Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

It is hard not to be impressed by the sheer willpower and determination of Jamaica’s diving flagbearer Yona Knight-Wisdom.

While it is not surprising, as Olympians are often seen as the epitome of human performance given their incredible physical and mental strength, the manner in which Knight-Wisdom conducts himself is so businesslike that his financial challenges pale in comparison to his performances.

Despite having very little financial backing since he rose to prominence as Jamaica’s first-ever male diver to compete at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Knight-wisdom has never lost hope and continues to establish himself on the global stage.

But while his ambition and immense ability shines through like the noonday sun, Knight-Wisdom is once again left contemplating his future in the sport, as he believes the hard work and sacrifice that goes into a thriving career means very little without the necessary funding.

This, as the task of achieving the Olympic dream requires financial accessibility, which Knight-Wisdom seldom has, as he sometimes struggles to make ends meet where preparation for, and getting into competitions are concerned.

It is for this reason why the talented diver, who recently qualified to represent Jamaica at a third-consecutive Olympic Games, might not push for a fourth, as the sport has been cruel in returning dividends on his spend.

“There are many factors that I will have to take into consideration when looking at the future. I think my body would be able to cope with another four years because I’m very professional and committed to doing things in the right way,” he declared.

“The main question for me is value. Of course, it would be amazing to chase a fourth Olympic Games, but there isn’t much money in diving, it takes a lot of personal and financial sacrifice, and I need to figure out if there is enough value in it,” Knight-Wisdom told SportsMax.TV from his base in the United Kingdom.

Though Knight-Wisdom’s hardship isn’t unique, as many athletes look for ways to make ends meet while training, it is the grace and faith that the English-born diver, whose mother is Barbadian and father Jamaican, exudes as he represents the country with much gusto that stands out.

Like his admirers, Knight-Wisdom continues to bask in the fact that he will again represent the country at a third consecutive Olympic Games, as he recently secured an automatic quota spot to this summer’s Paris Olympics Games.

Unlike Rio in 2016 and Tokyo 2020, this qualification struck an emotional chord for Knight-Wisdom, whose progress was derailed by ruptured rectus femoris tendons in his left knee late in 2022, which required surgery and months of rehabilitation for recovery.

“Yes, the emotion certainly caught me briefly after the preliminary round. Competing against 70 other divers and doing a dive every 50 minutes or so was a major mental battle…when you know you can’t afford to make a big mistake with each dive, 50 minutes is a lot of time for your brain to play tricks on you,” Knight-Wisdom shared.

“The hard work I put in before my injury and the motivation to recover and get ready for 2024 meant that I was feeling good and confident coming into this event, so I’m grateful and relieved it has resulted in a positive outcome,” he added.

That confidence stemmed from the fact that Knight-Wisdom sets appropriate goals, which helps to track his progress and provides feedback about the areas of his dives that need to be strengthened.

Add to that the fact that he holds strict expectations which does not allow for areas of his dives to be weak, thereby ensuring that he gives a capital effort on each occasion.

Still, the results were not always what he expected along the way.

But given his unwavering commitment and determination to reap success for the black, green and gold, Knight-Wisdom kept plugging away at training knowing very well that it takes flawless routines to turn his fortunes around.

The 28-year-old has shown in the past that he possesses enough ability to rise to the occasion when it matters most, and that he did at the World Aquatics Championships, where he ended with a semi-final score of 368.95.

“My performances were actually a little lower than I was hoping for, though that is because I anticipated the qualification standard would be a little higher than it was in the end. My dives were good and solid throughout, with only one major mistake in the semi-final, but they all need to be refined and improved to attract even higher scores from the judges when I do them well. But overall, my performances were similar to how my training has been, so I have no complaints,” Knight-Wisdom said.

“This time round I think I was more expectant that I would qualify, even considering the injury. It definitely wasn’t a certainty, but I wasn’t relying on hope and belief as much as I was for Rio or Tokyo. I feel like I’ve done what most people, including myself, thought I would do. I don’t think many people will be shocked or surprised that I have qualified this time so it did sink in very quickly and I was straight to thinking how I can get better,” he reasoned.

That said, the lanky six-foot tall diver declared his intentions to possibly spring a surprise in Paris, provided he maintains a clean bill of health to improve on his current vein of form.

“I’d love to put myself in a position to produce a shocking result in the summer. I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” he stated.

“This (qualification) was another stepping stone on my journey back to peak performance, a potential obstacle successfully negotiated, so I will just continue working on improving the finer details of my dives and on more consistent execution. My confidence will continue to build going forward which will be displayed in my dives,” Knight-Wisdom ended.

Dunbeholden Football Club’s recent signings have added a new dimension to Lenworth “Teacha” Hyde’s squad and are pushing teammates to reach a higher level, as the St Catherine-based team continued its Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL) playoff hunt with a 3-0 win over Harbour View, on Monday.

Dwight Merrick (35th), on loan from Mount Pleasant FA, and Rojay Smith (89th), who signed from Harbour View in January, joined Carlington Blackwood (72nd) on the score sheet, as Dunbeholden outshone the “Stars of the East”, at Stadium East field.

They have now won three games on the trot in a five-match unbeaten run and are now sixth on 33 points, three ahead of closest rival Waterhouse FC (30 points). Mount Pleasant (46 points), Cavalier (44 points), Tivoli Gardens (41 points), Portmore United (41 points) and Arnett Gardens (38 points), occupy the other playoff positions.

