Jamaican track & field fans have earned a reputation as some of the most passionate and supportive people you will ever come across and, for British sprint superstar Dina Asher-Smith, seeing it up close and personal at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on May 11 was a riveting experience.

Asher-Smith, a proud member of the Jamaican diaspora herself through her father Winston, ran her second-fastest time of the young season, 22.59, to take top spot in the Women’s 200m at the inaugural edition of the meet held at the National Stadium in Kingston.

The 28-year-old, in a post-race interview, said that, regardless of the result, she felt “blessed” to finally compete in Jamaica.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do forever and ever. I am a part of the Jamaican diaspora around the world,” she said before pointing out that her parents flew in from London to see her compete.

“I’m just so proud to have come here and, however today would’ve gone, it’s just a blessing to come here and race in Jamaica,” she added.

The 2019 World 200m champion, in another interview after her race with The Inside Lane, expounded on her experience competing in Jamaica.

“I’m just so blessed to be in this country and blessed that they support me on that level,” she said.

“I don’t think I can quite articulate what it means to come to another country and they want you to do well and they’re so happy that you’re here. I think, as an athlete, we all want the medals, we all want the titles, we all want the records but at the same time, it means a lot that people want to see you do well,” she added.

The British record holder in both the 100m and 200m said the support from fans even extended to off the track, mentioning that Jamaican guests at the hotel she stayed at often referred to her as “cousin” based on her Jamaican heritage.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve always known that the Jamaican fans are so supportive but being here and seeing it up close like when you’re in the hotel and people also staying there are like ‘cousin, cousin!’ It means so much because when you’ve got your actual roots celebrating you and they like you for who you are, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so amazing.”

 

Jamaican sprinter Jonielle Smith is on a determined path to overcome adversity as she sets her sights on qualifying for her first Olympic Games this summer.

The 28-year-old athlete, who tasted victory as part of Jamaica's gold-winning 4x100m relay team at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, has faced significant setbacks following a motor-vehicle accident later that year which left her battling injuries, particularly to her back.

After a challenging recovery, Smith's journey took her back to Jamaica, transitioning from Florida-based MVP International to the MVP Track Club, where she has been steadily rebuilding her form but it hasn’t been easy.

“Trust me. I don’t think anybody trains as hard as Jamaicans. Last year, when I tell you my body went through it, not only from injuries but as simple as the workouts being exhausting. It definitely hit me hard but this year I feel like it’s more just injuries that are my problem rather than the workouts. So that’s a plus. Now, we’re just trying to get back to where we were or even better than where we were.”

Despite enduring a tumultuous period with injuries limiting her appearances in 2021 and 2022, Smith remains optimistic about her prospects, especially with the Jamaican trials approaching at the end of June.

Reflecting on her current struggles, Smith emphasized the mental fortitude required to regain her form, both in practice and competition. "It’s rough. I think this part of it is mainly mental, trying to find back myself both in practice and now in competition," she said.

“The good thing is that practice is basically picking up so now I just have to work on continuing to be consistent and then translate that into competition.”

Regarding her race on Saturday, where she finished third in the Women's 100m B final, Smith admitted it wasn't up to her expectations but recognized it as a stepping stone in her comeback. "It wasn’t what I expected. I really wanted more but we have to take the good with the bad," she shared.

“Last week was my first month back so this one was like ‘alright we are we, what can we improve on. My execution wasn’t as good as last week, which I don’t like but hopefully whenever I compete again I will be much better.”

Despite the challenges, Smith has found encouragement in her progress, particularly with her back feeling more stable. However, new issues with her shoulder and neck have emerged this year, impacting her training and race readiness. Nevertheless, Smith remains steadfast, focusing on incremental improvements each day.

 

“Thankfully, that’s why I am even more positive now is that my back is actually now behaving. I feel like I have got stronger in those areas in terms of my glutes, hamstrings, and all those supporting areas but for some reason my shoulder and neck decided to go crazy on me this year and it’s a case where we are not really sure of what is going on but it really has affected both training and competition hence why I am basically just going at it (competition) again.

