Five representatives from the English-speaking Caribbean will be among 45 match officials that will oversee the inaugural edition of the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup scheduled for February 17 to March 10 in the United States.

The five, comprises three Jamaicans – referees Odette Hamilton, Daneon Parchment and assistant referee Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing –and two Trinidadians in assistant referee Carissa Douglas-Jacob and referee Crystal Sobers.

All five are experienced in their own right, having officiated at one or more major tournament at some point in their respective careers. However, Head of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Referees department, Cardella Samuels, believes that with this being the first ever Women’s Gold Cup tournament, the appoint of the Jamaicans, in particular, speaks to some significance where their consistency and hard work are concerned.

“First, I must take the time to congratulate our Jamaican officials on their appointment. It is always a great feeling having our Match Officials being selected to officiate in these major tournaments. This is where we can say their hard work has paid off,” Samuels told SportsMax.TV.

“I must also laud the effort of the JFF and its referees programme, which ensures its match officials are consistently participating in Concacaf events, and credit also goes to the instructors who have been ensuring they (officials) are prepared,” she added.

The Gold Cup, being hailed as the new flagship competition for women's national teams will be played across four venues in three United States metropolitan areas.

Caribbean teams Guyana, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti, are among six teams set to contest the preliminary round at Dignity Health Sports Park Track and Field Stadium on February 17.  Guatemala and El Salvador are the others.

The winning teams will advance to the group stage to join United States, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Canada.

That 12-team group stage will be played between February 20 and 28, at Dignity Health Sports Park (Group A), Snapdragon Stadium (Group B), and Shell Energy Stadium (Group C). After round-robin play, the group winners, runners-up, and two best third-place finishers, will advance to the quarter-final round, scheduled for March 2 and 3, at BMO Stadium.

This will be followed by the semi-final round and final at Snapdragon Stadium on March 6 and 10, respectively.

English-speaking Caribbean officials: Odette Hamilton (referee), Daneon Parchment (video match official), Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing (assistant referee), Carissa Douglas-Jacob (assistant referee), Crystal Sobers (support referee).

Damion Thomas of Jamaica and Charisma Taylor of the Bahamas showcased their athletic prowess at the 2024 edition of the Meeting de Mondeville in France on Wednesday, claiming victory in their respective hurdles events.

Thomas, who has had his issues with injuries in the past couple of years, stormed to a close victory in the 60m hurdles, winning in a time of 7.63. The time reflected a level of consistency from the Jamaican, who was only 0.02 slower than the 7.61 he ran on Saturday when he notched his first win as a professional athlete.

Not far behind was Elmo Lakka. The Fin clocked 7.68 for second place with Mikdat Sevler of Turkey trailing in third in 7.78.

It was a much easier affair for Taylor in the women’s sprint hurdles event. The Bahamian was a comfortable winner in 7.94. However, the battle for second place between Sidonie Fiadnanantsoa and Yumi Tanaka was much closer with the athlete from Madagascar being awarded second place having been determined to be ahead by a few hundredths of a second ahead of the Japanese hurdler.

 

Blaise Bicknell brushed aside Darian King 6-1 6-0 to draw Jamaica level at 2-2 and extend their World Group II Davis Cup Playoff tie to a fifth and deciding rubber at the Eric Bell Centre in Kingston.

King, hampered by a left knee injury, was never in the contest as Bicknell dominated exhibition style.

"I played well throughout. Of course, he's not 100 percent but I thought I made very good decisions out there and I made him work for what he needed to."

Jamaica, who took the lead through Bicknell in the first singles rubber, fell behind after King beat Rowland Phillips to close Saturday and then returned alongside Haydn Lewis to snatch a thrilling doubles contest to start Sunday's action.

It means the tie will be decided by Jamaica's Phillips and Kaipo Marshall of Barbados and Bicknell, ranked 319 in the world said he has all confidence that Phillips can get the job done for Jamaica.