Dunbeholden’s assistant coach Ricardo Smith, was delighted by the team’s dominant display and current vein of form heading into the business end of the season.

“I am very impressed by the win, especially with the clean sheet. The performance was so good that I can't pick out a player to say they didn’t play well. Everybody had a good game and the fact that we are back in a playoff position is an even bigger positive,” Smith said.

After going down 0-2 to Harbour View earlier in the season, Dunbeholden were mindful not to suffer another defeat in a similar manner and that might have resulted in their cagey start.

However, once they found rhythm, it was only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock, which they eventually did when Merrick drove a firm left-footer from about 20 yards out pass Trinidad and Tobago-born custodian Glenroy Samuels, at his near post.

With Merrick’s second goal of the season proving the difference at the end of the first half, Harbour View showed more purpose at the top of the second half, and enjoyed a good passage of play in which they used the right channel well to provide service inside the box, but failed to get on target.

In fact, of the four shots that Harbour View got off throughout the entire game, none was on target, and that all but explains why they succumbed to a fourth-consecutive defeat.

Dunbeholden doubled their lead in the 72nd minute courtesy of a tidy team build-up, which comprised 16 passes, very much reflective of a typical Lenworth Hyde-coached team. That series of ball movement opened up Harbour View’s defence and Donovan Segree played a perfect final pass through to Blackwood, who applied an excellent finish.

They almost had a third three minutes later when Segree found space at the top of the 18-yard box for a left-footed effort, which was tipped over by Samuels.

But with Harbour View offering very little in attack, Dunbeholden applied consistent pressure and inevitably gifted another. Samuels gave up possession to substitute Brian Burkett, who played a pass across goal for Smith to tap in, and put Harbour View, who were celebrating the club's 50th anniversary, out of their misery.

Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard was again left disappointed by his team’s sub-par display, which all but sums up why they are currently in 11th position on 19 points.

“It was a non-performance from us, and we only have ourselves to blame. I mean, when I look at the three goals, it's really a crying shame,” Bernard lamented.

“I don't want to come with a blame game over the air, it is something we have to deal with internally, but clearly someone has to answer to the goals. It really costs us, especially at a critical point in the game when we're just getting on top of the game and getting ready to come back in the game and you concede a goal like that…its Unthinkable,” he added.

Matchweek 21 Results

Lime Hall 1, Molynes United 2

Portmore United 1, Montego Bay United 1

Treasure Beach 0, Tivoli Gardens 5

Vere United 0, Arnett Gardens 1

Waterhouse 0, Mount Pleasant 1

Cavalier FC 1, Humble Lion 1

Dunbeholden FC 3, Harbour View 0

 

 

After a 6-0 aggregate beating from Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit FC Cincinnati in Concacaf Champions Cup play, Rudolph Speid and his Cavalier unit would have hoped for better fortunes on return to the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL).

While they did well to come from behind in a 1-1 stalemate with Humble Lion, the outcome was by no means pleasing to Speid, who felt they were undone by poor officiating in the lukewarm contest at Stadium East field on Monday.

With the score tied in the dying moments of the game, after Andre Clennon (56th) fired Humble Lion in front, and Jalmaro Calvin (72nd) responded for Cavalier, Jeovanni Laing thought he had the winner for Speid’s side, but the goal was disallowed by referee Andre Farquharson.

This, as there was some contact between Laing and Humble Lion’s goalkeeper Shamal Briscoe in a challenge for possession leading up to the goal. However, replay showed that Laing got to the ball well ahead of the advancing Briscoe, who through momentum, then collided with the attacker’s trailing leg on his way towards goal.

The call left Speid fuming, as it denied his team two points which would have pushed them back to the summit of the league, albeit on goal difference. Instead, they remain second on 44 points, two behind reigning champions Mount Pleasant FA (46 points), but with a game in hand.

“There was another call for a penalty that we didn't get, and then that was a clean goal. These are not easy things to miss. It is the most difficult thing for you make a call like that wrong. I mean after we spend millions of dollars to play football, we are supposed to win our game, if we get to win our game. Frankly, I think we won the game, except for that blatant call that has no place in football,” Speid argued.

Cavalier earlier dominated proceedings, and squandered numerous chances, in a goalless first half, much to Speid’s disappointment.

It was almost like rubbing salt in a wound when Clennon put Humble Lion in front 11 minutes into the resumption, as he fired home from close range, after Cavalier failed to clear their lines from Xavian Virgo’s freekick.

Cavalier later bossed possession in their press for the equalizer, which eventually came in the 72nd when Calvin glanced a perfectly weighted cross from Laing into the far corner of the goal for his 10th of the season.

Speid’s side maintained the momentum from there, and thought they had the winner in time added, but for the controversial call.

“I am not happy with the performance because we got a lot of opportunities, especially in the first half that we could have done better with. But again, it was just a difficult game to play, every time we challenged, it was a call, so it was just difficult for us to play this game,” Speid said.

“It is very important that we maintain it (our challenge for the top spot), but if we get games like this, we don't know what's going to happen because I didn't think this was a fair result,” he added.

Humble Lion’s Head coach Vassell Reynolds found more positives in the result, especially with his Clarendon-based team fighting to stay above the relegation zone.

