children on the island but desired to start a new place where more kids could call "home."    

 

The fastest man to ever walk the earth, Usain Bolt, says he’s not worried about any of his world records being broken anytime soon.

The eight-time Olympic gold-medalist currently holds both the 100m and 200m world records.

Both marks, 9.58 in the 100m and 19.19 in the 200m, were set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

“I knew I was going to break the world record because I was in such good shape at the time and I was running great throughout the season,” Bolt said in an interview with World Athletics.

Athletes like Fred Kerley, Ferdinand Omanyala and Noah Lyles have both been vocal about trying to eclipse Bolt’s 100m world record but neither has come close up to this point.

Kerley, the 2022 World 100m Champion, has a personal best of 9.76. Omanyala, the 2022 Commonwealth Champion, has a personal best of 9.77 while Lyles ran his personal best 9.83 to win 100m gold at the Budapest World Championships earlier this year.

Lyles, however, who was named as the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year for 2023 after taking three gold medals in Budapest, is not that far off the 200m world record with a personal best of 19.31 done to win the 2022 World title in Eugene.

“Not worried about any of them,” he said regarding the times.

“I think the hundred is going to be harder because it’s quicker and if you make a mistake during the race you’re not going to get it. It’s a lot more technical so I think maybe the hundred is going to go last,” he added.

Bolt also commented on still being known as the fastest man ever as well as his relationship with the fans over the years.

“It’s a great title to have. It’s something that I enjoy hearing and I enjoy knowing,” he said about the title.

“It’s always been so beautiful for me. They give me so much energy. I remember even through the World Championships in the pandemic I was like I could not compete in this. By myself in the stadium, I could not because I live so much for the energy and the vibes,” he added.

 

 

 

Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams held her fourth annual Christmas treat on Friday in the community of Flanker in Montego Bay.

The treat, which was held at the Flankers Football Field, included festivities such as a Santa tent, face painting, refreshments provided by major sponsors grace foods, rides and toys for children.

Williams, 21, is a three-time Olympic and World Championship medalist as a part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay quartet.

At the junior level, she was dominant, winning the sprint double at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland.

She has personal bests of 10.94 in the 100m and 22.50 in the 200m, a national Under-20 record.

Sanya Richards-Ross has successfully given birth to a second baby boy.

The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star, who suffered a miscarriage earlier this year, gave birth to a son on Tuesday.

"He's here!!!!!" she announced in an Instagram Story.

"He's healthy, super chill and an absolute cutie! God is so good. Thanks for all the prayers," added Richards-Ross.

The 38-year-old is already the mother of son Aaron II, 6, with her husband, Aaron Ross.

On the track, the Kingston-born American star had a superb career competing in the 400m.

Richards-Ross is a four-time Olympic Champion, five-time World Champion and a two-time Diamond League winner.

Her 400m personal best 48.70 is the current American record and puts her 19th on the all-time performances list.

 

Difficulty in getting sponsorship, use of inferior equipment and poor coverage are some of the problems faced by the local throwing community according to renowned coach Michael Vassell.

In light of recent comments by national hammer throw champion Nayoka Clunis regarding a lack of financial support from the local track & field governing bodies, attempts were made to contact a number of Jamaica’s throws athletes and coaches to see whether or not they have had similar experiences.

For context, these were Clunis’ comments on social media two weeks ago.

“Nobody wants to talk about the lack of funding or sponsorship that track and field gets. If you’re not ranked in the top 5, people don’t take you seriously. I am ranked in the top 30 (27 to be exact), while some countries would jump at the opportunity to help develop my talent…. not mine. They don’t help with anything outside of airfare and stay at national representative meets. Yes, I’ve been pleading for assistance from JAAA, JOA, even the minister, and no one is willing to help! How are athletes to survive!? It cost me $120 for a massage and $150 for chiro and I can only afford one, once a month! So, when you all see athletes like me not getting to that next level or not performing up to standard it’s because we are not getting the help we need to be great. I’m not asking for the world I’m asking for the basics to survive, that’s it!”

The 28-year-old represented Jamaica in the hammer throw at the World Championships in Budapest in August, failing to advance from qualifying with a best throw of 58.10m, a far cry from the 70.17m effort she produced at the National Championships just a month earlier. 

