Jamaica’s Christopher Taylor is set to make his indoor debut on Sunday as the American Track League gets underway this season, meet organizer Paul Doyle has confirmed.

Track Coach Omar Hawse believes the Legacy Athletics is beginning its journey as a track club with one of the best group of athletes any club in Jamaica has ever started with.

Steven Gardiner and Tynia Gaither of the Bahamas had podium finishes at the UAB Blazer Invite in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday.

Emerging sprinter Kiara Grant of Norfolk State University and Ackera Nugent of Baylor were among several Jamaicans who produced top NCAA performances between Friday and Saturday as the collegiate indoor circuit unfolded in earnest in the United States.

Steven Gardiner became one of the fastest men in history when he won the gold medal in the 400m at the World Championships in Doha last year. The 25-year-old Bahamian crossed the finish line in 43.48s, the sixth-fastest time ever run over the distance.

But while he dreams of one day breaking Wayde van Niekerk’s four-year-old world record of 43.03, he would prefer for it to come as a surprise.

“I would say that is everybody’s dream! If I do set the world record, I want it to be a surprise,” Gardiner said in a recent interview with World Athletics.

“I just want to go out, compete and then when I look at the clock, find that I’ve set a world record.”

The soft-spoken Bahamian harbours hope to have a good year competing in 2021 culminating with another gold medal in Tokyo.

“I just want to compete the best I can and leave with a medal, specifically the gold medal. I know what I have to do. For the season, I’d like to run a few PBs and then win an Olympic medal,” he said.

With most of the major meets cancelled or postponed during 2020, Gardiner said he spent much of the time focused on improving his speed, a potentially critical element in any attempt at a world record.

“Many things were the same, although my coach, Gary Evans, introduced a lot more speed work. It was fun and it really paid off,” he said.

“I had a lot of fun. During the pandemic, we decided to focus on the shorter sprints and leave competing again in the 400m to 2021.”

 

 

Jamaican Olympian and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell said he intends to get to that elusive mark of 100 legal sub-10 times and an Olympic medal before he hangs up his spikes.

A personal health crisis is what Olympian Michael Frater said got him interested in the medicinal benefits of cannabis and eventually led to the opening of the 4/20 Therapeutic Bliss dispensary in Manor Park, Kingston on Saturday.

Frater, 38, represented Jamaica at the senior level for more than a decade, winning gold medals as a member of Jamaica’s world-record-setting 4x100m relay teams at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011 and again at the London Olympics in 2012.

He also won a silver medal in the 100m at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. He was also a 100m champion at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.

However, about five years ago persistent problems with his knees forced him to retire.

At Saturday’s launch, he explained how those knee problems introduced him to the healing properties of cannabis.

“I had very bad knees, and I remember waking up one day, and my knees were swollen, and I couldn’t walk. I went to the University Hospital (of the West Indies) where I met with Dr (Carl) Bruce and ran some tests but nobody could figure out what was wrong,” he told the gathering that included Jamaica’s Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, former world record holder Asafa Powell and Jamaica and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.

Christopher Samuda, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association and Ali McNab, an advisor to the sports minister were also in attendance and were in rapt attention as Frater shared his harrowing experience.

“I had an IAAF (World Athletics) function in Monaco. I remember leaving on Monday and got there on Tuesday and I couldn’t even walk off the plane. They had to send a wheelchair for me,” he recalled.

Initially, doctors in Monaco believed his condition was the result of doping, he said, but subsequent tests disproved their theories even though they were still unable to determine what was the cause of the constant swelling and fluid build-up in his knees.

He spent two weeks in hospital there where doctors ‘patched’ him up enough to enable him to fly home.

A subsequent visit to a medical facility in Florida was also unable to help him get any closer to identifying what was wrong with his knees, he said which left him fearing he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

It was then that his father, Lindel Frater, suggested he tried cannabis oil. He tried it and within a month he felt ‘brand new’, he said.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential.”

Minister Grange applauded the retired Olympian and praised him for his initiative in opening the dispensary. She eventually made the first purchase of medicinal marijuana. Samuda also shared similar sentiments while praising Frater for his venture into the cannabis industry.