They are currently in 12th position on 19 points, seven points ahead of Treasure Beach (12 points), who occupies the drop zone with the other promoted team Lime Hall Academy (seven points).

“Many people thought that we would have come here and get a beating, but I thought the guys played gallantly and I think we deserve at least a point from the game,” Reynolds said.

“We want to move away from this, from this dreaded zone just to prevent us looking over our shoulder when we are playing, and also, so that we can go out and play with a little bit more confidence. So, a few more points in the upcoming games and we should be fine,” he noted.

Julien Alfred secured St Lucia’s first ever global gold medal, when she topped the women’s 60m final in a world lead equalling 6.98s, to fittingly bring the curtains down on day of the World Athletics Indoor Championships, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Saturday.

Alfred, who has a personal best of 6.94s, was always expected to continue her rich vein of form with a podium finish, but her gold medal prospects improved even more when her main rival Aleia Hobbs of the United States pulled out of the final with an injury.

Still, the 22-year-old Alfred showed her class, as she burst through the middle of Poland’s Ewa Swoboda (7.00s) and Italy’s Zaynab Dosso (7.05s), to finish tops.

"It feels good, I don't know how they are behaving right now, but I am sure they are happy. I have been working hard for such a long time to come out here and give my country their first ever gold medal and I am so happy, overwhelmed and ecstatic right now," Alfred said shortly after the race.

St Lucia’s Minister of Sport Kenson Casimir congratulated Alfred on the feat which has given the Eastern Caribbean Island much to celebrate.

“St Lucia's first ever global medallist in any sporting event and I think what makes it even more special is the fact that it is a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships. Of course, we are so proud, our entire nation is so proud. Of course, when you've won a medal, they say St Lucia wins it, so I can see every single individual really, really enjoying what we just witnessed today,” Casimir told SportsMax.TV.

“Of course, I want to say congratulations to her family, Julian is somebody from humble, humble, humble beginnings from Castries, St Lucia, and she's doing so well, and we just look forward to even bigger and better things later on this year at the Olympic Games,” he added.

On that note, Casimir declared his government’s intentions to continue throwing the necessary support behind Alfred as she continues to progress in her budding career.

“We certainly believe that there's more to come from Julien. She is young. She has worked really hard her entire life from coming from the Leon Hess comprehensive secondary school and going over to high school in Jamaica and then later on to Texas.

“She has really worked extremely hard and so as a government, we continue to put our resources behind her as she has transitioned so effectively into being a professional. And of course, with Coach Flo behind her from the University of Texas, we only expect bigger and better things from Julien Alfred,” he shared.

Earlier, Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald clocked a new personal best 45.65s for bronze in the men’s 400m.

McDonald produced his usual late burst to secure his first ever indoor medal, and in the process became the first ever global male 400m medallist for coach Stephen Francis.

The event was won by Belgium’s Alexander Doom in a new national record 45.25s, ahead of World and Olympic 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm, who clocked a season’s best 45.34s.

McDonald's bronze is Jamaica's third at the Championships, as Ackeem Blake and Carey McLeod, also won bronze in the men's 60m and long jump respectively.

While pleased with their performance in a 0-1 loss to Jamaica in game one, Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Angus Eve is anticipating even more improvements from his Soca Warriors when the two teams meet in the second game of the two-match series on Sunday.

With Jamaican debutante Kaheim Dixon scoring the game's lone goal in the 58th minute at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday, Eve opted to focus on the positives in the exercise, which provided an opportunity for several local-based players to make their national senior team debut.

Eve gave debut starts Tiger Tanks Club Sando pair of left back Shervohnez Hamilton and midfielder Kai Moos, while AC Port of Spain's versatile wing back Liam Burns also got his first start for the twin island republic. The overseas-based pair of Kai Garvey and Justin Obikwu, who started at the left wing and centre forward positions respectively, also found favour with Eve, who felt the new players adjusted well in their first outing.

"It is going to be difficult for these guys (Garvey and Obikwu) coming from where they are coming from and trying to adjust in just a couple days of work. I thought they adjusted well. They tried to bring the strengths they had to the group," Eve said in a post-match conference.

"For the most part, I thought the group did really well. We gave up a really soft goal and we could not get ourselves back in the game. I think it was a lack of belief and that happens when players are not accustomed to playing at this level consistently. For effort, you must give all of the guys an A," he added.

Still, with the main objective being to identify players to fit into his final squad for the upcoming Copa America playoff fixture against Canada on March 23, Eve is expected to look at a different line up with hopes that they will be mor fluid and consist in their play to give the coaching staff much to think about.

"I thought it was a great exercise for the guys. When you look at the starting team, we had about six or seven players who were uncapped. We need more exercises like this to expose these guys and give them the opportunity because they have been doing well in the league," the tactician shared.

"So, it's now to give the guys who are more established a run out going into the playoff game. Rhondel Gibson was good on the ball and when he came on, the team started to believe a little bit more. He wasn't afraid to get to the ball and those are the type of players we are looking for to be that brave and show themselves," Eve ended.

The second game is scheduled for a 4:00pm kick off (3:00pm Jamaica time), at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on Sunday.

NB: That game will be live on SportsMax.