“But we’re slowly making progress. I still have a couple weeks to go, practice is picking up which I am extremely grateful for so I just need to continue racing and translate training into competition.”

Smith's coach and support team are working diligently to address her physical challenges and fine-tune her race execution in preparation for the upcoming trials. With just six weeks remaining, Smith is determined to translate her training efforts into competitive success and secure her spot on the Olympic team.

 

 

As Julian Forte stepped onto the track at the Jamaica Athletic Invitational, last Saturday, he carried with him a mixture of concern and determination. This as he only recently returned from nursing an Achilles injury, which threatened to derail his season.

Despite his concerns, Forte, through stubborn determination and a desire to enjoy a successful season, delivered a stellar performance to win the men’s 100m in a season’s best 10.02 seconds, as he improved on the 10.07s he ran a week prior at the JAAA’s All Comers Meet, also staged at the National Stadium.

Not only did the winning time solidify Forte’s hold as the fastest Jamaican male sprinter this year, but it was also a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into his training, which is laser-focused on his ultimate goal – securing a spot on the Olympic podium.

“I'm feeling good. I'm really pleased with my performance and really pleased with where I'm at right now. It hasn't been smooth sailing, but I am really grateful to have come out with a victory,” Forte said, a hint of relief in his voice, as he iced his hamstring.

“My hamstring never felt a 100 per cent at about 60 metres in, but I never wanted to stop. It didn't feel that bad, so I just kind of carried on with the race. It doesn't feel like anything serious, so I just have to go back, assess it and make sure I come back stronger,” he shared.

With the National Trials to select the country’s athletics team to this summer’s Paris Olympic Games on the horizon, Forte's focus has been on maintaining his fitness and avoiding any setbacks, which is crucial in determining his path to the global multi-sport showpiece dubbed the pinnacle of every athlete’s career.

While things don’t always go as planned, the 31-year-old, who at his optimum clocked personal best times of 9.91s and 19.97s for the 100m and 200m, intends to keep pushing himself, remain positive, and trust his abilities.

Simply put, with hard work and a bit of luck, Forte, who was a part of the 4X100m relay team that placed fourth at the Tokyo Games, and boast a Commonwealth Games relay gold medal, has no doubt that he can achieve his dreams of securing an Olympic medal.

“I just came back about five weeks ago; I was out with an Achilles injury for about seven weeks, so it's never smooth sailing for me and the past seasons were never injury free. But we're trying to learn from each injury and find a way to still compete and still do well,” said Forte, who has represented Jamaica at the 2012, 2015 and 2017 World Athletics Championships.

“Like I said earlier, I like where I'm at. I think the execution is well done and just glad for victory. So, my expectation is definitely to make it to Paris where I am aiming for a medal at the Games. That is the goal,” he declared.

For now, Forte has his sights on the Diamond League Meet in Rabat, on Sunday, where he will face off against some of the world's top sprinters.

“The Diamond League is always a tough competition, but I'm looking forward to the challenge,” he ended.

Jamaican discus thrower Traves Smikle is riding high on confidence after a convincing win at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational and is now setting his sights on the upcoming Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Morocco, where he will face a formidable field of world-class competitors.

Smikle, who departs the island on Wednesday for the prestigious Diamond League event on Sunday, expressed both excitement and determination about his first appearance in the series. "Encountering a discus field like the one in Rabat for my first Diamond League meet is pretty exciting and crazy at the same time," said Smikle, who has had five wins on the trot this season. "Not many of the big names are missing and I just need to go out there and compete. It’s a game of distance and these guys are good quality throwers, so I just need to hold my own and compete."

His recent performance at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational demonstrated Smikle's capabilities, as he threw an impressive 66.89m to secure victory over his compatriot Fedrick Dacres. Reflecting on this achievement, Smikle emphasized the importance of consistency and translating his current form to European competitions.

