In a triumphant display of excellence at the 2024 CIAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the JDL Fast Track, Fayetteville State University's Inez Turner and Claflin University's Melvin Watts emerged as the CIAA Women's Coach of the Year and Men's Coach of the Year, respectively.

The coaches led their teams to repeat victories, with Fayetteville State's women and Claflin's men securing another championship title.

Turner, the iconic Jamaican Olympian and head coach of Fayetteville State University's Women's Track and Field team, expressed her gratitude on Facebook for winning yet another championship. She shared, "It is so very awesome to know that one's labor is not in vain. I am happy that through it all, the victory is won. This marks our 14th championship since my assignment at Fayetteville State University back in the fall of 2017. I am indeed grateful and thankful to our Lord and Savior who has ordained His abundant blessings."

The Fayetteville State University Women's team, also known as the Lady Broncos, clinched their fourth championship in five seasons, tallying 138 points.

Their exceptional performances were highlighted by M'Smyra Seward, named Women's Field Athlete of the Year, who triumphed in the long jump event with a distance of 5.89 meters. Irene Jeptoo and Nia Gibson secured victories in the 1-mile and 3,000 meters, respectively, contributing significantly to the team's success. Winston-Salem State's Hayleigh Bryant earned Women's Track Athlete of the Year honors after winning the 400 meters and the 200 meters.

On the men's side, Claflin University maintained their dominance, securing their second consecutive championship with 131 points. Key contributors included Jonathan Flemister, who won the 200-meter dash, and Chander Anderson, claiming victory in the 400 meters. Zion Murry repeated as the 800-meter champion. Saint Augustine’s Terrell Robinson was named Men's Track Athlete of the Year, showcasing his prowess in the 60-meter event.

The championship victories solidify Turner and Watts' reputations as exceptional coaches, guiding their teams to sustained success. The achievements of the athletes and coaches reflect the dedication, perseverance, and championship mindset that define the spirit of these track and field programs.

 

 

The LSU track and field program has signed South Plains College sprinter Gregory Prince, Head Coach Dennis Shaver announced on Wednesday.

“LSU is surrounded with champions and that’s where I want to be,” said Prince.

The Spanish Town, Jamaica, native will arrive to LSU with plenty of experience at a young age. Prince specializes in the 400 meter and can get it done across 200 meters also. Currently he holds personal-best times of 45.70 seconds in the 400m and 20.92 seconds in the 200m.

At last year’s NJCAA Outdoor Championships he was able to record a collegiate personal-best time of 45.85 seconds to finish sixth. He also helped the 4×100-meter relay team to a third-place finish and a time of 39.76 seconds. Indoors, Prince finished 12th in 2023 at the Championship with a time of 21.40 seconds.

The former St. Jago High School student helped Jamaica to a silver-medal finish last year at the NACAC U23 Championships with a squad time of 3:19.66.

In high school Prince was the 2022 ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships Class One champion across 400m, winning with a time of 45.99 seconds.

At LSU, Prince joins fellow Caribbean athletes Jaiden Reid of the Cayman Islands, Jaden James of Trinidad and Tobago and Jahiem Stern of Jamaica on the school's men's roster.

Three Jamaican female athletes have once again stamped their mark on the prestigious Bowerman Watch List for the week of February 7, 2024. Lamara Distin, Brianna Lyston, and Ackelia Smith have earned well-deserved spots on the coveted list, showcasing their exceptional prowess in the world of collegiate athletics.

The Bowerman Award, presented annually to the most outstanding NCAA male and female athletes in the USA, is a testament to the incredible talent and hard work displayed by these athletes. The recent announcement follows the historic achievement in 2023, where two Caribbean athletes, Jaydon Hibbert and Julien Alfred, claimed the coveted award for the first time ever.

Lyston's inclusion in the list is particularly noteworthy as she joins teammates Alia Armstrong and Michaela Rose, making LSU the eighth program to place at least three athletes on the same Women’s Watch List.