Jamaica’s Carey McLeod secured bronze in the men’s long jump final on day two of the World Athletics Indoor Championships, as Saturday’s morning session yielded mostly positive results for Caribbean athletes in Glasgow, Scotland.

McLeod, who just missed a medal at last year’s World Athletic Championships in Budapest, cut the sand at a new season’s best 8.21m. He placed behind Greece’s World Champion Miltiadis Tentoglou and Italy’s Mattia Furlani, who both leapt to a mark of 8.22m.

Another Jamaican, Tajay Gayle was sixth at 7.89m, while LaQuan Nairn of the Bahamas was 15th at 7.59m.

McLeod's medal is Jamaica's second at the Championship, adding to Ackeem Blake's bronze won in the men's 60m final on Friday.

On the track, St Lucia’s in-form sprinter Julien Alfred, Bahamian Anthonique Strachan, Barbadian Tristan Evelyn, as well as Jamaicans Briana Williams and Shashalee Forbes, all progressed to the women’s 60m semi-finals, after contrasting performances in their respective heats.

Alfred, 22, comfortably won her heat in 7.02s and headlines the qualifiers, as Strachan (7.24s), Williams (7.22s) and Forbes (7.17s), all placed second in their heats, while Evelyn (7.17s) was third in heat four.

Beyonce Defreitas (7.44s) of British Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, despite a season’s best 7.26s, failed to progress, as both placed fifth in their heats.

The women’s 60m semi-final and final is scheduled for Saturday’s evening session.

Elsewhere on the track, Jamaica’s Damion Thomas and Tyler Mason, both failed to progress in the men’s 60m hurdles, after both placed sixth in their respective heats in 7.73s and 7.86s.

Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin also missed out on a spot in the women’s 800m final, following a sixth-place finish in her semi-final race. Goule-Toppin stopped the clock in 2:01.41.

Meanwhile, Ken Mullings of the Bahamas, started the men’s Heptathlon on a positive note, as he placed third in his heat of the 60m dash in a personal best 6.83s.

Mullings also registered a new lifetime best of 7.69m when he placed fifth in the long jump, and that was followed by a heave of 14.49m in the shot pot. By virtue of those performances, the 26-year-old currently occupies third position on 2684 points, behind Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer (2800 points) and Estonia’s Johannes Erm (2739 points).

They still have the high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m to come.

Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz drew first blood against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, as they registered a 1-0 win in the first of their two-match friendly series at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.

Kaheim Dixon's 58th-minute strike proved the solitary goal of the contest which was played behind closed doors to facilitate preparation for the twin island republic's Carifta Games trials.

Dixon, the former Clarendon College stalwart, was the first Reggae Boy to score on debut since Justin McMaster's feat against Cameroon in 2022.

Reggae Boyz assistant coach Merron Gordon said their main objective to expose new talents were met as they fielded 13 debutants on the day.

"Games like these are always tough playing against Trinidad and Tobago, but I think it was a good game. Both teams, I think had the same objective which was to expose these players as much as possible and I think we got that," Gordon said in a post-match interview.

"When you see a player like Kahiem score a goal on his debut is amazing and these are the kind of things that we want for them to transition from schoolboy football into international football and I think he acquitted himself well, and young Jayden Hibbert in goal is a teenager as well so that augurs well for us," he added.

The Jamaicans started well, and were more threatening in open play in the early exchanges, before Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors found their rhythm. Though the first half ended goalless, it wasn't for a lack of trying, as both teams had looks at goal.

In the 12th minute, Kaihim Thomas got the first effort off for the Soca Warriors from a distance, but Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Kemar Foster took flight to tip over.

Alex Marshall, who proved a menace to the Soca Warriors's backline, responded for the Reggae Boyz, but his effort was parried by Adrian Foncette, in goal for Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz maintained the momentum on the resumption and again went close through Romeo Guthrie, whose shot was blocked by Foncette at his near post two minutes in.

The deadlock was eventually broken when Dixon produced an intelligent run down the right channel, dismissed a defender and tucked home.

They should have doubled the lead in the 65th when Sue-Lae McCalla found himself with space and time to fire home from Guthrie's corner, but somehow steered the effort wide.

Seconds later, Marshall and Dixon connected well with the latter driving his right-footer into the sidenetting.

The Reggae Boyz continued to apply consistent pressure but found the Soca Warriors defence in defiant mode, as a 69th-minute effort by Jason Wright from Andre Fletcher's pass, was charged down.

A minute later, Devante Campbell played a perfect pass across the face of goal, but Wright couldn't apply finishing touch.

Campbell also had a grand opportunity to get on the scoresheet in time added, when he found himself in a one-on-one situation with substitute goalkeeper Christopher Biggette, but his tame effort was swallowed up by the custodian, who left his line well.

Despite the scoreline, Soca Warriors Head coach Angus Eve, took heart from the performance.

"Not disappointed at all. Many of these players are playing at this level for the very first time and I think they acquitted themselves well and we were in the game for the most part, but we gave away a sloppy goal that proved the difference in the game. We want to give people exposure as you can see, we made minimum number of changes because we wanted to expose the young guys as much as possible. So, this is a good exercise for them to understand the pace of the game at this level going forward," Eve said.

The teams will meet again on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima at 3:00pm Jamaica time.