"If there's anyone I want in this position is Randy because he's Mr Davis Cup, as we call him."

Phillips is Jamaica's winningest Davis Cup player with 26 wins against 12 losses.

Marshall has recorded just one win in eight matches but that success came heroically against Pacific Oceania's Clement Mainguy last year when he rallied from a set and 4-5 down to win and keep Barbados in Group II.

The winner of this tie will remain in Group II, while loser will be relegated to Group III this summer. from my Galaxy

 

Darian King and Haydn Lewis have given Barbados a 2-1 lead over Jamaica after defeating Blaise Bicknell and Rowland Phillips in a thrilling doubles rubber in their World Group II Davis Cup Playoff tie at the Eric Bell Centre in Kingston.

King and Lewis rallied from a set down to secure victory 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The tie was locked at 1-1 after Saturday's opening day which saw Bicknell beating Kaipo Marshall 6-1 3-6 6-1 and King edging Phillips in a 6-3 3-6 7-5 thriller.

The Jamaican pair edged a very tight first set, after breaking Lewis' serve in the seventh game, before they closed it out at the second opportunity by again breaking the Barbadians in the ninth.

While the first set had just one break of serve, there were three in the second with Barbados claiming two in the third and seventh games before King served out the set at love.

It set up a blockbuster third set and it was Barbados who held their nerve on the back of an outstanding performance from Lewis.

The lefty volleyed and returned superbly and then closed it out with precision serving.

"I have been in this situation a lot of times and I understand Darian, he's been my partner for many years, so I know that he can get down, so a lot of times I have to be the one to take control."

The 38-year-old has been representing Barbados at this level for 22 years and he drew on all his experience in the final set.

He was clinical in the decider, controlling the big moments when others seemed indecisive.

Overall it was a high quality match, with all four players having their moments.

King saved four set points when serving down 1-2 in the third, pulling out the marathon game despite a controversial line call unfortunately going against them.

Another big moment was when the Jamaicans saved four break points when Phillips was serving at 3-3, but Barbados ultimately won the marathon game after 20 minutes, which was the crucial break needed to take the match.

Blaise Bicknell is currently facing Darian King in the first reverse singles, a match Jamaica must win to stay alive in the tie, and remain in Group II.

 

Things remain evenly poised between Jamaica and Barbados at 1-1 in their World Group II Davis Cup playoff tie, as Darian King bettered Jamaican counterpart Rowland Phillips in an entertaining second rubber at the Eric Bell Tennis Centre in Kingston on Saturday.

After Jamaica’s Blaise Bicknell recovered from a second set slump to beat Kaipo Marshall 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in the first contest, King outlasted Phillips 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in a tough encounter that took two hours and 54 minutes to decide a winner.

The contest, as expected, was characterized by long grinding rallies given the style of play of both King and Phillips.

In the end, it was the 31-year-old Barbadian ranked at 547 in the world that took top honours over his 30-year-old opponent, who played with a heavily bandaged right knee.

Action concludes on Sunday with the doubles rubber and reverse singles.

Blaise Bicknell recovered from a second set slump to beat Kaipo Marshall and give Jamaica the advantage against Barbados following the first rubber of their World Group II Davis Cup playoff tie at the Eric Bell Tennis Centre in Kingston on Saturday.

Bicknell prevailed 6-1 3-6 6-1.

Despite a sluggish start, and the first three games going to deuce, Bicknell saved break point in the opening game of the contest and fought to a 3-0 lead, before ultimately running away with the set 6-1.

The 21-year-old Barbadian responded in the second set, breaking early, before shocking the partisan crowd by rushing to a 3-0 lead.

However, the 22-year-old Bicknell, ranked 319 in the world and number one in the Caribbean, momentarily pulled his game together with precise serving and strong forehands to level at three apiece.

The momentum again shifted with Marshall breaking once on his way to winning the next three games and take the set 6-3.

He saved three break points and squandered three set points, before holding his nerve when Bicknell dumped a backhand return in the net. 