SportsMax.tv reached out to a number of other athletes and coaches looking for opinions on various issues faced by field event athletes in Jamaica and, while a number of them declined to comment, coach Vassell obliged and shed some light on some important topics centered around the Jamaican throwing community.

The first issue Vassell brought up was difficulty in getting sponsorship for his Throws Only meet.

“We have a preference for track in Jamaica. We believe in track and we love track. I have a Throws Only meet which has gotten to the point now where we have been doing this for 20 years and it has shown to benefit Jamaica in where we have produced medalists at the world level and all of these people are what you would call alumni out of these throws meets,” he told SportsMax.tv.

“We can say it has an impact but, having been around for 20 years, it is still a struggle to find sponsors for the meet, a meet that is used by coaches and schools to test their athletes. It is still a struggle to get sponsors,” he added.

The current Girls head coach at Excelsior High School also brought up the issue of the lack of access to top-class equipment due to high costs.

“Track & Field throwing depends on implements. You need proper implements to throw. Where do you get these implements? Are they world class? A training javelin will cost you US$200. A real good javelin can cost you US$3000,” he said.

“These things are what you call cost prohibitive. It also means that even the suppliers in Jamaica like Carl Chang at Western Sports who has been really supportive of throwing events, he buys implements but again, because of the cost, he can’t buy top of the line implements because if he does nobody can afford to buy them,” Vassell added.

The question was then asked regarding whether or not a possible solution would be for the local track & field governing bodies to provide top-class equipment for the athletes to have access to year-round.

“The governing body provides implements for competition,” Vassell said.

“They ensure that there is world-class competition equipment available to use. That, in most cases, is the extent of their support because they tell you that, while they’re in charge of that, there role is not to develop the sport like that to provide implements,” he added.

He went on to say that while some athletes may have sponsorships and be provided with world-class equipment free of cost, lesser athletes mostly have to rely on athletes or coaches coming from overseas.

“Some of the lesser athletes are dependent on maybe some of the guys coming from college overseas might leave an implement or some of the coaches from foreign might come down and leave two implements for the kids because to get good quality implements is expensive!” he said.

Vassell also noted that the use of the lesser quality equipment has a direct effect on some of the performances we see from Jamaica throwers at big meets around the world.

“Jamaica being what it is, if I buy a US$3000 javelin and throw it and it hits the ground and breaks in two, where does that leave me? Nobody really wants to make that kind of investment. You can get away and buy some javelins for $300 and use them but when your throwers go to the international meets and are exposed to world-class high-level implements, then they don’t perform as they can because they’re not used to them,” he said.

“A javelin is weighted to fly a certain distance whether that’s 60, 70, 80 or 90 metres. A 70m javelin thrower cannot take up an 80m javelin and throw it 80m because the strain that it puts on his elbow and his throwing arm is totally different from what the 70m javelin does,” he added.

When brainstorming possible solutions to this lack of access, Vassell circled back to the first problem, getting more sponsorship.

“We’re trying our best to navigate these challenges. You find sponsors. I remember Mr. Chang from Western Sports sponsored me for one of my throwing meets and he gave me some implements. These implements were used as prizes. So, people won an event and got an implement as the prize,” he said.

Vassell also addressed the way field events in general are covered at televised track meets.

“The purists will love the field events because they are exciting. They have rounds; they have lead changes; they have one man starting out in the front and ending up fifth; you have one man leading with one round to go and ending up fourth; you have people moving from eighth to first in one round but, because of how it is shown, it’s not exciting for a lot of people because you don’t see these lead changes,” he said.

“When it’s on the TV they’re showing the 100m because nobody has the time to show the discus that is also happening where the lead changed four times in the last round,” he added.

He also made reference to his throws only meets.

“When we have our throwing events, we have people qualifying for Olympics and World Championships and throwing world leads. When the seniors are throwing, everybody is watching. Everything is on pause and they are the stars of the show but, because a lot of people don’t know about it, they just push it by the wayside.”

Vassell says his dream is to one day put on a shot-put competition in the Half-Way-Tree square in Kingston as a way to draw more public attention to field events

“One of the things that Diamond League organizers do, for instance, is they’ll have the shot put the Friday evening like in the middle of a square or something like that. I’ve had this idea in my head all along to have a shot-put competition in the middle of Half-Way-Tree,” he said.