NB: That game can also be seen live on SportsMax 

With another window providing another pair of defeats to reflect on, interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is hopeful that the rift between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will be resolved soon, so the programme can regain its competitive edge before the start of any other major women’s competition.

This, as he bemoans the fact that the impasse had a hand in Jamaica’s failure to qualify for the ongoing inaugural Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, and the possibility of the country’s current ranking taking a hit by virtue of the recent results, which could discourage potential opponents.  

Gilbert’s sentiments follow the new-look Reggae Girlz 0-1 defeat to Chile in the second of their two-match international friendly series in Santiago on Tuesday. Yessenia Lopez scored the lone goal in the 34th minute.

The Girlz lost the first game 1-5 on Friday.

While he welcomed the improved performance from the new-look team, coupled with the exposure to high level competition for most players in a now widened pool, Gilbert believes a mixture of the World Cup players and their younger counterparts is the best way to build going forward.

“Both games served us well because like I said a number of players were exposed to high level competition and it was good. So, I hope we can continue to use the FIFA windows, to not only widen the pool and look at as many players as possible, but also to ensure that we are in competitive mode ahead of the other competitions including the World Cup qualifiers,” Gilbert said.

“So, I am optimistic that the World Cup Girlz will be up for selection (for the April window), so hopefully all things can be sorted out by then because we want to continue to build,” he told SportsMax.TV.

Reflecting on the overall trip to Chile, pointed out that the improved performance speaks volumes of what can be achieved when players spend more time together, as he believes additional training sessions contributed to a more energetic and cohesive display.

“It was a way better performance and I honestly thought that we should have taken something out of the game. We created a few scoring opportunities and should have converted at least one, but overall, everything about the performance was much better in terms of our energy and all that,” Gilbert shared.

“I think we applied ourselves much better than the first, and I think having a few training sessions contributed to that because we sorted a few things out. So, we were better and more aggressive in terms of how we defend and applied pressure to the Chileans,” he added.

 Despite the low of dealing with numerous player injuries, Gilbert rated the overall trip a success where player development is concerned.

“We made six changes from the first game, and some were forced changes, so that was a major low for us. But the high point is the exposure that the younger players got and the way they performed, I think they acquitted themselves well which augurs well for the programme going forward,” he ended.

Lamara Distin of Texas A&M once again etched her name in the record books, as she became the first female high jumper in NCAA history to clear 2.00m (6-6.75) at the South-Eastern Conference (SEC) indoor championships at the Tyson Sports Complex in Fayetteville, on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Distin, who won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and was a finalist at last year’s World Championships, once again demonstrated her class and rich vein of form in her winning mark.

Along with rewriting her previous national record of 1.97m set last year, Distin also shattered her own meet record of 1.95m, as well as the previous championship record of 1.98m set by Hooker Tex in 2016. She also equaled the facility record.

Distin won ahead of Arkansas’ Rachel Glenn (1.94m) and University of Georgia’s Elena Kulichenko (1.91m). Another Jamaican Nia Robinson or Arkansas was 12th with a new personal best mark of 1.75m.

Jamaica’s Romaine Beckford representing Arkansas also topped the men’s high jump after clearing the bar at 2.25m. He won ahead of Mississippi State’s Sherman Hawkins (2.16m) and Texas A&M’s Ushan Perera (2.11m).

On the track, Brianna Lyston of Louisiana State University, also continued her rich vein of form when she clocked a meet record equalling 7.08 to win the women’s 60m final. She equalled the time set by another Jamaican Remona Burchell of University of Alabama in 2015.

Though disappointed by their hefty defeat to Chile in their opening friendly contest, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert maintain that his youthful senior Reggae Girlz outfit will learn from the setback, as he anticipates an improved performance in the second encounter on Tuesday.

In fact, Gilbert is confident that the more his new-look team plays, the better the performances will be, as they continue to introduce and expose players to the senior programme, mainly due to the current standoff between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

The Chileans through goals from Michelle Olivares (12th), Maria Jose Urrutia (22nd), Yestin Jimenez (61st), Yenny Acuna (70th) and Paloma Duarte (88th), outclassed their Jamaican counterparts at the Juan Pinto Duran Stadium in Chile on Friday. Chinyelu Asher (77th) with her seventh international goal, pulled one back for the Jamaicans.

“I don’t think we were good enough to be honest, we started off really shaky and allowed them too much space to play despite what we said we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to approach the game. We were a little bit tentative on the back foot and they exploited those areas that we left opened,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“We were much better in the second half, so we will look to build on that because it is a learning process, and so we will see how best we can carry that momentum over into the next game,” he added.

Along with the lack of preparation heading into the games, Gilbert pointed out that niggling injuries also marred their performance, as a number of the college players are just getting back into season, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey is still gradually working her way back from a knee surgery.

“It was difficult because some players are recovering from injury and some college players are just heading back into season, but it is what we have to work with, and we just have to put a better showing in the next game. The more we play oppositions like these, the better we will get. As I said before, this is new for a lot of them on the international stage, so the more we play, the more competitive we will be,” Gilbert reasoned.

Still, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, the veteran tactician is keen on using the remaining time in Chile to work on certain aspects of the team’s game, with hopes of conducting more intensive work when they next assemble for the April window.

“But for now we are just going to recover and assess the game, look at where we went wrong and improve some things that we could have done better. There are some areas that needs more work than what we will be able to fix here, but we are going to ensure we have good defensive organisation,” Gilbert declared.