Gayle, meanwhile, said Frater’s venture was an example for other retired athletes to emulate.

“I am a big supporter of Michael's career and now his business venture, and from a sportsman's point of view, there is life after your original career and to actually venture in a business is good for him and we are here to support him 100 per cent,” said Gayle.

Powell, who was Frater’s teammate on several national teams, said, his friend and colleague, was always a budding entrepreneur.

“From ever since, Michael has always been the brains among all of us. He has always been driven, business-oriented. I have always admired that about him,” said the former 100m world record holder who brought his wife Alyshia along.

“It’s kind of intimidating sometimes when you’re talking to him, and he is saying some stuff I don’t even know about, so I have always known he would make this step into business.

“He keeps pushing and I am very, very happy for him.”

Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange has revealed that the resurfacing of the track at the National Stadium in Kingston should be complete soon and that work on the one at the Montego Bay Sports Complex at the other end of the island is to begin soon.

The refurbishing work was carried out by German company BSW, who laid the previous surface in 2010.

The installation of the previous track in Kingston was completed in March 2011 and was expected to last for at least 10 years in line with international standards.

According to AthleticsBusiness, most modern tracks are built in three layers: a paved asphalt substrate, a rubber performance layer and a textured rubber top layer. Ideally, laser-levelling the asphalt to within a 3-mm tolerance is the first step toward making a consistent running surface across the entire oval. The middle layer can be poured on-site or manufactured in advance and delivered to the site — the latter scenario ensures the greatest consistency in terms of thickness.

According to Minister Grange, most of that work has now been done and the rest should be completed within days.

“The resurfacing of the National Stadium track is 90 per cent complete. We are a few days behind due to rain, but the resurfacing will be completed by the middle of next week, after which, the marking of lanes and boxes will commence,” the minister told Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner.

She said that after the marking is completed, World Athletics will send a technician to test the track and issue the expected certification of the Class One track, the highest possible certification.

The Minister had announced in November 2020 that work on the stadium track was set to begin and that the work on the one in Montego Bay was scheduled for the 2021-2022 financial year. She had asked that the Sports Development Foundation treat the Catherine Hall Sports Complex as a priority for the next financial year which starts on April 1, 2021.

At the time, she said two factors would determine when the work gets going at the National Stadium; the first is that because the track has to be laid on a completely dried surface, it must await the end of seasonal rains.

The other factor is the ability of the manufacturers’ representatives, BSW of Germany, to come to Jamaica to supervise the project and this will depend on covid restrictions.

The resurfacing comes at an opportune time as Jamaica is expected to have its national championships in June to select a team to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan scheduled for July 23 – August 8.

 

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.  

 

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound is uncertain whether the Tokyo Games will be able to go ahead.

After the Olympics were postponed in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, they have been rescheduled for this year, with events due to run in Japan's capital from July 23 to August 8.

However, COVID-19 has continued to surge globally with new variants of the virus forcing multiple countries back into lockdown situations.

The outcome of the debate about whether athletes are given priority access to vaccinations, which have just begun to be rolled out in major nations, could prove decisive.

"I can't be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus," Pound said, per BBC Sport, about whether the Games would go ahead.

The comments from Pound came as Japan declared a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding regions.

"The situation has become increasingly troubling nationwide and we have a strong sense of crisis," said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who had recently vowed to hold a "safe and secure" Olympics.

Pound, who is the longest-serving member of the committee, added the vaccine debate might be different in each competing nation.

He said to Sky News: "It is a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they [athletes] are jumping the queue [for a vaccine].

"But I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.

"In Canada, where we might have 300 or 400 athletes, to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level – I don't think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that.

"Athletes are important role models, and by taking the vaccine they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration for the wellbeing of others in their communities."

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) presented Guy’s Hill High School, Ensom City Primary School and Eltham Park Primary School with a total of 95 Samsung tablets at a ceremony held at the JADCO in Kingston on Wednesday.

Jamaican track athlete, Briana Williams, the 2018 double World U20 sprint champion, will serve as the race patron for the 2021 Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run set for February 21.

