Historic Jamaica Alpine skier Alexander Benjamin believes the country possesses the attributes to produce top-quality skiers on a consistent basis and hopes to be the first of many.

At 38 years old Benjamin made history for the Caribbean country to qualify for the Alpine Skiing event at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.  He is, however, the second skier behind Errol Kerr who competed in Freestyle skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics and finished in 9th position.  Kerr’s finish is the best placing by a Caribbean athlete at any Winter Olympics.

Despite the fame garnered from the 1988 Winter Olympics four-man bobsled team, immortalised by the cult classic Cool Runnings, it is the Summer Olympics that have been the forte of the Caribbean island.

Led by Jamaican track and field legend Usain Bolt Beijing was a happy hunting ground for the country’s Olympic team in 2008, where they claimed 11 medals.  While Benjamin won’t necessarily expect that type of success, the newly minted Olympian believes there is plenty of talent to harness.

“What my story is all about is encouraging the next generation of Jamaicans to start before 32, so that we can have a real chance at medaling,” Benjamin told the SportsMax Zone.

“I’ve already identified three Jamaicans in New York, started skiing when they were less than two years old, and they’ve been race training for the last 10 years.  So, they’re now 14 years old and these guys are going to come with force when we get to the 2026 Games,” he added.

“I think that we can get a really strong ski team from the pool of talent we already have in Jamaica and the diaspora.”

Benjamin has targeted being actively involved with the Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF).  Richard Salm the former president of the JSF died of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident last year.

 

 

A record number of coaches, who were last year registered by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for a rigorous hi-level coaches' course hosted by the Pan Am Sports Organization (PASO), successfully completed and are on course to achieve international certification.

Coaches from several sports including handball, badminton, judo, taekwondo, gymnastics, baseball, chess, volleyball, lawn tennis and track and field, completed, over six months, seven modules covering areas such as Coaching Philosophy and Leadership, Advanced Performance Planning, Energy Systems and Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Psychology, Advanced Injury Prevention, Recovery Strategies and High Performance Analysis.

"Capacity, capability and competency are the three Cs in the educational trilogy of the JOA's empowerment agenda for our coaches who are really the starters, drivers and finishers of the assets of sport development which are our athletes" President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, commented on the success of the initiative.

Participants across the spectrum of sport have lauded the initiative as "groundbreaking and a step by the JOA in the right direction."

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, was pleased with the level of support from the sporting federations and remarked "the response to JOA's call was deafening as it was instructive and demonstrates that coaches want to be and have become a part of the transformation being led by the JOA."

The JOA last year inaugurated its historic, "Olympic Scholars," an athlete scholarship grant, under which several persons benefited from financial assistance in academic and career pursuits. "This is money giving currency and value to athletes and this is an investment the dividends of which are capitalizing sport and the human capital" Foster said.

With a strong bi-lateral partnership with the United States Sports Academy (USSA), a strategic alliance World Eleven Inc and the Argentine Football Association and protocols of co-operation with regional and international stakeholders, "the JOA is instilling a culture of excellence in sport education and bringing the sciences and technology of sport into the equation of success." Samuda remarked.

The JOA will later this year make a call for another coaches' hi-level course and it is expected that it will be oversubscribed as stakeholders in the sporting sector continue to seize opportunities which the governing body is creating.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will once again be without fans for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica as the government looks to put measures in place to combat the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The country has played the majority of its matches behind closed doors, so far, with the lone exception being its last match against the United States, which allowed for 5000 vaccinated spectators to be present.

With 15 more COVID deaths, 1,548 new cases, and a positivity rate of 51.5 percent, as of Tuesday, however, the Government has decided to return to closed-door measures.  The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers with just 557,000 persons fully vaccinated, representing just 20.4 percent of the population.

The Reggae Boyz will be hoping to make a late run to book a place at this year’s FIFA World Cup having found themselves well off the pace midway through the qualifiers.  The team is currently 6th in the standings on 7 points, seven short of the final qualification spot.  The team will kick off the next round with a match against Mexico on January 27th, followed by a trip to Panama three days later and a home fixture against Costa Rica on January 30.