“Again now, we’d have to get sponsors because if you want to make that exciting you’d have to have world-class shot putters so you’d have to have prize money. You get like three of the top throwers out of North America, two good sponsors. Give the winners US$5000 or $6000 as a prize and who knows, they might come,” he added.

 

In a historic moment at the USTFCCCA Convention earlier this month, Jamaican coaching icon Victor "Poppy" Thomas was officially inducted into the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's National Coaches Hall of Fame. The ceremony, held at the Gaylord Rockies Resort Hotel and Convention Center, marked a pinnacle in Thomas' illustrious two-decade coaching career at Lincoln University in Missouri.

During his incredibly successful career as Lincoln, Thomas has won 14 national team titles in NCAA Division II women’s track & field and guided his athletes to more than 140 individual national titles and 950 All-America honors.

Whether it is athletically or academically, Thomas has had plenty of opportunities to celebrate. Since taking over the men’s and women’s track & field programs at Lincoln in 2002, at least one of his squads has finished in the top-10 at the NCAA DII Championships indoors or outdoors every year but one – the lone exception being 2020, a year whose national track & field championships were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to his 14 national titles (five indoor and nine outdoor), his Blue Tigers have finished in the top-10 nationally as a team 66 times, with 52 of those being in the top-FIVE. His squads have been named USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Scholar Team of the Year seven times, and four athletes – Nandelle Cameron (2008), Sedeekie Edie (2016), Ryan Brown (2019) and Kizan David (2021) – have earned Scholar Athlete of the Year honors.

For his exemplary work, Thomas, affectionately known as "Poppy," now stands among the greats of American collegiate track and field as the first Jamaican coach to receive this prestigious honor. The seasoned coach, reflecting on the surreal nature of the moment, remarked, "One of the things that I look at and make note of is, like 23 years ago, I was in Jamaica, and I just heard about coaches like Pat Henry and George Williams, Wes Kittley, and now I'm being recognized. I'm in the same Hall of Fame, the same league as the great American coaches that we only heard of."

 

The significance of the achievement wasn't lost on Thomas, who found solace in the warm reception from his American coaching counterparts. "The good thing about it is that all of them came up afterward backstage and hugged me and said ‘congrats’; that alone felt so good," he shared, highlighting the camaraderie among coaches.

During the induction ceremony, Thomas found himself representing not just his own accomplishments but also paving the way for a new generation of Jamaican coaches. "Quite a number of young Jamaican coaches also came on stage, some of them I didn't even know were coaching.

It seemed like I was flying a flag for Jamaican coaches, black coaches, in some way. That's what it seemed to me, you know. And for that, you know, I feel kind of good because I was only a black coach at the stage right there," he reflected.

In the midst of the celebratory atmosphere, Thomas couldn't help but express disappointment that his home country might not fully grasp the magnitude of his achievement. "The average layman who doesn’t follow the sport or is not on Facebook would never know that ‘Poppy’ got inducted. Those kids I used to coach back in the day at Trinity, Camperdown, STATHS, wouldn’t even know," he lamented.

 

“And quite a few of them who know, got in touch with me and they are proud. And for me, that feels good that I have been a part of their lives to the extent that this one is for me but it’s for them too because without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

When asked about his proudest coaching moment at Lincoln University, Thomas delved into the heart of his coaching philosophy. "The category I am proudest of is the category of them graduating," he said. He shared a poignant story of a student's innocent mistake, taking a taxi from Saint Louis to Jefferson City, not knowing the distance. "Ten, 12, thirteen years later, that kid has graduated, has a nice job, a nice little business, married, and has a couple of kids. That, for me, is the creme de la creme of all my achievements," he added.

The Wanda Diamond League has released a detailed summary of which disciplines will be staged at which meetings during the 2024 season.

In 2024, the world’s best athletes will once again take the stage in athletics’ premier one-day series, competing at 15 meetings across four different continents.

Athletes will compete for points in their chosen discipline at the 14 series meetings between April and September, with the most successful qualifying for the Wanda Diamond League Final in Brussels on September 13th-14th.

The season begins in Xiamen on April 20th, with the men’s 100m, women’s 200m and a 100/110m hurdles double bill among the headline events. Each discipline will then be staged at least four and up to eight times on the Road to the Final, giving athletes from across the globe enough opportunities to earn points.

