There is no doubt that the journey to athletic excellence is a path often fraught with challenges, but for Bryan Levell, the hurdles he faced in his final year at Edwin Allen High School only served to strengthen his resolve.

Though frustrated that a troublesome hamstring strain kept him off the track for much of that season, Levell used the time to focus on rehabilitation and conditioning, and his patience and perseverance paid off, as he made a remarkable comeback at the JAAA National Senior Championships recently.

Not only did Levell break the 10-second barrier in the men’s 100m when he clocked a new personal best 9.98s in semis, he also went sub-20 seconds over the 200m to claim his first national title in another lifetime best of 19.97s at the National Stadium.

But beyond all that is the fact that the 20-year-old, as a first-year professional, defied the odds and secured a spot on Jamaica’s team for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.

Levell eases across the line ahead of Andrew Hudson in the men's 200m final.

“It’s a great feeling. Representing Jamaica at the Olympics has always been my dream, and to achieve it in my first year in the professional ranks is beyond words, but I believe it is a testament to my hard work, dedication, and passion to go as far as I can in athletics,” Levell told Sportsmax.TV.

“Last year I was out for a couple of months due to a hamstring injury so I couldn’t get to participate in my final year at Boys’ and Girls’ Champs, which was incredibly frustrating, but thanks to God and my coach Shanikie Osbourne I am now healthy and stronger this year. It wasn’t easy, but we fought through the challenges, put in the work in training and we got it done,” he added.

Despite the physical and emotional toll of persistent injuries, which threatened to derail his transition to the professional level, Levell refused to throw in the proverbial towel.

Instead, the decorated Champs, Carifta, and Under-20 World Championship medalist, worked tirelessly with coach Osbourne to get through what he said is the toughest period of his athletic life to date.

“Honestly, I was demotivated a lot of times, especially when the injuries occurred, but I always kept the bigger picture in mind and encouraged myself that it wasn’t the end and I still had time because I was young. So at times, I was more focused on the comeback as opposed to the situation, and my family and coach were also pillars of strength,” Levell shared.

“I also knew the transition would be tough and would require a lot more work, but I was determined and ready to give it everything, and I was surrounded by a great support system, and that made all the difference,” he noted.

Levell in full flight during the 200m semis.

While looking ahead to the Paris Games, Levell also reflected on the lessons learnt along the way, as he stands ready to embrace the challenges to come with the same level of determination and focus on his goals.

“I would say it was all a big lesson for me to trust the process, be patient and never to give up. So I am working on both my mental and physical preparation for Paris, obviously it will be my first time on the world’s biggest stage and I want to do well…I want to continue improving and make my mark on the sport,” Levell declared.

“So my aim is just to focus on my lane in Paris, execute as best as I can and then take it from there. There’s a lot more I want to achieve so I just want to stay healthy, continue to put in the work and just be the best version of myself,” the soft-spoken athlete ended.

As she resumes her preparation to defend her Olympic titles at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Elaine Thompson-Herah will be guided by Reynaldo Walcott at Elite Performance Track Club. The announcement was made the double-double Olympic champion’s agents Andi Sports Management on Monday.

Thompson-Herah, who recently separated from interim coach Shanikie Osbourne is a contentious parting of ways, will once again be in the same training group as two-time Olympic 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman alive courtesy of her 10.54s 100m win at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon in August 2021, expressed gratitude to her many supporters, who stood by her during her recent much-publicized departure from Osbourne’s group.

According to the statement released by her agent, Ms Thompson-Herah remains as “dedicated as ever to her craft, demonstrating an unequivocal focus on the path ahead. Her commitment to excellence is unwavering and she is resolute in her pursuit of the double Olympic titles she so triumphantly earned.”

 Shanikie Osbourne, the coach at the centre of the dispute with Olympic champion Elaine Thompson Herah's management, strongly refuted statements made by the management regarding her compensation for preparing Thompson Herah for the Olympics in Paris. In a detailed account, Osbourne denied asking for unreasonable levels of compensation and emphasized that she was open to negotiation.