Last year, Marshall heroically, came from a set and 4-5 down to beat Pacific Oceania's Clement Mainguy to keep Barbados in group II, but he couldn't complete this mission, as Bicknell, sensing the challenge, stepped up and ran away with the third 6-1, punctuating the victory with a second serve ace.

"I didn't play my best but I found a way to get the job done," Bicknell said following the win in sweltering heat.

"I played a good first and third set and once I relaxed I was comfortable,” he added.

Marshall also felt he was far from his best.

"I definitely didn't play the level I wanted to today, I felt definitely like I was right there with him, but I felt like I defeated myself,” he lamented.

Neither player hit their best game on the day, but ultimately, Bicknell's superior quality was the difference.

There were moments he looked like the man who is coming off his first ATP challenger title. His serve out wide on the deuce court in big moments was a major factor, and his heavy forehand also did a lot of damage.

Marshall struggled on second serve. He hit four doubles in his first service game, a problem which persisted throughout the match.

The day's second rubber between Darian King of Barbados and Rowland Phillips of Jamaica is currently underway.

Action concludes on Sunday with the doubles rubber and reverse singles.

Caribbean representatives Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica had to settle for eighth and 16th positions respectively after both produced credible efforts at the FIH Hockey 5s World Cup in Muscat, Oman, on Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago suffered a narrow 5-7 loss to Kenya in the seventh and eighth-place playoff, while Jamaica, making an historic appearance at the tournament, also went down by two goals in their 2-4 loss to Fiji in the 15th-16th-place encounter.

Netherlands were crowned champions following their 5-2 beating of Malaysia in the final.

Earlier in the tournament, Trinidad and Tobago registered a 5-5 stalemate with Australia, defeated Kenya 7-2 and then thumped New Zealand 11-4.

However, the twin island republic lost their quarter-final tie 4-5 against Malaysia, and then lost 5-8 to Egypt in the fifth to eighth-place playoff.

Meanwhile, the Jamaicans lost all six games played, but would have benefitted immensely from their debut outing on the world stage.

The Duvaughn Henlon-coached team first suffered a 2-10 loss to Egypt, but produced a more respectable showing in their 4-6 loss to Switzerland in their second encounter. They were also beaten 13-0 and 15-2 and 8-1 by India, Pakistan and United States respectively.

Fabian Stewart, Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) president, took heart from the team’s performance and, by extension, top 16 ranking, which he believes is a solid platform to build on going forward.

“The positive of participating in this tournament is that Jamaica is in the top 16 of countries that are playing hockey5s. We earned our spot to come to this tournament and it is clear that we are in the top 16. So we are in the top tier, globally,” said Stewart.

“The players have learnt a lot. The game is played in a particular manner and all the players can actually see the sort of speed they play with.

“We played against top-tier countries that we never got an opportunity to see or play against, but we understand that how we played in parts, we can actually handle them, but we have to be more consistent. But our coaches and staff have seen what is required to operate at this level,” he added.

With the country basically in a rebuilding phase where getting swimmers back on the Olympic stage is concerned, Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) president Lance Rochester says the immediate focus of his administration is to provide the necessary backing to top level athletes, who boast the potential to achieve the feat.

Apart from decorated five-time Olympian Alia Atkinson, only Timothy Wynter and Keanan Dols, who showed at the 2016 and 2020 Games in Rio and Tokyo respectively, have made the step forward in recent times. But with all three now retired, it is left to be seen if and when other Jamaican swimmers will appear on that big stage.

While there are a number of prospects namely Kito Campbell, Zaneta Alvaranga, Sidrell Williams, Emily MacDonald, Sabrina Lyn, Nathaniel Thomas, Kaheem Lozer and Kyle Sinclair, Rochester is well aware that along with hard work, the swimmers –particularly those in universities –also require support, financial and otherwise, to bring their Olympic dream to fruition.