Two meetings will be held at a different location in 2024 due to stadium renovation works in their usual locations. The Meeting International Mohammed VI will move from Rabat to Marrakech, while the Wanda Diamond League Shanghai will take place in Suzhou.

The 14 series meetings will each take place in a two-hour TV world programme and will all stage at least 14 Diamond Disciplines. The Wanda Diamond League Final in Brussels will be the only meeting to feature every single discipline, with all 32 Diamond League champions crowned over the course of two days.

The season calendar and the allocation of disciplines remain subject to change.

A list of disciplines for each meeting will also be available under the 'programme and results' page on each individual meeting website.

As well as the Diamond Disciplines, each meeting may also include additional disciplines in their programme, in which athletes will not earn points on the Road to the Final.

The disciplines are as follows: 100m (M,W), 200m (M,W), 400m (M,W), 800m (M,W), 1500m/Mile (M,W), 3000m/5000m (M,W), 3000m Steeplechase (M,W), 110m Hurdles (M), 100m Hurdles (W), 400m Hurdles (M,W), High Jump (M,W), Pole Vault (M,W), Long Jump (M,W), Triple Jump (M,W), Shot Put (M,W), Discus Throw (M,W), Javelin Throw (M,W).

On Saturday, December 15, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's Pocket Rocket Foundation brought the spirit of Christmas to Ewarton as they hosted a festive treat for an estimated 300 children at the Windalco Sports Complex. Fraser-Pryce's husband, Jason Pryce, hailing from the community, played a significant role in bringing this heartwarming event to his hometown.

Through the generous support of sponsors and the unwavering commitment of Fraser-Pryce, the children of Ewarton enjoyed a day filled with laughter, gifts, and exciting activities. This marks the third consecutive year that the Pocket Rocket Foundation has organized such an event in Ewarton, a testament to the foundation's dedication to spreading joy during the holiday season.

Fraser-Pryce, a decorated athlete and Olympic gold medalist, has not only excelled on the track but has also embraced the role of a benefactor to the community, particularly the children who eagerly anticipate the annual Christmas treat. With support from sponsors, including Digicel, the treat featured an array of delightful activities for the children, including rides on bounce-abouts, a rock climbing experience, and merry-go-rounds.

"We are very grateful for the support of our sponsors who have made this event possible. It's heartening to see the smiles on the children's faces as they enjoy the festivities," expressed Fraser-Pryce.

 

Sponsored in part by Digicel, the treat not only brought joy but also provided practical gifts for the children. NIKE contributed drawstring bags, socks, and pens, adding a touch of excitement to the holiday season. Digicel covered the costs of toys and rides, while Gracekennedy sponsored refreshments, ensuring the children had a memorable and enjoyable experience.

To make the occasion even more special, the foundation purchased 30 gallons of ice cream, adding a sweet touch to the festivities. Excelsior, a valued partner, distributed snack packs to all 300 children who gathered at the Windalco Sports Complex. This year, Windalco Sports Complex collaborated with the Pocket Rocket Foundation to create a safer and more conducive environment for the children.

Highlighting the sense of community and continuity, some past and present recipients of the foundation's support traveled to Ewarton to volunteer and share in the joyous occasion. Toyota Jamaica once again played a crucial role by providing transportation, ensuring that the children had a seamless and enjoyable experience.

As the sun set on a day filled with laughter, gifts, and shared moments, the Pocket Rocket Foundation, through Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's vision, once again demonstrated the power of giving back and spreading the true spirit of Christmas in Ewarton.

In a historic triumph for St. Lucia, Julien Alfred, representing the University of Texas in Austin, claimed the prestigious Bowerman Award last Thursday night in Denver, Colorado. The 22-year-old athlete's remarkable achievements has drawn praise from her country’s government, specifically from St. Lucia's Sports Minister, Kenson Joel Casimir, who expressed immense pride in her accomplishments.

The 22-year-old Alfred, in her senior year, contributed to five NCAA titles for the Longhorns, becoming the first female athlete to win the 60- and 200-metre indoor championships, along with the 100- and 200-metre outdoor crowns in the same year. She was also part of Texas winning the 4x100 relay at the Division 1 outdoor final, helping the Longhorns secure the women’s team title.

