Laurie Foster: Race for Olympics heating up

first_imgThe traditional magic and mystique of Olympic year is once again raring its attractive head. With just about nine weeks to go for the National Championships (Trials), already, a few athletes are positioning themselves, drawing for their bow and taking aim. The bullseye is a seat on the plane to the widely acknowledged ultimate in sports participation, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in the Brazilian city of Rio. For this blessed nation, with the eye-catching attraction of the sports’ world-governing body, the professional circuit, yet unfolded, promises of spectacular performances are rife. After missing two World Championships through troubling injury, Yohan Blake has stormed back. He has publicly dropped a name that identified him as a monstrous and despicable creature, which he is not. The former St Jago High School sprinter and current national under-20 record holder (10.11+1.2) blasted a then 100m world-leading 9.95 legal at the UTech-MVP Classic on April 16. It stands as arguably the most compelling boost of confidence and satisfaction levels for a country trying to put its best feet forward leading into the great spectacle in the South American continent this August. EARLY DAYS Downgrade the Blake impact a bit to Simone Facey’s 11.00 at the Tom Jones Memorial last weekend. This, too, must be a morale strengthener to an athlete who has been constantly flogged in more recent times by many she considered to be her inferior in junior track. The 2009 Berlin WC 4x100m gold medallist has sent an early indication of her path to Rio. The mark will earn her lanes at the very top of the competition ladder where there is no dodging by the world’s fastest as exists with the other gender. Yet, it is early days and one is not aware of the quality or sustainability of her programme. Suffice it to say, in the absence of this knowledge, to the fringe-based honours suspects at Trials: “Watch out, VCB, Sherone (Simpson), Kerron (Stewart) and company, Simone might have been sleeping, but is now fully awake.” The advance of the nation’s throwing programme cannot escape mention in a Rio context. Foster’s Fairplay will continue to carry the flag for coaches/pioneers of excellence in that traditionally ignored area. Julian Leonard Robinson and Michael Vassell have torched the consciences of the movers and shakers of the sport in the local arena. Their charges have been crashing parties in both genders. The new, and much appreciated by a few, wellness in discus and shot put is contagious. It has spread to the Edwin Allen and Petersfield High school models. Foster’s Fairplay, on that limited mention, is hearing legitimate calls reminiscent of the soul classic by the group Champagne – “How about us?” Yes, the template has extended to other camps. However, the point to be made is that the world scene has been invaded in these hitherto peripheral disciplines and the two coaches mentioned can take a proverbial bow. As MVP’s Paul Francis, himself part of a game-changing group, said on Facebook recently, words to the effect of: “Why stop at the World Junior level? Go for the Olympics.” Let us then see if the throwing contingent of (Odayne) Richards, (Jason) Morgan, (Federick) Dacres, (Traves) Smikle and company can inspire the new discus national Under-20 record holder and Vassell-conditioned Shanice Love to reach for Rio. With all that jockeying for team selection in store, the fans’ taste buds are already well moistened. The intensity of the Diamond League and all that it brings to the fore will only be more enticing and threatens to sweeten the competition brew even further. Looking at the pending action, on field and track, one learned critic, referring to the Jamaica Trials, opined: “It will be like a mini-Olympics. Another, speaking in less ornate terms, confided: “It nah guh normal.” Foster’s Fairplay believes that those predictions could fall short at crunch time, June 30 to July 3. For feedback: Email lauriefoster2012@gmail.comlast_img read more

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Russell fires KKR to victory