Outside of Williams, who will be hunting qualification to this year’s Paris Olympic Games at the 28th Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Meet, the others are first- and second-year students all in strong university programmes, which include gym and sports psychology.

However, financial assistance could provide an avenue for those swimmers to travel to highly-competitive swim meets in the Americas to further improve their craft.

“Swimming has very, very bright prospects for Jamaica. Not just swimming, but all aquatic sports. What we're focused on now is providing the best investments to those athletes at the elite level who are vying for placement within the Paris Olympic Games and the Olympic cycle right after that,” Rochester told SportsMax.TV during the launch of the Karl Dalhouse meet on Tuesday.

“So, the question is how to invest in them, how to provide them with the right competition experience, locally and overseas, and also the investments in terms of technology and high performance that they will need, so that’s what we are focused on that right now,” he added.

At the same time, Rochester explained that they also have sights set on a long-term project which includes an expansion of swim programmes to both unearth and develop talent right across the island.

“So, we are meeting with regard to our expansion programme targeting more pools, to find the talent that exists in our learn to swim programme and develop it appropriately over time. This of course is a 20-year project, but we're embarking on that starting now,” he shared.

On that note, Rochester pointed to the significance of swim meets such as the Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational in the development of age group swimmers, in particular.

This year’s staging of the meet hosted by Y-Speedos Swim Club, serves as a qualifier to the Paris Olympic Games, and will see over 500 swimmers, including those from four clubs in the Cayman Islands and Florida, parade their skills over three days from Friday (February 2) to Sunday (February 4).

“The Karl Dalhouse meet is exceptionally important and has been for many athletes over the years. Many coaches will time this meet in terms of qualification needs for bigger events. Many coaches will time this meet to ensure their athlete peaks at the right time. It's exceptionally well-organized, well supported by some very fast swimmers overseas and it augurs well for the development of our swimming in Jamaica that we have meets as important as these and others as well,” the president declared.

Finally, Rochester, who recently took office stressed the need for corporate sponsorship, which he said will be critical in terms of achieving their goals to invest in swimmers among other things.

“We are looking to demonstrate to corporate Jamaica why the ASAJ is a great investment opportunity. Swimming, yes, but all our eight aquatic disciplines, how we manage our governance our transparency, our accountability, what we're able to deliver to our athletes with learn to swim, nutrition, sports psychology and producing great athletes over the long term. So, we're encouraging our partners to come on board with us and support us in this mission to develop Jamaica,” Rochester ended.

While pleased with aspects of their team’s display in the first warm-up contest, Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-20 Men’s Head coach Brian Haynes and his Jamaican counterpart John Wall are optimistic of a more efficient display from their respective units when the two teams meet again on Thursday.

The young Soca Warriors edged the young Reggae Boyz 3-2 in the first contest at the University of TT, O'Meara Campus recently, with Lindell Sween, Levi Jones and Michael Chaves on target for the hosts, while Jahmani Bell and Demarion Harris, pulled things back for Jamaica.

That contest, both coaches believe, not only provided the impetus needed to finalize selection of their respective squads for next month’s Caribbean phase of the Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championships, as they only had a few training sessions prior, which doesn’t necessarily assist in highlighting the true competitive nature and, by extension, cohesiveness of the teams.

Haynes expressed satisfaction with the progress of his players, especially as he explored different combinations.

"As far as I am concerned the exercise was good. Nobody's hurt, thank God. The guys worked hard and the main group, the group that started, they did what we wanted them to do, and I thought the guys that came in did a good job as well,” Haynes said.

"I commend the Jamaica team for coming down and giving us a good game, because this is what we need and this is what they need and hopefully this propels us to keep playing at the level I know we can,” he added.

Still, no performance is ever perfect, and as such, Haynes said the objective remains to strengthen their flaws in all areas to ensure that the young Soca Warriors not only prove more formidable in the next game, but also against their more illustrious opponents in future fixtures.

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica will lock horns in the second warm-up encounter on Thursday at Larry Gomes Stadium at 4:00 pm.