Mona High has been removed from the final of the ISSA Walker Cup after being found guilty of using ineligible players.

Mona was expected to face defending champions St Catherine in the final of the competition, on Saturday, after securing their spot last week with a resounding 5-0 win over Kingston Technical.

However, following a decision handed down by ISSA on Tuesday, it is Kingston Technical who will now replace Mona in the final.  The issue stems from the school’s use of two ineligible players during the semifinal of the Walker Cup.

During the Manning Cup quarterfinal against St Andrew Technical, two Mona players, Ronaldo Jones, and Carlton Brown received red cards.  While Jones received a straight red card, Brown got two yellow cards.  Neither should have been eligible for the Walker Cup semifinals but were still used in the fixture.

"If a player receives a “red card” he automatically misses the next scheduled match in the competition in which he is eligible,” the release issue by ISSA stated.

Mona is coached by Phoenix All-Star Football Academy manager Craig Butler.

Jamaica Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (JBSF) High Performance Director Mark Silver has lamented the circumstances that saw the country’s women’s two-woman team edged out of the Olympic qualifying positions.

Up to last month, the women’s team of Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and brake woman Audra Segree were favoured to be listed among the automatic qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, among the world’s top 12 teams.  By the time January rolled around, however, a conflation of unfortunate circumstances had changed things entirely.  According to Silver, things began to go wrong from the perspective of the team at Latvia's Sigulda World Series where there was a Covid-19 outbreak.

“We did everything we could.  We missed out because of the weather and believe it or not Covid,” Silver explained.

How it works is there are races across the world, after Christmas, the first race was in Latvia, and unfortunately, 7 athletes couldn’t race, which meant that athletes that would have finished lower down finished higher and received points that they wouldn’t have if the race was full of athletes,” he added. 

“In another race, a massive amount of snow meant that athletes who raced later benefited from the snow being clear.  Now, with the snow it's part of the sport, we expect that.”

In the final standing, the team finished tied with France for the final spot but were edge out via the tiebreak.  The team could still qualify for the Games if France or any of the other 10 teams above them Germany, Canada, United States, China, ROC, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, or Belgium are unable to take part in the event.

“With Covid, the girls finished third overall on the NAC, and before Christmas, I would have said I was confident and with the press release, had it been what we had expected and predicted they were probably our safest option,” he added 

“However, things that changed but that’s sports.  For each bad thing that goes against you sometimes we get good things and fingers crossed we were bang on points, and who knows maybe this time around luck will go with us.  Hopefully not at the expense of anyone else but hopefully the girls will get to live their dreams as well because they worked so hard.”

Edwin Allen High and St. Elizabeth Technical will contest the final of the Ben Francis Cup Knockout after winning their respective semi-final fixtures on Tuesday.

The double-header at STETHS saw Edwin Allen secure a comfortable 4-0 victory over Manchester High in the opening fixture and the host school pulling out a 1-0 win over Frome Technical in the second.

The final will be played at STETHS on Friday, January 21.

The hosts will be looking to secure their seventh Ben Francis Cup while Edwin Allen will be seeking their first.

President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stokes, admits it is a special feeling to see the country’s four-man men’s team heading back to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 24 years.

Inescapably, whenever a Jamaica team qualifies for the Olympics, an inexorable link is made to the 1993 smash hit Cool Runnings, which starred the late John Candy and Doug E. Doug that went on to become a cult classic.

Unlike the movie, however, the hard yards put in to get to the Olympics, for the nation that has never seen a drop of snow, has always been real.

Stokes was a last-minute alternate when the team crashed the sled during the historic catapult down the ice in the four-man competition, in Calgary 1988, for the squad that would become immortalised in film.  He and others have pushed on ever since.  The team has subsequently appeared at another eight Olympic Games.  The men’s team, however, last appeared at the Winter sports spectacle in 2014 when a two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts finished in 24th place and have not taken part as a four-man unit since 1998.  In the upcoming Olympics, the men’s team will make a triumphant return, but the team has also qualified for the two-man event and women’s monobob to appear in a historic three events.