“So, we are going to give a few other players some minutes to get back into fold and we are going to continue to work to make sure that defensively we are solid, and also tighten up on how we match up against opponents like these, so we should give a better account of ourselves in the next game,” he ended.

Having found a good blend of local and overseas-based players, young Reggae Boyz Head coach John Wall will now be hoping his team can execute efficiently throughout their Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship campaign.

Wall and his 21-member team, which includes 10 overseas-based players, are scheduled to arrive in St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday where they are expected to fine tune preparations for their Group F assignment against Martinique, Grenada and Bermuda.

The Swedish tactician named his final squad following two warm-up fixtures against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, and one against their senior club outfit in the twin island republic. They first lost 2-3 to Trinidad and Tobago, but won the second contest 3-1, with a goalless stalemate against the club team.

Despite those results, Wall in a recent interview, expressed pleasure with his team's display for the most part.

“Three games, three different outcomes, but mainly it (the camp) was just to build a solid foundation in our style of play, how the environment is, what we value and what it takes to play in the national setting. So, it gave me a lot of answers as to where the players are at present, and what needs to be assessed as we move forward towards St Kitts, so hopefully the process can continue ahead of the tournament,” Wall said.

With Jamaica failing to qualify for the Under-20 Men’s World Cup since Argentina 2001, the hope is that Wall’s side will better the country’s quarterfinals run from Honduras in 2022, to accomplish the qualifying feat.

The young Reggae Boyz will open against Martinique on Saturday, followed by a clash with Grenada on February 26, before closing against Bermuda two days later.

“For me it’s about controlling the controllable at this point in terms of what we can do,” Wall, who is assisted by former Reggae Boyz defender Rudolph Austin, declared.

“My hope and aspiration (for the tournament) lie in the work that we put down and not the talent that we assess, so we have to do the work consistently because ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails,” he added.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Squad -Akeem Bernard (Phoenix Academy), Joshua Grant (Real Salt Lake), Taywane Lynch (Mount Pleasant FA), Romain Blake (Chicago Fire), Michael Forbes (Cavalier), Adrian Reid Jr (Cavalier), Ronaldo Barrett (Cavalier), Ahir Dixon (Woodstock Academy), George Grant Jr (Middlesbrough FC), Kyron Horsley McKay (Millwall FC), Alexander Bicknell (Leixoes SC), Malachi Welch (Leyton Orient), Christopher Ainsworth (Cavalier), Brian Burkett (Dunbeholden FC), Dunsting Cohen (Vere United FC), Denzel McKenzie (Phoenix Academy), Robino Gordon (Phoenix Academy), Fabian Reynolds (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ashton Gordon (Atlanta United), Nick Simmonds (Richmond Kickers), Tyrese Gowe (Dunbeholden FC)

A record sixth-wicket stand between Andre Russell and Sherfane Rutherford was backed by a dazzling spell of spin bowling by Roston Chase, as West Indies salvaged some pride with a 37-run win over Australia to end their three-match Twenty20 (T20) series on a high, on Tuesday.

While Australia took the series 2-1, the consolation win and, by extension the performances of Russell and Rutherford in a 139-run stand, provides a solid platform on which West Indies at can continue to build in their charge towards the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup later this year.

With West Indies in trouble at 79-5, after Rovman Powell opted to bat first, Russell and Rutherford took Australia’s bowlers to task, as they combined for 12 sixes in the record stand that propelled the Caribbean side to a competitive 220-6 at Optus Stadium.

Russell was particularly destructive, as the Jamaican utilized only 29 balls for his 71, which included seven maximums and four fours, while Rutherford’s unbeaten 40-ball 67, included five maximums and five fours.

David Warner, who struck nine fours and three sixes in a 49-ball 81, briefly threatened to overhaul the total, but Australia suffered a mini collapse after his dismissal, as West Indies bowlers came up trumps on this occasion. Tim David with a quickfire 19-ball 41, was Australia's next best scorer. His unbeaten knock had two fours and four sixes. 

Scores: West Indies 220-6 (Russell 71, Rutherford 67 not out, Bartlett 2-37) beat Australia 183-5 (Warner 81, David 41 not out, Chase 2-19, Shepherd 2-31) by 37 runs

Having failed to chase down daunting totals when they lost the first two matches, West Indies captain Powell decided to switch strategies and bat first, but it almost seemed futile when the top-order failed to navigate the extra bounce. Johnson Charles (four), Kyle Mayers (11) and Nicholas Pooran (one), all fell cheaply, as West Indies slipped to 17-3 in the third over.

Powell and Chase restored some semblance of respectability to the innings with a 55-run fourth-wicket stand. But when Chase fell for 37 off 20 balls, including three fours and two sixes, Powell went soon after for a 14-ball 21 that had three boundaries, and West Indies were steering down the proverbial barrel at that point.

However, Russell and Rutherford were in defiant mood. The two slaughtered Australia’s bowlers and raised their half-centuries in 25 balls and 33 balls respectively, and inevitably pushed West Indies past the 200-run mark.

Much like he started his innings, Russell ended in explosive fashion, as he struck Adam Zampa for three-consecutive sixes in a penultimate over that yielded 28 runs, but later holed out in the last over and walked off the ground to a standing ovation from the over 17,000 crowd.