For the upcoming tournament, Haynes’s side will host Group D which includes Canada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines with only the group winner set to progress.

"There are things we have to work on, but right now I am really happy with the result for the boys,” Haynes noted.

Wall echoed similar sentiments, even as the young Reggae Boyz held Police FC’s youth team to a goalless stalemate in another encounter.

"The whole idea of these games is to create relationships and a common understanding on our game model. So, there are instances where we are kind of pleased with what we saw and for me it’s the bigger picture of getting ourselves ready and competitive for the tournament,” Wall shared.

"One of the core non-negotiables that we have is that no matter what, we don’t give up because we are playing for our nation which is a big responsibility.  So, there are areas we need to improve on with regards to our pressing, counter-pressing and some other technical things in that region,” he reasoned.

Wall’s side will contest Group F with Bermuda, Grenada and Martinique in St Kitts and Nevis in the upcoming tournament.

After round-robin play in the Concacaf qualifying opening round between February 23 and March 2, the group winners will progress to the Championship round to join the six pre-seeded nations – United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz are now aware that they will face Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Dominica in Group E in second round action of the 2026 Concacaf World Cup qualification.

Their other opponent will come from the first round playoff tie between British Virgin Islands or US Virgin Islands. It was revealed during Thursday's draw which took place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland.

With hosts Mexico, United States and Canada, all earning automatic qualification, the qualifiers will be contested among the other 32 FIFA affiliated Concacaf member associations. The second round of qualifiers will see the two first round winners, joining the confederation's remaining 28 participating member associations.

The first round of qualifying will take place in March 2024 between the four lowest-ranked Concacaf Member Associations based on the FIFA Men’s Rankings as of December 2023. These two-legged matchups will see British Virgins Islands opposing US Virgin Islands in Playoff one, while Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla will lock horns in Playoff two.

From there, the second round of qualifiers will see the two first round winners, join the confederation's remaining 28 participating member associations to make 30 teams divided into six groups of five teams.

Following single round-robin matches (two home and two away) in the second round, the six group winners and runners-up will progress to the final round (12 teams total).

The Second Round will be played over the course of two matchdays in June 2024 and then another two matchdays in June 2025.

Second Round Grouping

Group A: Honduras, Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands

Group B: Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Bahamas

Group C: Haiti, Curaçao, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Aruba

Group D: Panama, Nicaragua, Guyana, Montserrat, Belize

Group E: Jamaica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Winner Playoff 2 (British Virgin Islands-US Virgin Islands)

Group F: El Salvador, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Winner Playoff 1 (Turks and Caicos Islands-Anguilla)

Much like his Jamaican counterpart John Wall, Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Brian Haynes is in the process of trying to find the best possible squad to parade at the upcoming Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championships.

As such, the three-warm up matches between the two is a welcome addition to up the tempo of their preparations, as it not only promises good competition, but more importantly, will give both coaches a better indicator of the quality of respective players ahead of the tournament, which serves as a qualifier to next year’s FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup in Chile.

The young Soca Warriors will face their young Reggae Boyz counterparts at 6:00pm on Thursday at St James Police Barracks, and again at 4:00pm on Sunday and February 1 at the Larry Gomes Stadium. Haynes is expecting players to put their best foot forward, especially with spots up for grabs.

“It’s going to be games against a team from the Caribbean first of all with the kind of play that we’re accustomed to. But at the same time, it’s quality games and we are going to have to come with our best effort to show these guys that we can play, not only play but to win because as far as I’m concerned that’s what is going to bring the crowds to the stadium,” Haynes told TTFA Media

“We are going to work hard and try to win games. I expect these matches to be well contested so that it serves its purpose in this phase of our preparations,” he added.

For the upcoming tournament, Trinidad and Tobago will host Group D which includes Canada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines. If what Haynes has seen in preparation so far is anything to go by, then he is expecting a good showing in the tournament.