“It has a special place in my heart to know that we will be in the four-man event once again at the Olympics, having been a part of that team myself (In 1988) it gives me great satisfaction,” Stokes said.

“It's not something that we take for granted it's hard work every time to qualify and it is a huge step for us to have three teams at the Games this year.”

With a bit more luck it could have been four, with the women’s two-woman team finishing just outside of the automatic qualification spots based on a tiebreaker.  The team could still appear at the Games having secured the position as the first alternate, should any of the automatic qualifiers withdraw from the event.

 “The two-woman team of Audra Segree and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian were close.  They were in the qualifying spots for most of the way but in the last few weeks, I think some very questionable decisions were made when it comes to qualification.  I can’t say that I was surprised because these things happen, but it was unfortunate.”

The women’s team made its debut at the 2018 Winter Games with Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell taking part in the event.  Despite the possibility of that team being left out this time around, qualifying three teams is not a feat to be scoffed at.

“We have an absolutely outstanding program and we don’t take it for granted.  We have a strong administration and an elite coaching staff that are wanted all over the world.”

Jamaica and Oregon sprinter, Kemba Nelson, picked up where she left off last season with a narrow win in the women’s 60m at the Cougar Classic Invitational in Spokane.

The reigning NCAA champion only narrowly got the better of Double Pillar Athletics sprinter Destiny Smith-Barnett.  In fact, both athletes were given the same time of 7.19 after crossing the line but it was Nelson who had the better time when the photo finish was used.  Oregon’s Jadyn Mays was third in 7.27. 

Elsewhere jumper Lamara Distin, a sophomore at Texas A&M, cleared an indoor personal-best 1.88m to win the women’s high jump at the two-day Ted Nelson Invitational.  Nissi Kabongo of Stephen Austin recorded the second-best mark with 1.85m, while Texas’ Allyson Andress was third with 1.73.

Former DJ Benjamin Alexander will become the first man to represent Jamaica, in skiing, at the Winter Olympics after qualifying for the Games last week.

Alexander will make his debut in the men’s giant slalom and qualified for the event after finishing seventh at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships on January 12.

Born to a Jamaican father and English mother, the athlete, now 38, did not take up the sport until 5 years ago while on a visit to Canada.  Now he will number among a handful of Jamaicans, 14 to be exact, that have made an appearance at the Games.  The journey was anything but simple.

"The biggest emotion I have right now is relief. I have put my entire life into this, my savings, my reputation, absolutely everything. It's taken 200% of my all to get here,” Alexander said.

Like so many, Alexander admits to being a fan of cult classic Cool Runnings, the now immortal story that paid tribute to the appearance of the Jamaica team at the 1988 Calgary Games.

"Had it not been for that movie and my friends making jokes about me being like Cool Runnings I don't think this plan would have been concocted,” Alexander said.

He hopes at the very least to be an inspiration.

"I don't want to take anything away from the people who started from the age of two.

"My story is all about participation and hopefully inspiring the next generation of Jamaican children to start earlier than 32."

Jamaica Reggae Boy Liam Moore has been stripped of the club captaincy by struggling Championship outfit Reading who have taken exception to the player’s ambitions of moving away from the club.

Reading made the announcement via its official website, making it clear it had become frustrated with the player in recent months.

 “Over the course of the last few months, centre-back Liam Moore has spoken with manager Veljko Paunovic and directors of the club to state his clear desire to leave Reading Football Club and pursue his career elsewhere,” the statement read.

“Obviously we are disappointed that Liam, a player awarded one of the club’s most significant contracts, has now stated his intention to move on. Whilst we have patiently waited for his representatives to provide us with options for us to consider in helping him fulfil that request, no offer or opportunity has been presented to the club to date,” it added.

Moore, who joined the club in 2016, following a loan spell at Bristol City, has gone on to make 216 appearances for the club.  Future appearances could be harder to come by.

“Although we have undeniably experienced a very difficult first half to our season, due in part to an unimaginable injury crisis which has most recently left us devoid of almost all our fit or available defensive options, we still demand loyalty, focus, and committed performances from every individual who pulls on a Reading shirt in front of our fans. And we expect our players, particularly our new captain, to wear the crest with pride and dedicate their total focus to the club on behalf of its loyal fanbase.”