Xavier Bartlett was Australia’s most successful bowler with 2-37 from his four overs.

Knowing they required a solid start, Australia reshuffled their batting order, with captain Mitchell Marsh taking opening duties alongside Warner. But Marsh struggled for rhythm and was overshadowed by Warner, who overcame a rough start when a short delivery from Alzarri Joseph banged into the grill via his shoulder.

After Marsh fell for 17, wickets continued to tumble around Warner, who raced to a half-century off 25 balls. The left-hander seemed set for a second T20I century, but was overburdened in the middle overs, and eventually holed out to Russell off Chase.

From there, Australia’s innings fell apart, even with David's late burst, as Chase, who proved an inspired selection, ended with tidy figures of 2-19 from four overs. He was well supported by seamer Romario Shepherd, who had 2-31.

Reigning champions Mount Pleasant Football Academy reclaimed their regular position in the top two on the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League standing, following a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Harbour View at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Devonte Campbell (25th) and Shaqueil Bradford (35th) got the goals for Mount Pleasant, after Demar Rose gave Harbour View an early second-minute lead in the encounter that started at a decent pace, but lost tempo in the second half.

The win, which extended Mount Pleasant’s unbeaten run across seven games, pushed the St Ann-based team up to 39 points, one behind leaders Cavalier, on 40 points.

Tivoli Gardens (37 points), Portmore United (36 points), Arnett Gardens (34 points) and Waterhouse FC (26 points), occupy the other playoff positions. Harbour View are ninth on 19 points.

Winning coach Theodore Whitmore was pleased with his team’s recovery after conceding early.

“It was a high intensity game which is what we expected, but the problem is how we started the first half, and secondly, we played in the middle, instead of going out wide where we needed to play because that is where we are dangerous. After we sorted that, we got back into the game and got the job done,” Whitmore said in a post-game interview.

“After conceding, we didn’t panic, we maintained our focus and used the width of the pitch and that is where we were successful. So, it was a good win, but we want to take it game-by-game and just do what we have to do,” he added.

It was a frantic start to the contest, as Harbour View grabbed the early ascendancy, when Demar Rose lashed a right-footer past Mount Pleasant’s goalkeeper Shaquan Davis from deep inside the 18-yard box, after Jashaun Anglin neatly chested the ball down into his path.

The ‘Stars of the East’ continued to enjoy the better of possession and should have doubled the lead in the 11th Okeemo Jones broke down the right channel with Rose for company in a two-on-one situation. However, he was hesitant in getting the pass off and was later dispossessed by a recovering defender.

That missed opportunity proved costly 14 minutes later, as Mount Pleasant pulled level courtesy of a tidy team build up, which ended with Campbell firing home his second of the season from an angle, after Daniel Green’s initial effort was parried by Davis.

From there, Whitmore’s side took advantage of the game, as they spread the ball to the left channel, in particular, where Campbell utilized his speed and nippy footwork to rattle Harbour View’s defence.

Three minutes past the half-hour mark, the 20-year-old Campbell produced a burst of speed down the left channel and was felled inside the danger area by Jones.

Referee Christopher Mason quickly pointed to the spot, and Bradford, who was assigned responsibility, made no mistakes from the 12-yard spot to put Mount Pleasant 2-1 up.

Mount Pleasant thought they had a third when Sue-Lae McCalla got the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed by referee Mason, who spotted a handball.

They again got the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time, but again it didn’t count as Bradford’s finish was from an offside position, and the score remained 2-1 at the break.

The second half, which was marred by stoppages, offered very little to write home about where goalmouth action is concerned, as both teams nullified each other’s attacking prowess and, as such, were unable to really produce anything meaningful in the final third.

Though slightly disappointed with the outcome, Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard took heart from his team’s performance.

“I thought we gave it our all it is just unfortunate that after two breaks, we conceded and this about the third time this has happened, so we have to concentrate better,” said Bernard, who also took a jab at the officiating.

“I wouldn’t entirely say it was down to indiscipline, but more incompetence on the part of the officials. I think they were extremely poor, but that is that my guys battled hard, I think we needed to continue being patient with our build ups and that is a positive that we will build on going forward,” he noted.

Matchweek 18 Results

Cavalier 4, Lime Hall Academy 0

Molynes United 2, Portmore United 2

Dunbeholden FC 1, Treasure Beach FC 1

Humble Lion 0, Tivoli Gardens 2

Montego Bay United 0, Arnett Gardens 0

Vere United 0, Waterhouse FC 1

Harbour View 1, Mount Pleasant FA 2

Kemar Foster, one of the most influential shot stoppers in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League, produced a gritty goalkeeping display to ensure Waterhouse edged Vere United 1-0 in a lively contest at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Foster, who often partners Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake on national duties, made a number of saves to shutout Vere United in a dazzling performance that pushed the Drewsland-based team over the line after Revaldo Mitchell’s solitary 24th-minute strike.

The 31-year-old Foster displayed unbeatable form, which underlined his credentials. He claimed crosses, shut down angles and even went full stretch to tip shots around and over his goal frame. Nothing was too much to ask of Foster on the day, as he flew around his box, putting his body on the line to deny Vere United.