“I’m at a point where I can start to see what the team is going to look like. Everybody is not here as yet but all the players who are here at the moment in T&T are doing what they are supposed to do,” Haynes shared.

“I’ve seen improvements in the defending, into the midfield and when we go forward and as far as I’m concerned, all those are things that we still need to sharpen up. We haven’t been good on finishing. One goal in a game of 90 minutes is good so far but we need to improve in getting more goals,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Jamaicans for their part, will contest Group F with Bermuda, Grenada and Martinique in St Kitts and Nevis, and Wall is pleased with how things have progressed so far, as he looks ahead to the warm-up fixtures.

“Trinidad has been treating us good, we have had two trainings so far, we like to create an environment as similar as possible to tournament conditions. We have a lot of things to cover in terms of our attacking and defending but the main reference is the first game (against Trinidad) and from there we can map our way forward,” Wall said.

“I know Brian Haynes is pretty seasoned and experienced and I think we should respect them but at the point where we have to play our own game and start building the foundation for what we want to do in the tournament from this point on. So, for me, it makes a whole lot of sense that the JFF allowed us to come here as part of the process of getting prepared for St Kitts and Nevis,” he added.

After round-robin play in the Concacaf qualifying opening round between February 23 and March 2, the group winners will progress to the Championship round to join the six pre-seeded nations – United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

 The World Athletics Continental Tour Silver event, Racers Grand Prix will host its 2024 staging on Saturday, June 1 at the National Stadium.

Known globally as Jamaica’s foremost track and field meet credited with showcasing many of Jamaica’s most decorated athletes, Racers Grand Prix promises an exhilarating three-hour demonstration of athletic excellence.

As the well-supported meet returns to its pride and place on the sporting calendar for the second year post-pandemic, Racers Grand Prix CEO Devon Blake is prepared to raise the engagement for fans of the sport.

“As usual we will have a star-studded lineup of international and Jamaican athletes. A major focus for this year's meet will be our fan engagement activities. We are working on new ways for attendees to immerse themselves in the Grand Prix experience. We are proud to announce that for the first time this year, fans of track and field will be able to sign up online for free tickets to the meet,” Blake shared

 While deliberations continue to determine the meet lineup for 2024, Blake is keen to highlight the Racers Track Club members to watch at this year’s meet.

 “It's too early to have any confirmed athletes who are not part of Racers Track Club. However, we are expecting exemplary things from Oblique Seville (who leads the new generation of 100m athletes), Antonio Watson (Jamaica's first World Championship gold medallist in over 40 years), and Zharnel Hughes (British 100m and 200m record holder),” Blake added.

 Racers Grand Prix was conceived by Chairman Glen Mills and launched in 2016. Today it stands as a premier Track and Field Meet showcasing top talents from the Racers Track and Field Club, Jamaica and around the world. The event plays a pivotal role in developing Jamaica's athletics and the Racers Track and Field Club.

 Racer’s Grand Prix Organizing Committee Chairman, Glen Mills is particularly excited to facilitate the development of local talent at this year’s meet as a precursor to the Olympics.

“This is an Olympic year and the Racers Grand Prix offers our Jamaican athletes the perfect opportunity to measure themselves against the best in the world in front of their home fans and also assess their progress in preparation for the Olympics,” Glen Mills commented.

World champions Shericka Jackson and Antonio Watson were crowned Jamaica’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the year, respectively, at the 2023 RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday.

Jackson claimed the award for the first time after a phenomenal 2023 season which saw her successfully defend her World 200m title with a personal best 21.41, the second fastest time ever, in Budapest in August.

In addition to her 200m title, Jackson also ran 10.72 for 100m silver. She ended her season with the sprint double at the Diamond League Final in Eugene with times of 10.70 and 21.57, respectively, in September.

The 29-year-old also achieved a new personal best in the 100m with 10.65, the fifth fastest time ever, to defend her National title in July.

Antonio Watson shocked the world to become the first Jamaican man in 40 years to win 400m gold at the World Championships.