Moore has since expressed surprise at the club’s decision via his social media account.

“Incredible shocked by the statement released tonight.  The player said via his IG handle.”

In 2019, Clarendon College suffered a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to Kingston College in the final of the ISSA Champions Cup.

Three years later, the Chapleton-based school have gone one better after scoring a 1-0 win over Dinthill Technical at Stadium East to win the ISSA Champions Cup.

In a back-and-forth affair, both teams traded chances throughout the first half before the deadlock was finally broken in the second half when a deflected shot from Jaheim Rose found its way to the feet of Kaheem Dixon who slotted home the decisive goal in the 53rd minute.

Clarendon College are now the second rural-area school to win the Champions Cup joining Cornwall College who won the title in 2018.

 

The key to the West Indies winning their CG Insurance One-Day International series against Ireland will be the ability to maintain wickets in hand in order to launch at the back-end of the innings, according to opening batsman and vice-captain Shai Hope.

The West Indies top-order batsmen have experienced difficulties with the moisture on the Sabina Park pitch, in the first two games of the series, after losing the toss and being asked to bat by Ireland on both occasions.

“We all know that in the morning time, there’s a lot of moisture in the pitch and it’s just unfortunate that we didn’t get to win the toss in the first two games,” he said.

Still, Hope emphasized the importance of trying to battle through the conditions, regardless of the result of the toss.

“Whether we win the toss or not, we have to do whatever we do, first, to the best of our ability. The key is to make sure we do it better this game because we know it is a series decider,” Hope added.

When asked about the average batting performance in the series so far, Hope once again pointed to difficult conditions.

“I think anyone who understands cricket can see that conditions aren’t conducive to stroke-play. It’s not a free-flowing wicket, especially in the morning at Sabina Park. It’s just important for us as batters to adapt to that as fast as we can. It’s not easy but we still have to find a way,” Hope added.

Finally, he offered possible solutions for the West Indies' batting woes.

“It’s just important for us to find a way, whether it’s putting the bowlers under more pressure or trying to run more singles in the middle period. I also think it’s important for us to maintain wickets in the middle so we can launch at the back-end because, at the end of the innings, the wicket tends to get a lot better,” Hope said.

The third and final CG Insurance ODI between The West Indies and Ireland takes place on Sunday at Sabina Park at 9:15 am Jamaica Time.

The series is currently locked at 1-1.

 

St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) secured their spot in the semifinal of the ISSA Ben Francis Cup following after cruising to a 2-0 win over Vere Technical.

After enterprising play early on Negus Daley gave STETHS the lead when he slipped by his defender at the area and fired the ball past Vere goalkeeper Michael Panton. 

With Vere finding it tough to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, Michael Jerman made the result safe for STETHS in the 56th minute.  After rapidly closing down defender Nevaughn Myrie, the industrious player sprinter away from the rest of the backline before lofting the ball over the advancing Panton and into the net.

Elsewhere, Frome got the better of Munro on the back of a goal from Javel Clarke.  The hard-sprinting Clarke finished with geometric precision after being played through on goal from a perfectly weighted pass from Fabian Forbes.

In other matches, a Shaquille Campbell double led Manchester High to a 3-0 win over Christiana and Edwin Allen also moved into the semifinals after a 2-1 win over Cornwall College.

 

Ireland secured a five-wicket win via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method to tie their 3-match One-Day International series with the West Indies 1-1 at Sabina Park on Thursday.

Ireland’s opening pair of William Porterfield and Paul Stirling got off to a strong start reaching 37 off 4.5 overs before Stirling was dismissed for 21 by Akeal Hosein.

Ireland brought up their 50 in the eighth over with Porterfield on 22 and Andy McBrine yet to score.

Roston Chase removed Porterfield with the final ball of the 10th over for 26 to leave the Irish on 60-2.

McBrine and Harry Tector formed a decent partnership and brought Ireland’s score past 100 before McBrine was dismissed by Romario Shepherd to become the third wicket to fall for a well-played 35, in the 20th over, to leave Ireland at 104-3.