"Before coming into this competition, I felt a little tired during the training sessions in the days before," Smikle noted following his win on Saturday. "Coming out today and having another 66m throw is pretty respectable. I am working on my consistency; what I need to do now is when I go to Europe, I translate this sort of performance and better to be competitive among the field."

Looking ahead to his aspirations for the Olympics in Paris this summer, Smikle is focused on pushing his limits and achieving greater distances. "I want to get 68, 69, 70m in a stadium," he explained. "That is what I am working on."

When asked about the steps needed to reach these targets, Smikle highlighted the importance of dedication, patience, and consistency in training. "It’s going to take more work, patience, and greater consistency," emphasized Smikle, who, so far this season, has won with throws of 67.57m, 67.83m, 65.96m, 66.03m and 66.89m. "If you can build up your level of consistency, then at some point your upper limit must get higher."

 

 

Rising American sprinter Matthew Boling expressed his excitement and enthusiasm after competing in the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on Saturday, where he ran a season's best time of 44.98 in the 400m.

Boling, who finished second behind Great Britain's Matthew Hudson Smith, spoke to Sportsmax.TV about his first-time experience in Jamaica and the atmosphere that fueled his performance.

"Yea, I loved the crowd. I like my little intro, everyone cheered and it got me hyped," Boling shared. "I was in the zone and I had to beat my chest a little bit."

Despite his impressive run, Boling indicated that he plans to rest before the upcoming USA trials, hinting at a potential return to Jamaica in the future. "I’d love to come back," he mentioned, reflecting on the lively reception he received from the Jamaican fans.

Regarding his overall season and the challenge of competing in both the 200m and 400m events, Boling expressed satisfaction with his progress, hinting that he could deliver something special at the USA Olympic trials in late June. "I think it’s been going great; the 400m and the 200m seems to be the way I’m heading this year," Boling stated. "I’ve run 10.06, 20.03 and 44.98 so far so I think I’m getting in good shape and getting ready to bust something big out at trials."

Acknowledging the difficulty of taking on the 200m/400m challenge, Boling maintained a positive outlook. "It’s pretty tough but I’m young I’ll recover quick," he remarked with a big smile, demonstrating his determination and optimism for the upcoming competitions.

Christian Coleman, the American sprinter and member of the USA's 4x100m relay team, is confident in the team's ability to challenge and potentially break Jamaica's long-standing 4x100m relay world record of 36.84 seconds, set at the 2012 London Olympics by Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, and Usain Bolt.

Speaking after a press conference in Jamaica last week Thursday before he participated in the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on Saturday, Coleman emphasized the USA's recent relay performance of 37.40 at recent World Relays in the Bahamas, despite key athletes like himself, Fred Kerley, and Erriyon Knighton missing from the team.

A member of the USA team that ran 37.10 at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Coleman suggested that his country’s top sprinters executing the essential elements of relay running like smoother baton exchanges, could lead to significant improvements.

"I think it's really not that difficult. It's not that hard. We make it a lot harder than it needs to be," Coleman explained. "If we just space those zones out, everybody focuses on their job, I think we have all the speed and talent to tackle that world record."

Coleman's confidence in the team's abilities underscores their ambitions for the upcoming track and field season, especially at the Olympic Games in Paris where the USA will start as hot favourites to win the gold medal.

While breaking records isn't the primary focus, Coleman believes that with proper execution and teamwork, they can challenge historic achievements like Jamaica's 4x100m world record.

With that in mind, what leg does Coleman believe is the best fit for him?

"We talk about it all the time because I feel like I can do first leg just because I know what I'm gonna do. I feel like when I do my thing, it takes a lot of the pressure off the rest of the team because I'm gonna get us out and I know when the stick is moving through that zone and second leg is going down the back-stretch and we already in the lead, everybody else can just kind of relax and just bring it home.

“But I feel if we just going in terms of trying to just run our absolute best time, I don't know if it might be suitable for me to run first leg, ‘because I feel like I'm full well capable of running any leg. I trust myself more than anybody when it comes to working the zone and getting it through. So I don't know, second, third, fourth, whatever they need me at, obviously I'm gonna do it.”