After running a massive personal best 44.14 in the semi-finals, the 22-year-old produced 44.22 to take gold in the final. Watson also ran 44.54 for second at the National Championships in July.

Watson also took home the people’s choice award for his gold medal winning performance.

Danielle Williams was named runner-up for Sportswoman of the Year while Hansle Parchment was runner-up for Sportsman of the Year.

Williams, like Watson, shocked the world in Budapest by claiming her second 100m hurdles World title, the other coming all the way back in 2015.

Parchment, the reigning Olympic champion, claimed his second World Championship silver medal with a 13.07 effort in Budapest. He followed that up in September with a new personal best 12.93 to win at the Diamond League Final in Eugene.

The recipient of the 2023 Icon Award was 400m hurdles Olympic and World champion Deon Hemmings-McCatty while West Indies Under-19 batsman Jordan Johnson was named the winner of the VM Group Y.O.U.T.H award.

Some other athletes receiving awards for their individual sports included CAC Games bronze medallist Tahlia Richardson for badminton, Ricardo “Big 12” Brown for boxing, Sherea Clarke and Wayne McCalla for bodybuilding, West Indies batter Rashada Williams for cricket and Sara Misir and Fraser McConnell for motorsport.

Arguably Jamaica’s two most successful sports teams, the Sunshine Girls and the Reggae Girls, were given special awards for their performances in 2023.

The Reggae Girls were rewarded for their historic performance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July 20-August 20.

They became the first Caribbean team ever, male or female, to advance to the Round of 16 at a FIFA World Cup.

The Sunshine Girls also had a historically good year with a gold medal at the CAC Games held in El Salvador from June 25-29 and bronze at the Netball World Cup held from July 28-August 6 in South Africa.

That World Cup also saw the Jamaicans get their first ever World Cup win over world number one and eventual champions, Australia.

In the world of athletics, dreams are often forged on the track, shaped by the relentless pursuit of excellence. For Lanae-Tava Thomas, a 22-year-old sprinter with aspirations of donning the vibrant colors of Jamaica at the 2024 Paris Olympics, the journey has been one of resilience, determination, and a rollercoaster of emotions.

A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, where she shared the track with compatriot Kevona Davis and St Lucia's track sensation Julien Alfred, Lanae-Tava Thomas boasts impressive personal bests of 11.06 in the 100m and 22.38 in the 200m. Born in Jamaica and educated at Vaz Prep, she migrated to the United States over a decade ago and pursued her studies in Human Biology at the University of Texas.

Thomas's desire to represent Jamaica led her to initiate the complex process of transferring allegiance from the United States. However, administrative roadblocks threatened to shatter her dreams, as she discovered last July after the Jamaica national championships to select a team for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Devastated after finishing third in the 200m, Thomas believed she had secured a spot on her first national team for the World Championships, only to learn that her transfer had not been completed. In an exclusive interview, Thomas recounted the emotional turmoil she experienced during that tumultuous period.

“I was informed (by World Athletics) that whenever I sent through the transfer, it was completed. I was informed that it was already completed by the time I started competing (at the national championships). So then we got there they said that I needed to get a passport or something like that for the transfer to be… I don't even remember the term they used,” Thomas revealed.

The confusion persisted as Thomas, armed with the belief that her transfer was complete, faced further setbacks at the national stadium after advancing to the finals of the 200m.

 

 “They (meet officials) kept leaving me off the finals board, saying that I couldn't compete in the finals because of something to do with the transfer. And I said ‘No, my transfer was already completed, I have the passport and everything was already set, which is what both I and JAAA had thought."

Yet, the twist of fate unfolded when World Athletics emailed her coach Eldrick Floreal, revealing the transfer was not completed due to a scheduling change. Thomas, left in the dark, faced the harsh reality that she would miss the World Championships despite her outstanding performance.