From Portmore, Jamaica, Lyston won the 60m dash at the Razorback Invitational in 7.07 becoming number four all-time on the collegiate list. She has also run 7.14 in a 60m prelim as well as 23.16 in the 200. Lyston is the 12th athlete in LSU women’s history to be named to the Watch List.

Distin, representing Texas A&M, returns to the Watch List after an impressive high jump clearance of 1.94m at the Ted Nelson Invitational. With a personal record of 1.97m indoors, Distin aims to secure her third consecutive NCAA DI Indoor crown, adding to her already illustrious career. Her PR of 1.97m indoors puts her number three all-time. This is her eighth career Watch List appearance.

Smith, hailing from Clarendon, Jamaica, has showcased her versatility by dominating the long jump event so far this season. With a series of impressive leaps, including a 6.85m victory at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic, Smith is making her mark as a force to be reckoned with in collegiate track and field.

Last year’s NCAA DI Outdoor long jump champion, Smith is number two all-time collegiately at 7.08m and also has chops in the triple jump – an event she hasn’t contested this year but rates No. 3 all-time outdoors 14.54m and No. 5 indoors (14.29m. This is her fourth career Watch List appearance.

 The next Bowerman Watch List will be announced on February 28.

SEC honours were awarded to a pair of Razorbacks this week with Romaine Beckford named Field Athlete of the Week while John Kendricks earned Freshman of the Week.

Beckford set an indoor best of 2.27m in winning the high jump at the Razorback Invitational prior to attempt the Olympic qualifying standard of 2.33m. Beckford is the current collegiate leader and his mark ranks equal sixth in the world for the 2024 season.

The performance by Beckford, the defending 2023 NCAA indoor & outdoor champion, moved him to No. 4 on the Arkansas all-time list and No. 3 on the Jamaican all-time indoor list with the equal No. 4 performance. Germaine Mason holds the Jamaican indoor record of 2.30m, which was set in 2003 and Christoff Bryan ranks second with a 2.28m from 2015.

Having spent most of her freshman season at Louisiana State University (LSU) adapting to a new program and overcoming physical challenges, Jamaica’s Brianna Lyston is ready to showcase her immense talents while eyeing the challenge of a sprint-double campaign at her country’s national championships in June.

According to LSU Head Track and Field Coach Dennis Shaver, the plan for the 19-year-old former Hydel High School star is to attempt making Jamaica’s team for the Olympic Games in Paris in both the 100m and 200m races.

Lyston gave an indication of her early readiness to be competitive this season when she ran a fast 7.07 to win the 60m dash at the Razorback Invitational last weekend. The time tied Aleia Hobbs’ school record and is the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.

Intriguingly, Coach Shaver revealed that the fast time was not really a surprise given how well Lyston had been training leading up to the meet but hinted that she could have gone even faster.

“Well, it's hard to predict what she would run. But I did know that when we're doing starts in training and so forth for 30, 40 or 50 meters, she was executing quite well in training, but it's always hard in the 60 to predict what their actual finish time is going to be. But I knew that, just based on what some of our other athletes that she trains with, what they were running, I had a pretty good idea that she was going to run in the 60 m this last week.

“And that's why we entered her always because we felt like, in communicating with her, we both felt that she was ready to execute the race well. And so I was proud of her. She just ran, I think, 14 (7.14) in the prelims and felt really easy. And I said, well, when you get in the final now, don't try to run real fast, just try to execute, and I think that's what she did.”

This early indicator, Coach Shaver believes, is why Lyston – all things being equal - will be in the mix when she goes up against her more experienced compatriots at the Jamaica national championships come June.

“She's going to be ready, and she's going to be able to run at the Jamaican trials and try to make the Olympic team. That's just one of the goals now. If we don't make it, it's not the end of the world. She's so young, but the reality of it is that I think the experience of her running in under 20s was a real positive thing,” Coach Shaver said of the 2022 World U20 200m champion.

“And so I think, the younger you are to make an Olympic team and be able to perform at Olympic level, it is one more year of experience you have for the next time that rolls around.”