Tector (46) and Curtis Campher (11) were the batsmen at the crease when Ireland brought up their 150 in the 29th over.

Tector brought up his sixth ODI 50 and second in the series off 69 balls in the 31st over but in the same over was bowled by Hosein.  Curtis Campher was dismissed for 12 to leave the score on 157-4 with Ireland needing 73 more runs to win from 115 balls.

A long rain delay during the 32nd over meant that upon the resumption of the game, Ireland only needed 11 more runs to win off 28 balls after the overs were reduced from 50 to 36 by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Kieron Pollard removed George Dockrell in the 33rd over for five, with the Irish needing just three more runs to win before Gareth Delaney hit the winning runs off Pollard to close the innings at 168-5.

Harry Tector finished 54 not out for the Irish against Akeal Hosein’s 2-51 off eight overs.

Earlier, the West Indies recovered from being 111-7 to be bowled out for 229 in 48 overs thanks to a well-made 50 from Romario Shepherd and an aggressive 46 off 19 balls from Odean Smith against a four-wicket haul from Andy McBrine, who was voted man of the match, and a three-wicket haul from Craig Young.

The third and final ODI will take place on Sunday at 9:15 AM Jamaica time at the same venue.

The West Indies have set Ireland 230 to win the second ODI at Sabina Park thanks to crucial late knocks from Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith.

West Indies played the same eleven as the first ODI for the second match, while Ireland made two changes with Paul Stirling and Neil Rock coming in for regular captain Andrew Balbirnie and wicketkeeper/batsman Lorcan Tucker who both returned positive COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.

Ireland won the toss and chose to field and the West Indies opening pair of Shai Hope and Justin Greaves battled difficult conditions on the Sabina Park pitch to still be at the crease in the 10th over before Hope was dismissed by Craig Young for 17 to leave the Windies at 38-1.

After the first powerplay, the West Indies were 39-1 with Greaves not out on eight and Nicholas Pooran yet to score.

Young got his second wicket in the 12th over with a beauty to remove Justin Greaves for 10 to leave the score on 42-2 off 11.2 overs.

The West Indies troubles escalated when Pooran became Young’s third victim in the 14th over, for one, to leave the home team on 43-3 off 13.5 overs.

After 20 overs, the West Indies were 58-3 with Roston Chase (6) and Shamarh Brooks (10) attempting to rebuild the innings.

Chase was next to go for 13 after a brilliant catch by acting captain Paul Stirling off the bowling of Andy McBrine to leave the West Indies on 91-4 after 26 overs.

The West Indies lost their fifth wicket soon after as captain Kieron Pollard was dismissed for one by McBrine to leave the score at 93-5 after 27.1 overs.

Shamarh Brooks (36) and Jason Holder (2) were the batsmen at the crease when the West Indies brought up their hundred in the 30th over, ending that over on 103-5.

Jason Holder became the sixth wicket to fall for three off the bowling of Josh Little in the 31st over to leave the score 104-6.

Brooks followed up his 93 from the first ODI with a well-played 43 before he was dismissed in the 34th over by George Dockrell, to leave the West Indies struggling at 111-7.

Akeal Hosein was the eighth wicket to fall, going caught on the boundary off the bowling of McBrine for 11 to leave the West Indies on 143-8 after 39.4 overs.

Smith came to the crease and hit back-to-back sixes off McBrine to help the West Indies get to 155-8 after 40 overs with Smith on 12 and Shepherd on 22.

A brilliant partnership from Smith (46) and Shepherd (28) allowed West Indies to bring up their 200 in the 44th over.

Smith’s innings came to an end at the start of the 45th over when he was dismissed by Josh Little for 46 off just 19 balls to leave the West Indies 201-9.

Shepherd brought up a wonderful 50 off 40 balls in the 48th over before he was dismissed off the very next ball to end the innings with the West Indies being bowled out for 229 in 48 overs.

Andy McBrine was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 4-36 off his 10 overs and he was well supported by Craig Young who took 3-42 off eight overs.

 

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