“It was traumatic. After the national championship, I was so excited. I feel like as a track and field athlete, the two things you look forward to are World Championships and Olympics," she said. "So competing and making it into the World Championship, not because of any technicality but because you actually run and place, that's like a great thing for you to achieve, it's just something that is very hard to do, especially for Jamaica."

Reflecting on the moment she discovered she wasn't on the team to Budapest, Thomas shared, "It was very devastating. They didn't notify me whatsoever when they posted the list online of all the athletes competing for Jamaica, and I wasn't on it. That's when I was notified. No one, no one like World Athletics, nobody had told me personally that I wasn't competing."

 

Despite the heartbreak, Thomas remained resilient. The completion of her transfer of allegiance in October 2023 opened the door to a renewed sense of hope and determination. As she anticipates the Jamaica national championships in June, where a top-three finish secures her spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Thomas, who signed a professional contract with PUMA following the Jamaican trials, is eager to make a statement.

“It feels so great. All I will say is that they better be ready for me. I already competed last year and proved that we can do what we can do. They're not supposed to expect nothing less. I'm just going to get there and do what I've been doing, what I can do, and what I have done in the past. Nobody can stop me from there," she declared with confidence.

 

 

 

 

It is always exciting when a club makes its debut on a stage which they long dreamed of. Such is the case of Jamaica Premier League outfit Cavalier, who is among the first-timers set to grace this year’s edition of the Concacaf Champions Cup, after they finished as runner-up in last year’s Concacaf Caribbean Cup.

Anchoring what is the youngest team in Jamaica’s top-flight league is goalkeeper Vino Barclett, who started all eight matches for Cavalier during the tournament, and made 28 saves, which assisted the Rudolph Speid-coached team to the Caribbean Cup showpiece.

Though they lost 0-3 on aggregate to Suriname’s Robinhood, their main objective was met, as their vision of playing against some of the best clubs in the Concacaf region, has come to fruition.

“It was a big achievement for a Jamaican club. We played in a knockout tournament domestically and got to the finals, we played in the domestic league and got to the finals and so getting to the Caribbean Cup final and qualifying for Champions Cup was another big achievement for us,” Barclett said in a recent interview with Concacaf.com.

“All of the players were deserving, we worked hard for it, the only thing we lacked was winning silverware,” he added.

While most of his Cavalier teammates are from Jamaica, Barclett is one of the team’s full-time international players, as he represents St Lucia on an even bigger stage. Giving his vast experience representing St Lucia in Concacaf Nations League, Barclett is not one to shy away from tough competition and, as such, is now eager to parade his skill in Concacaf’s premier club competition.

“Representing St Lucia on this stage is like a dream come true. I’m still a relatively young player, just 24 years old, I think I’m the only goalkeeper from St Lucia to have played in this tournament. It is a big achievement for me, and I want to show our amateur players back home that they can be on this big stage. I’m excited for the exposure and opportunity,” Barclett shared.

Cavalier’s Round One encounter will be against Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit FC Cincinnati, scheduled for February 22, and Barclett knows a sturdy challenge awaits as their opponents capped the 2023 MLS regular season with the best record.

“The preparation has been going up to standard, we have been putting in the work. In our domestic league in the last six games, we are unbeaten with five wins and one draw, so I think the team has prepared with full conviction. We know it won’t be easy game. We have to be focused in every second of the game, we cannot switch off. Our team has a good chemistry and in preparation for that game we are working very hard,” the agile goaltender said.

With Cavalier boasting so many young players, the 2024 Champions Cup represents the perfect platform on which a group of hungry players can demonstrate their skills to the world. It is also a chance to show everyone the strength of Jamaica’s domestic football.

“I would say this is the biggest moment of my career. I have been in finals, but this will be the biggest game of my career. This is a game that can be an opportunity for many of us. Maybe scouts see us and who knows where that might lead. Representing the Caribbean is a responsibility that we embrace, knowing that we are representing the Jamaican nation, so we will be relying on our fans in the home game,” Barclett ended.

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