Coach Shaver explained that even though Lyston is known more for her prowess over 200m, he is not ruling out her aiming for a spot on Jamaica’s 100m team to Paris as well.

“I wouldn't eliminate the 100 meters from the possibility either. And I know there are some great Jamaican 100m people, but I think she can be in that mix too, just based on that 7.07.”

The journey to this point has not been easy for Lyston, who has had a history of physical challenges during her high school career. That was pretty much the case when she arrived at LSU for her freshman year, Coach Shaver revealed.

 During her freshman year indoors, Lyston ran two 60m dashes peaking at 7.29 as well as a single 200m in which she ran 23.54 in New Mexico. Outdoors, she raced over 200m four times. She also ran in seven 4x100m relays and a single 4x400m relay.

Coach Shaver explained the reason behind why she ran such a limited number of races.

“Most people that know me know that I'm pretty patient. When I don't feel like somebody's really prepared to perform at an adequate level just based on training, I just don't race them. So last year I just felt like it was a big transition for Brianna. But I think that as we went through the year with her, she adapted more and more to what we were asking her to do. And I think she's just grown from there,” he said.

“She had a really good fall, this fall of training, and I think that led to what happened this (past) weekend. I just didn't feel like until now I really had her prepared to perform well and be able to do it safely and not injure herself.”

Injuries were something that the LSU coaching staff had to help the now bigger and stronger Lyston overcome during that difficult freshman year.

“There were things that we do in training that she did some things really good, but she didn't do everything really good. So until she got and adapted and started adapting to the training and then, of course, I just think this year there's a lot more focus more confidence, which is obviously very important and it's a tribute to her and believing in what we do and working within those parameters that we're asking her to do,” Coach Shaver said.

“I think also we've got an excellent medical staff that diagnosed things that needed to be worked on. It's just taking this long before I really feel like collectively we had her prepared to run fast and stay healthy.”

For her standout performance on the weekend, Lyston was named USTFCCCA Female Athlete of the Week.

 

Louisiana State University (LSU) Sophomore Brianna Lyston has been named by the US Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as its National Athlete of the Week for January 30, 2024.

Lyston lined up alongside Kaila Jackson and Jadyn Mays for the final of the 60 meters at the Razorback Invitational this past weekend.

Jackson and Mays were both tied at No. 4 on the all-time collegiate chart in the event with their 7.07 efforts from the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships last year in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Well, Jackson and Mays have company at No. 4 after Lyston blew the doors off the competition.

Lyston ripped the straightaway in 7.07 for the second-fastest season debut in collegiate history behind 2023 The Bowerman winner Julien Alfred’s 7.02 one year ago. The LSU standout won the final by 0.13 seconds and lowered her PR by a whopping 0.22 seconds over the course of the day.

This is the second week in a row that a female athlete from LSU has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week. Michaela Rose previously earned national weekly honors after a collegiate record-setting jaunt over 600 yards.

On the eve of her special recognition at the Queens/Grace Jackson Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica, two-time world champion Danielle Williams showcased her prowess on the track at the Clemson Bob Pollock Invitational in the United States.

With her eyes set on making her first Olympic team later in the year, Williams took to the indoor track Friday evening and delivered an impressive performance in the 60m hurdles race. The two-time 100m hurdles world champion clocked a swift 7.89, securing the top spot and leaving her competition in the dust.

Clemson sophomore Oneka Wilson gave a commendable effort, running a season-best 8.09 to claim the second position. Chastity Pickett of Campbell finished third in 8.26, also marking a season's best for her.

For Williams, this was her only indoor meet of the season, signaling her transition to focus on the upcoming outdoor campaign. The victory not only added another triumph to her illustrious career but also served as a promising start to what could be a remarkable year for the Jamaican athlete.

 

A day later, in Kingston, Jamaica, the anticipation for Danielle Williams' recognition at the Queens/Grace Jackson Invitational reached its peak. The organizers honored her with a plaque, presented to her sister Velta Cole. The plaque chronicled Danielle's history, studies, and accomplishments, serving as a source of inspiration for the students at Queens High School, where Williams had been a past student.