It’s gritty goalkeeper performances like this that keep teams in the hunt for championship honours, and the shutout not only handed Waterhouse three points, but also propelled them back into the top six on 26 points, two points ahead of seventh-placed Dunbeholden, and three ahead of eighth-placed Montego Bay United, their closest pursuers. Vere United on the other hand, remains 10th on 19 points.

Foster, who required medical attention on a few occasions, felt he was exposed too often, but expressed content with his display between the sticks, which is sometimes overlooked.

“In the midfield, I think we gave Vere too much space to play and they did play. Teams will hurt you once you give them space, but I am fortunate to come out with a clean sheet,” Foster said in a post-game interview.

“It (goalkeeping duty) is rough to be honest, you have to stay focus after a game like this and not get ahead of yourself, and also ensure you recover properly and rest when possible before hitting training hard again. This is the best performance I had so far this season, it’s a long season, so I am hoping I can have many more like this going forward.” he added.

After a spirited start, it took Vere United 15 minutes to ask their first question of Foster, and the custodian proved equal to the task when he went full-stretch to his right to parry Odane Murray’s stinging right-footed effort.

That may have been the wake-up call Waterhouse needed, as they got into their rhythm shortly after, and eventually found the go-ahead goal. It came when Navardo Blair’s free kick sparked a melee, which ended with Mitchell tucking home from close range after Javane Bryan and Andre Fletcher’s efforts were desperately kept out by Javier Brown on the goal line.

Though they continued to threaten in open play, Waterhouse failed to add to their tally, as numerous half-chances were squandered and, as such, the score remained unchanged at the break.

Like they did at the start, Vere United came out more purposeful on the resumption, but unlike the first half, they didn’t allow Waterhouse a look-in on this occasion, and were only denied by Foster’s resilience.

It took two great saves in quick success by Foster to deny Vere United in the 54th, as he first blocked Kemar Beckford’s well-struck left-footed shot and recovered well to parry Justin Cohen’s acrobatic effort on the rebound.

Vere pressed the ascendancy and found a couple more openings in the latter stages of the contest from which they again tested Foster’s mettle in their probe to pull level.

Javon Smith got on the end of weighted Javier Brown corner kick with a firm header, but Foster got down well to his right to squeeze out the effort at his near post.

And even with the game nearing its end, Vere United’s substitute Lorenzo Lewin unleashed a well-struck snapshot, and Foster again came up big in time added to ensure his team secured all three points.

Waterhouse’s assistant coach Damion Gordon hailed the defensive line for holding firm as their attacking front came up short.

“The big question surrounds our consistency. I thought our first half was very good and they (Vere United) were clearly better than us in the second half, but in terms of our defensive structure, I think we did well,” he said.

For Vere United’s Head coach Linval Dixon, there is cause for concern over his team’s failure to convert a goal in five straight games, but he is also mindful that it is not for a lack of trying.

“Not scoring goals is disturbing for us because we have really been working hard in training to score, so it is cause for concern. But we are still working, and we are still fighting. It is just that we came up against a national goalkeeper and he was the difference in the game. I can’t fault the team for effort so like I said, we will continue working because when we start scoring things will change,” Dixon declared.

With members of last year’s senior Reggae Girlz FIFA World Cup squad and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) still yet to amicably agree on the way forward, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert has once again pooled a fairly inexperienced team for a two-match friendly against Chile later this month.

Gilbert, who welcomed the fixtures, and his Reggae Girlz is expected to assemble in the South American country on February 21, ahead the two games scheduled for February 23 and 27.

“It is always important to utilize the FIFA windows so getting these games is a good move from the JFF and, of course, we get to expose some of the young talent that we have to offer to top level competition so they can gain the necessary experience that will be required as we look ahead,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

The 22-player squad comprises mostly players that contested last year’s Women’s Gold Cup qualifiers, with former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey, who recently signed with London City Lionesses, making a return to the national setup following a knee surgery, while National Under-17 representative Naya Cardoza, makes her transition to the senior team.

“It is very good to have Jade back she is a very good player who was out for quite some time, so it is good to have her back in the fold giving her level of experience and we expect her to be one of the leaders in the team where guiding the younger players is concerned,” Gilbert noted.

This will be the second two-match friendly series between the two teams following their 2019 meeting in Jamaica, which the Reggae Girlz won 1-0 and 3-2. However, Chile came away 6-0 winners in their most recent meeting at last year’s Pan American Games.

“We are expecting another good game from Chile, obviously they are a pretty good team with a lot to offer. It is never comfortable going into another team’s base to play, so we just have to go there and give of our best, because like I said, these games are important for players to not only gain experience, but also to develop some semblance of cohesion going forward,” Gilbert reasoned.

Squad: Theanna Burnett (Sacred Heart University), Serena Mensa (Fordham University), Malikae Dayes (AAB, Denmark), Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University), Nevillegail Able (University of Maine, Fort Kent), Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense), Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny), Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University), Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas), Christina Salmon (William Carey University), Davia Richards Player (Hill College),Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF, France), Shaneil Buckley (Excelsior High), Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC), Aliyah Morgan (George Mason University), Jade Bailey (London City Lionessess), Destiny Powell (Excelsior High), Lachante Paul (Burnley FC), Isreala Groves (London City Lionesses), Naya Cardoza (Brown University), Njeri Butts (University Of Florida), Sydnie Street (Seneca College)

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