On Saturday, Coleman was fifth in the 200m in 20.46. Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes claimed victory with a sizzling run of 19.96. The USA’s Fred Kerley was second in 20.17 with Frenchman Pablo Mateo not far behind in 20.20 for third.

 

 

 

 

 

In every aspect of life, moments of triumph are often accompanied by tears of joy, and for Jamaican sprinter Krystal Sloley, achieving a massive personal best of 11.09 seconds was no exception. Immediately after she crossed the finish line in second position in the women’s 100m at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, Sloley’s emotions overflowed, tears streaming down her face as she celebrated a milestone in her athletic journey.

Many might not understand why her accomplishment is such a big deal, but for Sloley, the road to get there has been marked by challenges, setbacks, and even self-doubt. But through it all, she remained steadfast in her pursuit of excellence.

In fact, it was only a week ago that Sloley lowered her personal best from 11.27s to 11.25s, which she took apart with the breathtaking performance behind Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith, who opened her season with an impressive 10.91s clocking at the National Stadium, on Saturday.

“It hasn't been easy. It has been an uphill battle with my mental life and self-belief, even in warm up, I was just talking to myself, coaching myself, because my weakest point was my start and I knew that once I got that, the rest is history. I was not expecting such a fast time, maybe 11.1, but I am happy at the outcome,” Sloley said, her voice trembling with emotion.

“It was such a pleasure to feed off of the energy of Marie and the other runners. I knew it was a high-quality field, because I was originally supposed to run in the B final, and while warming up, I realized I was in the A final against the top ladies. I really wish I had more time to prepare myself mentally before I came out here physically, but it worked out for the best,” she added.

Sloley, who found her passion for track and field at Ardenne Preparatory, and later honed her craft at Campion College, recalled how her journey to the triumphant moment was filled with highs and lows, from gruelling training sessions to heartbreaking defeats. But with each setback, particularly now at the senior level at the University of Technology – where she is studying Architecture –she emerged stronger and more determined than ever, fuelled by a burning desire to prove herself on the world stage.

“It was definitely hard. I would be lying if I said it was easy in terms of how I endured the training sessions, because it's not just doing training sessions with MVP (Track Club), it's the fact that I have to strike a definitive balance between not just MVP’s gruelling training, but also architecture, and to me, I feel like that's two degrees,” Sloley said with a chuckle.

She continued: “Coming from such a rigorous academic program such as Campion and also doing track and field there, I found it manageable, and I feel like I excelled pretty well through the seven years doing both academic and track and field. But I knew that entering a new level of not just training, it's professional training, and not just regular school, it's university…It's my degree, I knew it would be a next step, but I never knew that the thread of that step would have been so steep.

“So, it was definitely hard. I remember countless times crying on the dorm floor, wondering how I'm going to manage to strike the balance at this level. Even before I started university, it was questionable whether or not I was going to actually stop track and field to pursue the degree and then continue after, but I must say, God carried me through and here I am now.”

As she reflected on her journey, the 22-year-old third-year student’s thoughts turned to her mother, whose unwavering support has been the driving force behind her pursuit of glory.

"My mother is my rock, my biggest inspiration. It’s like when the momentum on the swing drops, she's been that push that you need on your back to continue swinging. She has encouraged me through it all, even those questionable doubts that I had about whether to stop track and field or pursue school,” Sloley told SportsMax.TV.

“She's been my prayer warrior, so she has been behind me, beside me, pulling me, she's been that driving force for me, my biggest motivation. She never lived the life that she gave me, so that also motivates me to reward her for what she has done for me because I'm so grateful and thankful for her,” she shared.

Besides her new personal best clocking, Sloley described making Jamaica’s team to the 2019 NACAC Championships as her biggest accomplishment, and with the memory of that outing in Mexico still very much fresh on her mind, she now has her sights set on repeating the feat sooner rather than later.