Aneeke Brown, Chairperson of the meet organizer, shared the significance of the plaque, saying, “We presented it to her sister, a plaque chronicling Danielle’s history, her studies, and her accomplishments. One will go into the Queen’s School library so that the girls can see and aspire and be motivated, another will be sent to Danielle.”

Vice Principal of The Queen's School Mrs Trudi Morrison-Reid also participated in the presentation.

Williams was not the only Jamaican on the podium in South Carolina on Friday.

LaFranz Campbell was third in the men’s 60m hurdles. He ran a season’s best 7.65 in the race won by Dylan Beard who ran a fast 7.54 but just managed to hold off Cameron Murray, who clocked 7.55.

 

Louisiana State University (LSU) Sophomore Brianna Lyston gave fans a signal of what is to come from her this season with a personal best and collegiate leading 7.07 to win the women’s 60m at the Razorback Invitational at the Tyson Center in Fayetteville on Saturday.

The 19-year-old, who entered the meet with a personal best of 7.29 done last season, first produced an easy 7.14 in qualifying before returning to run her new personal best in the final to win comfortably ahead of Georgia’s Kaila Jackson (7.20) and Florida’s Grace Stark (7.21).

Lyston’s time is the third-fastest in the world this year, fourth-fastest in collegiate history and equals the LSU school record done back in 2018 by Aleia Hobbs.

The men's equivalent saw USC's Travis Williams run 6.63 for third behind LSU's Myles Thomas (6.62) and USC's JC Stevenson (6.61).

Jamaican World Championship 4x400m relay medallist Stacey Ann Williams ran 51.86 to win the women’s open 400m ahead of Americans Kendall Ellis (52.12) and Bailey Lear (52.49). World Championships 400m hurdles finalist Andrenette Knight ran 52.53 for fifth.

Arkansas Junior and reigning Jamaican National champion Nickisha Pryce ran 51.58 for third in the college women’s 400m behind schoolmate Amber Anning (50.56) and Georgia’s Aaliyah Butler (51.34).

Pryce was a semi-finalist in the 400m at the World Championships in Budapest last August.

Florida Senior Jevaughn Powell ran 46.28 for third in the college men’s 400m behind USC’s William Jones (45.24) and Texas A&M’s Auhmad Robinson (46.15).

2023 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion and World Championship 100m hurdles finalist Ackera Nugent ran 7.94 for second in the women’s open 60m hurdles won by the USA’s Tia Jones in 7.85. Christina Clemons ran 7.95 for third.

Jamaica’s Phillip Lemonious, who won the NCAA Outdoor title competing for the University of Arkansas last season, ran 7.68 for third in the men’s 60m hurdles. Interestingly, the top two finishers in the race, Texas A&M’s Connor Schulman and Jaqualon Scott, also ran 7.68. Their times when rounded up to the thousandths were 7.672, 7.673 and 7.675.

St. Vincent's Shafiqua Maloney ran 2:02.29 to take top spot in the women's 800m ahead of Sanu Jallow of Arkansas (2:02.60) and Gabija Galvydyte (2:02.82).

In the field, Arkansas high jumper Romaine Beckford, the defending NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion, improved his indoor career best to 2.27m with his victory on Friday evening.

The winning height moves Beckford to No. 4 on the UA all-time list and No. 3 on the Jamaican all-time indoor list with the equal No. 4 performance.

Having won the competition, Beckford opted for the Olympic standard of 2.33m as his next height and had three attempts with his last try coming closest to clearing.

Mississippi State’s Sherman Hawkins and USC’s Elias Gerald both cleared 2.17m for second and third, respectively.

Elsewhere in the field, Jamaican Oklahoma Junior Nikaoli Williams produced 7.86m for second in the men’s long jump behind Florida’s Malcolm Clemons (8.06m). Clemons’ teammate Caleb Foster jumped 7.68m for third.