Alfred, who has since signed a professional contract with PUMA, set collegiate indoor records in the 60 at 6.94 and 200 by clocking 22.01, both the second-fastest times in history, at the Division 1 finals in Albuquerque. She also produced the fastest all-conditions outdoor marks in NCAA history, with wind-aided efforts of 10.72 in the 100 and 21.73 in the 200, in addition to contributing to the collegiate record of 41.55 in the 4x100, all at the NCAA championship on her home track at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

Minister Casimir, in an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV, commended Julien Alfred's dedication and hard work throughout her athletic journey, acknowledging her commitment to training and improvement from her days at the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School to high school in Jamaica and finally to the University of Texas.

“The government of St Lucia is exceedingly happy with the achievement of Julien Alfred. Of course, it came through a lot of hard work on her part. I want to, as the Minister of Sports for St Lucia, congratulate Julien and her family first and foremost.

"We've known of her commitment towards training and improvement from a very young age, from her alma mater at the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School all the way to Jamaica and over to Texas. And so we're very proud that she has made those strides as she continues to make St. Lucia proud," Minister Casimir remarked.

Highlighting the government's commitment to supporting its athletes, Minister Casimir outlined the specific measures taken to aid Julien Alfred in her athletic endeavors. He emphasized the groundbreaking decision to allocate a line item in the national budget to ensure comprehensive support for the athlete.

"The government of the St. Lucia Labour Party has ensured that we put our athletes first. And of course, this year, for our last budget, we took the position that we, for the first time in our history, have a line item specifically to ensure that an athlete was furnished with all that she needed to flourish."

Minister Casimir detailed the crucial steps taken to provide Julien Alfred with the necessary resources, including a diplomatic passport, a first in the nation's history. The minister underscored the significance of this decision, recognizing the challenges international athletes face in terms of travel and logistics.

"Never in our history was that done before, simply because we understood that an individual was going to do two-a-day training, calorie restriction in terms of her nutrition, mental training, and doing all of that, making all the sacrifices for her country, it would not be right for an international athlete of that level to have to stand up on the line to either get home or go anywhere in the world."

 

 

The government's support extended beyond paperwork, as Minister Casimir detailed financial assistance for psychosocial support, physiotherapy, and mental well-being. The comprehensive backing aimed to ease Julien Alfred's transition from a collegiate athlete to a professional.

"I, being a former athlete, would understand that there are certain things that you will just not be able to afford unless you get the support, especially when she was transitioning from a collegiate athlete over to a pro athlete. And so we made those things available to her readily."

Minister Casimir concluded with optimism for the future, stating, "We've seen the fruits of that and we are very proud of what she achieves and we looking forward to 2024 and, of course, we are just expecting bigger and better things from Julien Alfred."

Alfred represented St Lucia at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August. In her first-ever World Championship 100m finals, Alfred finished fifth in a time of 10.93. She was fourth in the 200m final in a handsome time of 22.05.

Alfred won a silver medal in the 100m at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

 

 

 

 

Jamaican Dewayne Barrett is one of two former elite sprinters, now track coaches, charged by Federal prosecutors as part of a widening case alleging a conspiracy to supply banned performance-enhancing drugs for athletes in advance of the Tokyo Olympics.

An indictment unsealed Thursday in the Southern District of New York charges O'Neil Wright of Liberia and Barrett with working to provide sprinters from Nigeria, Switzerland and Britain with drugs to get them ready for the Tokyo Games.

Barrett won a silver medal for Jamaica in the 4x400 relay at world indoor championships in 2008. Wright was a 200 and 400m sprinter for Liberia who ran at the 2005 track world championships.

The indictment says Wright and Barrett worked with Eric Lira, who has already pleaded guilty under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which was passed in 2020 to target wide-ranging doping schemes across the globe.

One of the athletes Lira worked with was Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist who has been banned for 11 years for taking human-growth hormone and the blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) and also for failing to cooperate with the investigation.

EPO and HgH were among the drugs Barrett and Wright were discussing with Lira, labeled as “Co-conspirator 1” (CC-1) in the indictment.

“Prices. CC-1 responded via text message: ‘100 million stem cells at $1900, Human Placent is $350, Hgh 12 mg $450,’” the indictment said, in recounting a text exchange between Barrett and Lira.

The indictment details an exchange with Okagbare, who is referred to as “Athlete 1,” in which the Jamaican asked: “How do you need us to help you and (another athlete) be gold medalist?” And, later: ”U need a coach that will lie for you."

 

 

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