Osbourne was hired in July following Thompson-Herah’s poor performance at the Jamaica national championships where she finished fifth in the 100m finals in 11.06s. The coach’s impact was almost immediate with the five-time Olympic gold medalist producing five consecutive season-bests – 11.00, 10.92, 10.84 and 10.79 for a third-place finish in the season-ending Diamond League final in Eugene, Oregon.

Things seemed to be going well up late September or early October when negotiations began for a new longer-term arrangement between Thompson-Herah and the coach, who helped her resurrect her 2023 season.

However, on Wednesday, Thompson-Herah’s agents Andi Sports Management released a statement informing about the end of the relationship between the athlete and Coach Osbourne.

“The professional separation came about due to a breakdown in negotiations on a compensation package for the services that would be provided by Coach Osbourne,” the agent asserted in the statement. “The package proposed by the former coach, by any measure of what is the norm for such services, was extremely excessive and without any flexibility to negotiate by the other party. Collectively, we had no choice but to seek the services of another coach.”

“What Marvin (Andi Sports Management) put out saying we gave them no room to negotiate is a big lie!” said Osbourne, who spoke with Sportsmax.TV.

Osbourne revealed that the problem started when Thompson-Herah’s husband sent her what she described as a ‘garbage contract’, which she rejected. Elaine then reached out to her in a series of messages and voice notes after which they agreed to sit down for a meeting.

"At the end of her message for a meeting, I said to her, I've read her messages and asked her what time would be available for the meeting, and so I'll meet with her." During the meeting, Osbourne brought up the 15 per cent, and Thompson-Herah did not express an inability to afford it.

“I approached her with the same 15 per cent. She did not say she cannot afford the 15 per cent. She said to me, ‘Okay, since I have all my equipment, I have a gym, I have my equipment and everything, do I still have to say for the 15 percent?’”

“I remember her standing up and she said to me, ‘Okay, you said 15 per cent and that's it.’ And I said yes, that's it and she said ‘okay’ and the meeting finished.

 

Osbourne said she came away from the meeting with the understanding that Thompson-Herah was agreeing with what she was asking. However, just over a week later, the athlete’s husband Derron Herah contacted her.

“I thought everything was okay, Deron messaged me saying we need to sort this out,’ which she said left her perplexed. “I asked him what we needed to sort out and he said we need to sort out payment.

“He asked for a meeting and we met and he came with the same sort of foolishness and I maintained my 15 per cent. I am not charging more than that.”

 During the meeting, Deron Herah repeatedly asked her to provide a figure. "All he's saying to me right is give me a figure. Give me a figure that I’m comfortable with. He can’t make those kinds of contracts with a percentage on it because that will cause them to breach their contract with PUMA.”

She expressed frustration, stating that she didn't need to know the details of Elaine’s contract, only that a fair and honest calculation of her percentage be made.

“I am just asking for a percentage. I explained to them, I do not need to know Elaine’s contract, that is not my concern. What I want is when pay time comes and I go in my account I must see that I get paid. I am not going to sit down and calculate anything.

“All I said to him and I said it to Elaine too, is just be fair, calculate the percentage and pay me, that’s all.”

 

During the national championships in July, it was an acquaintance of the Herahs, Damia Russell, who approached Osbourne about coaching Elaine as he was disappointed with her performance at the national championships. Given the impasse, he attempted to mediate.

Russell, is an assistant track and field coach at the University of New Mexico Highlands and was once a compliance officer at MVP Track Club during 2017-2018 season and for seven years’ prior, was the manager of the University of Technology Men and Women Track and Field teams.

“He normally guides Elaine, he went and spoke to the husband and then he took me to him,” Osbourne said explaining that she decided to leave the negotiations to him to see if they could arrive be a mutually acceptable agreement.

Russell, Osbourne disclosed, said he would assist and even suggested that since the Herahs were fearful of breaching the terms of Elaine’s contract, they could simply have Osbourne sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Russell declined to comment without first speaking to Osbourne when Sportsmax.TV reached out to him on Thursday.

According to Osbourne, Russell spoke with Deron and listened to his concerns and then decided to send Elaine’s husband a figure. “He said to me, what he is going to do is do a calculation of what he believes he would negotiate for Elaine. He did that and sent the figure to him and Deron started to curse and said they were trying to extort him.”