 

 

In a strategic move fueled by the desire for fresh challenges and a lack of competitive challenges at the collegiate level, Jamaican triple jumper Jaydon Hibbert has secured a significant long-term contract with Puma. As was first reported by Sportsmax.TV late Thursday (25), the 19-year-old sensation, who enjoyed a remarkable freshman year at the University of Arkansas, has chosen to embark on a professional journey while continuing his studies at the esteemed institution.

Henry Rolle, the principal at Preeminence Sports Group and Hibbert's agent, shed light on the decision-making process, emphasizing the athlete's motivation to seek new horizons after achieving unparalleled success at the collegiate level. Hibbert's undefeated streak in both indoor and outdoor competitions during his freshman year highlighted his dominance, prompting a thoughtful evaluation of his next steps.

Hibbert set a World U20 record of 17.54m to win the NCAA Indoor title. He won the outdoor title with a world-leading 17.87m, an NCAA record and World U20 record. Just 18, he capped his incredible season by winning the coveted Bowerman Award in December 2023, becoming the first freshman, the youngest ever collegiate athlete and the first Jamaican to claim the award it’s 25-year history.

Rolle provided key insights into Hibbert's decision, stating, "There was really nothing to motivate him competing at the collegiate level, and he discussed it with his coach and his parents, and, of course, he had that NIL with Puma." Rolle emphasized that the decision was entirely driven by Hibbert's quest for greater challenges and personal growth.

The long-term contract with Puma signifies a crucial milestone for Hibbert's professional aspirations. Despite the transition to a professional career, the Jamaican triple jumper remains committed to completing his education at the University of Arkansas, showcasing a balanced approach to athletic and academic pursuits.

Reflecting on the financial feasibility and the athlete's personal goals, Rolle remarked, "It is a long-term deal that makes it feasible for him to complete his education." This strategic approach ensures that Hibbert can continue his studies while receiving the support and sponsorship necessary for his professional development.

Hibbert's decision to sign with Puma and embrace professionalism was made apparent in a heartfelt message shared on his Instagram page. In the post, he expressed gratitude to the University of Arkansas for its pivotal role in shaping him as both an athlete and an individual. The Razorback spirit instilled during his collegiate journey will accompany him into the professional realm.

“University of Arkansas you have been more than just a school to me. You have been a family. To all my coaches, teammates and professors, you’ve shaped me into the athlete and the person I am today. You’ve instilled in me the Razorback spirit which I will carry with me on my professional journey,” he posted on Instagram.

 “This journey has been filled with unforgettable moments, victories and lessons that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The roar of the crowd at every track meet, the camaraderie, the grind, the triumphs and even the injuries…each has carved a piece and my heart and soul.

“As I say goodbye to my NCAA eligibility and step into my professional career, I do so with a heart full of gratitude. I am not leaving behind the Razorback family; I am taking it with me.”

Hibbert will not compete indoors but will likely participate at a few outdoor collegiate meets in Arkansas and the wider USA before deciding which competitions including Diamond League meets he will be take part in prior to the Jamaica national championships and the Olympics in Paris in July, Rolle said.

 

 

 

 

St. Lucian Lewis University sprinter Tyler Toussaint opened his 2024 season with a 60m win at the Notre Dame Invitational on Saturday.

The 22-year-old was the fastest man in the preliminaries with 6.90 before producing 6.86 to win the final ahead of DePaul’s Dominic Cole (6.91) and Eastern Illinois’s Cameron Yarbrough (6.92).

Toussaint finished third in the 100m at the St. Lucian Championships in 10.76 last year. His personal best 10.65 was done in the semi-finals of those championships.

Toussaint’s schoolmate, Barbadian Khristel Martindale, ran 7.63 for second in the women’s 60m which was won by Notre Dame’s Michelle Quinn in 7.57. Another Lewis University sprinter Rose Ogbuli was third in 7.68.

Martindale was a finalist in both the 100m and 200m at the 2023 Carifta Games in Nassau, finishing sixth in the 100m in 11.97 and fourth in the 200m in 24.25.