Russell Westbrook, Doc Rivers and Billie Jean King reacted with revulsion to the assault on the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump, united in the view there would have been a deadlier outcome had the rioters been black people.

On a dark day for the United States, thousands of Trump backers descended on Washington for a protest rally, refusing to accept the result of November's election that saw Joe Biden sweep to power.

Two weeks out from Biden's inauguration, many violent protesters breached security and accessed the Capitol, causing carnage and destruction as they appeared to go largely unchallenged.

There were a number of casualties, with four dead including a woman who was shot, while reports said a number of explosive devices were discovered.

Washington Wizards star Westbrook said: "It's very unfortunate to see. If those roles were reversed, if those were African-Americans, black people, it would be totally different."

He said the chaos was "just crazy, almost like a movie", and team-mate Bradley Beal agreed it was hard to stomach the scenes, given his view that police took a far less lenient approach to protesters during last year's Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

"It's very disheartening in a lot of ways - a lack of sense of urgency to respond to what was going on, versus protesters at Black Lives Matter over the summer," Beal said.

"The people who were invading our Capitol, that's unheard of and it's disheartening this is where we're at as a country."

Veteran Philadelphia 76ers coach Rivers called the insurgency "pretty disturbing" but vowed that "democracy will prevail".

"It shows a lot, though," Rivers said. "When you saw the [Black Lives Matter] protests in the summer, you saw the riots or more the police and the national guard and the army. And then you see this and you saw nothing.

"It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways. I'll say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to: could you imagine today if those were all black people storming the Capitol and what would have happened?

"So that to me is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see and probably something for us to reckon with again."

Tennis great King, a long-time activist for equality in sport and society, added on Twitter: "If the rioters storming the Capitol building today were Black and Brown people, the police response would be much different."

Footballer Megan Rapinoe became embroiled in a war of words with Trump during USA's triumph at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Looking at footage of how seemingly easily the protesters were able to break into the Capitol, Rapinoe offered her opinion, writing: "This is crazy, how did they even get through the..... ohhhhh it was opened for them."

Trump had addressed the crowds earlier in the day, forcefully standing by his view that he was fraudulently robbed of an election win.

In the hours after the Capitol was cleared, Congress confirmed Biden's victory.

Richard Sherman, the San Francisco 49ers cornerback, described the rioters as "terrorists".

He wrote on Twitter: "Never thought Americans would let terrorists into the capital without a fight....sad day. There are certain things my brain could never imagine.... and one of them is black ppl storming a government building and taking things without deadly consequences. But that’s just my brain."

It was not just Sherman's brain thinking along those lines, though. Far from it.

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard took the same stance, saying: "You just see the privilege, the privilege in America. "It's sad to see, because if any of us was out there, I think we would've been tear-gassed, Maced, probably gunshots, you know?"

And American track and field legend Michael Johnson said the scenes were only to be expected, given the nature of the Trump presidency.

"The alarms were sounded for four years. Republicans ignored them. Many in the media ignored them and normalized dangerous behavior," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"Sadly, today it all came to be. Shameful! This president and his supporters. Shame on you! And take responsibility!

"People on Twitter (of course) literally equating BLM protesters fighting for justice and equality to White Supremacist Trump supporters (supposed Patriots) gleefully and violently desecrating America's oldest and greatest institutions of democracy. Sadly, this is typical America."

Olympic athletes should be among those prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine so that the Tokyo Games can go ahead, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound. 

The rescheduled Games are set to get under way on July 23, a whole calendar year after the original starting date, despite concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in host country Japan.  

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will decide on Thursday whether to implement a new state of emergency in Tokyo amid growing calls to take action, which could again put the Olympics in jeopardy. 

IOC chief Pound, the organisation's longest-serving member, believes the best way of ensuring it goes ahead is to vaccinate all athletes beforehand.

"In Canada where we might have 300 or 400 athletes - to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level - I don't think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that," Pound told Sky News. 

"It's a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead." 

Costs for the Olympics have already increased by $2.8billion (£2.1bn) due to measures being put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

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