She said she didn’t expect Herah’s reaction. “You ask for a figure and you get a figure, you negotiate, you don’t cuss and quarrel and talk about extortion. So you come and we say ‘X’ and you can’t pay ‘X’ then you pay ‘X’-1, that’s how it should go.”

The coach then discussed her decision to withdraw her services temporarily, stating, "I sent a message to Elaine and said,’ Listen, I have to withdraw my service until this is sorted out."

As it turns out, the athlete and her management decided to end the relationship.

Elaine Thompson-Herah’s management has confirmed the separation of the athlete and her coach Shanikie Osbourne after a breakdown in negotiations over compensation. The double-double Olympic champion’s management, Andi Sports Management, made the confirmation in a statement released late Wednesday that also revealed that the search for a new coach is currently underway.

Thompson-Herah, who won the 100m/200m double at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Tokyo Olympics, struggled in 2023 failing to earn an individual spot on Jamaica’s team to the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.

During the championships she brought Osbourne onto her coaching staff and the impact was almost immediate with the 30-year-sprinter who ran 11.06 at the Jamaica national championships, running times of 11.00, 10.92, 10.84 and 10.79 to end the season on a high.

It is against that background that when the situation became public earlier this week, it came as a surprise to many. However, there was no official confirmation. That came on Wednesday.

“Five-time Olympic Games Gold Medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah and her temporary coach has parted ways,” the statement began. “The professional separation came about due to a breakdown in negotiations on a compensation package for the services that would be provided by Coach Osbourne.”

According to the athlete’s management, the package proposed by Osbourne was “by any measure of what is the norm for such services, was extremely excessive and without any flexibility to negotiate by the other party.

“Collectively, we had no choice but to seek the services of another coach.”

Thompson-Herah’s management acknowledged the progress made with Osbourne and thanked her for her contribution.

“Mrs. Elaine Thompson-Herah benefitted from the services of Coach Osbourne, especially towards the end of the 2023 athletic season and for that Mrs. Thompson-Herah is grateful and would like to express her thanks for her impact in a very short space of time,” the statement read.

“With the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, fast approaching, Mrs. Thompson-Herah is fully focused on her preparations for the season and the defense of her Olympic titles. In this regard, we have undertaken a process to procure the services of a coach who would be able to ensure the high standards of Mrs. Thompson-Herah are exceeded and her goals for the 2024 outdoor athletic season are met.

“Once our search is complete and a final decision is made we will once again use this medium to officially notify the fans, followers, supporters and the general public. Rest assured that the best interest of Mrs. Elaine Thompson-Herah supersedes all other concerns and all decisions will be made to fortify her legacy as one of the World’s premier female athletes.”

In a bid to get back to her best, double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah is now taking coaching orders from former MVP coach Shanikie Osbourne.

According to a Radio Jamaica report, Thompson-Herah, who has been a shadow of her usual competitive self in recent times, engaged the temporary arrangement with Osbourne, after the National Senior Championships in July, where she missed an individual lane for the upcoming World Athletic Championships.

However, she finished well enough to make the team to Budapest, Hungary, as part of the relay pool.

While the move may come as a surprise to many, Osbourne, who previously coached Papine High, explained that it is basically a continuation of what transpired during Thompson-Herah’s time at MVP.

“I have been working with her since we have been at MVP, so it’s similar stuff; so, I’m just working with her for now. Not sure if it is going to be permanent, but just working with her for now,” said Osbourne during the Radio Jamaica interview.

The coach pointed out that where the relationship goes after the World Championships is left solely up to Thompson-Herah, 31, who previously took orders from world renowned coach Stephen Francis before switching coaching duties to her husband Derron Herah in 2021.

“It’s according to her, probably she’s trying to see how things work out to the end of the season and then she’ll make a decision, but it’s up to her,” Osbourne shared.

Holy Thursday was an extra special day for Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Candice McLeod, who was presented with the University of the West Indies Premier Award for Sports at the university's Mona campus

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