 

In a training session that is sending ripples through the track and field community, NCAA triple jump champion Jaydon Hibbert, who recently turned 19, displayed remarkable progress by shattering his previous standing triple jump best mark. Coach Travis Geopfert confirmed that Hibbert leaped out to an impressive 10.87m, a significant improvement from his earlier mark of 10.34m set just last year during his freshman year at the University of Arkansas. (See video below)

The half-metre enhancement in his standing triple jump could be a foreshadowing of greater achievements for the Jamaican athlete in this crucial Olympic year. With his world-leading and personal best mark standing at 17.87m, the question looms whether this remarkable training feat could indicate a trend toward surpassing his own records and possibly Johnathan Edwards' world record of 18.29m.

The year 2023 marked a milestone for Hibbert, securing NCAA Indoor and Outdoor titles with record-breaking jumps of 17.54m and 17.87m, respectively—both ratified as World U20 records. Despite these triumphs, his World Athletics Championships campaign in Budapest was marred by a hamstring injury during the final, cutting his participation short after an impressive preliminary round performance.

Capping off an outstanding year, Hibbert clinched the prestigious Bowerman Award in December, becoming the first Jamaican and the youngest collegiate athlete ever to receive this accolade.

While the Jamaican athlete's recent training feat raises expectations for the upcoming season, Coach Travis Geopfert remains cautious about making predictions. Geopfert acknowledged Hibbert's improvement, stating, “It's almost, I think exactly half-a-metre farther... I think it's a direct correlation to his power more than anything else."

Geopfert emphasized Hibbert's commitment to strength training, noting a substantial increase in his performance, revealing that the Razorback sophomore has added 30lbs to his power clean. However, he remained guarded about predicting specific improvements in Hibbert's full jump, stating, "As far as how it equates to the full jump, it's all relative. Being stronger with the same body weight as last year and he's faster, those are two those are two positive things (but) to give you an exact indicator of how much farther you can jump, that, I don't know.”

The coach hinted at the possibility of surpassing last season's 17.87m personal best but underscored the team's strategic approach to Hibbert's training this year. "He's in better shape than last year, but we're also taking things a little bit slower, putting a little bit more emphasis on strength a little bit longer into the season because last year ended late. So we gave him a rest and started a little bit later this year."

As Jaydon Hibbert prepares for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, the athletics world eagerly anticipates whether this training benchmark is a precursor to more record-breaking feats in the triple jump arena.

Reigning National high jump champion Romaine Beckford was victorious in his first meet as an Arkansas Razorback.

The former South Plains College and University of South Florida standout was locked in a tense battle with teammate Kason O’Riley before eventually winning the event with a 2.19m clearance on a short, four-step approach. 

Beckford trailed teammate Kason O’Riley when both cleared 2.16m, as O’Riley navigated the previous height of 2.11m on a first attempt while Beckford needed three tries before clearing. 

A third attempt clearance at 2.19m earned Beckford the victory as three missed attempts at 2.22m followed.

Beckford then saluted the encouraging crowd of 1,418 with his signature backflip on the high jump mat. 

Following the 1-2 Arkansas finish in the high jump, Razorback Tomas Ferrari placed fifth with a 6-7 (2.01) clearance.

Beckford won last year’s NCAA Outdoor title with a 2.27m clearance while competing for USF.

He then won the National title with 2.23m and the NACAC U-23 title with 2.21m.

The 21-year-old also competed at the World Championships in Budapest, finishing 11th in his qualifying group with a best clearance of 2.22m.

 

 

Former Jamaican hurdler Danny McFarlane has been appointed as sprints and hurdles coach as Southern Nazarene University.

“Well, let’s see how good of a coach I am,” McFarlane said in a post on Facebook reacting to the news.

“I’m ready for this challenge. Jamaica big up!” he added.

McFarlane competed for the University of Oklahoma before embarking on a professional career that lasted for 15 years.

He took silver in the 400m hurdles at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and another silver medal in the 4x400m relay four years later in Beijing.

McFarlane is also a five-time World Championship silver medallist, a World Indoor champion and a two-time World Indoor bronze medallist.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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