first_img Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha (24) put on 40 for the fourth wicket and added a further 67 for the fifth wicket with David Miller (13). However, Maxwell fell in the 16th over with 45 runs needed from 27 balls and Russell returned in the 18th over to remove the dangerous Miller and swing the advantage KKR’s way. In the final over, Russell ran out Axar Patel for 21 after Gurkeerat Singh drove the second delivery back to him and he turned and hit the stumps, with the batsmen at the non-striker backing up too far. Gurkeerat Singh was then run out off the next delivery, attempting a second run to the deep, and Russell picked up his fourth wicket when he trapped Swapnil Singh lbw with a full length delivery, to the first ball he faced. ADDING ON RUNS KOLKATA, India (CMC): Irrepressible West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell played a small cameo with the bat, grabbed four wickets and bowled a remarkable final over as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) shot to the top of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a tense seven-run victory over Kings XI Punjab here yesterday. The Jamaican lashed 16 from 10 balls at the death as KKR rallied to 164 for three off their 20 overs, after they were sent in at Eden Gardens. KKR were propelled though by openers Robin Uthappa, who stroked 70, and Gautam Gambhir, who gathered 54. In reply, Kings XI’s run chase was crippled by pacer Russell’s opening burst, which reduced them to 13 for three in the fourth over; and despite Australian Glenn Maxwell’s superb top score of 68, the visitors could only reach 157 for nine. Kings XI required 12 runs from the final over but Russell, voted Man of the Match, proved outstanding in conceding just four runs, effecting a run out and grabbing another wicket to finish with four for 20 from his four overs. With the victory, KKR joined new boys Gujarat Lions on 12 points, but topped the standings courtesy of a superior net run rate. Uthappa lashed six fours and two sixes off 49 balls in posting 101 off 81 deliveries for the first wicket with Gambhir, before adding 36 for the second wicket with Yusuf Pathan, who finished on 19 not out. Russell arrived in the 17th over to help give KKR a flourish at the end, belting a four and a six in putting on 27 for the third wicket, before falling to the final delivery of the innings. The 28-year-old then gave KKR a fine start, claiming Marcus Stoinis without scoring off the fourth ball of the innings, with a single run on the board. In his next over, Russell had Manan Vohra caught at deep backward square without scoring as Kings XI tumbled at the top.last_img read more

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NACAC bronze medals for Wilkins-Gooden, Chambers

first_imgJAMAICA increased its medal tally at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Senior Athletics Championships in San JosÈ, Costa Rica, by two on yesterday’s second day of the three-day meet.Bobby Gaye Wilkins-Gooden and Ricardo Chambers won bronze medals in the women’s and men’s 400 metres, respectively. The country now has three medals a gold and two bronze. Shanieke Thomas won the triple jump on the opening day.Wilkins Gooden clocked (52.45) to finish behind Americans Courtney Okolo (51.75) and Kala Funderburk (52.22).Chambers (45.37) was third to Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon (44.89) and Nery Brenes of Costa Rica (45.22).Livermore placed fourthIn other events yesterday, Jason Livermore was fourth in the men’s 100m final in 10.13, while Sheldon Mitchell was seventh in 10.31. American Remondy McLain won in 10.09 from Barbadians Ramon Gittens (10.11) and Levi Cadogan (10.13).Samantha Henry-Robinson placed fifth in the women’s 100m in 11.45. Americans Barbara Pierre (11.12) and Charonda Williams (11.21) took the top-two places ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (11.22).Jamaica’s Tyler Mason (13.32) was fourth in the 110m hurdles, while Deuce Carter was seventh in 13.66. Trinidad’s Mikhel Thomas won the event in a meet record 13.25. Cuba’s Jhanis Portilla (13.30) was second and Eddie Lovet of the US Virgin Islands captured bronze in 13.31.last_img read more

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Blake: Williams’ success fast-tracked hurdles progress

first_imgPresident of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) believes that Danielle Williams’ success in Beijing has fast-tracked Jamaica’s progress in the women’s sprint hurdles and could lead to a more rapid transition from the last era of sprint hurdlers.In 2009, Brigitte Foster-Hylton won Jamaica’s first ever gold medal in the 100-metre hurdles at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Germany, while countrywoman Deloreen Ennis-London was third as Jamaica reaped one of its richest medal hauls ever at a global championships. However, three years later, both athletes had retired, leaving behind an enormous gap to be filled. According to Dr Blake, Williams’ success may have just filled that gap.more medals per capita”Three years ago when Foster-Hylton retired, we wondered where the next crop of hurdlers were coming from, but a number of camps have been developing hurdlers and we were developing a critical mass of hurdlers so it was going to come, but it came a little quicker than anyone expected,” said the JAAA president who spoke with The Gleaner on Monday shortly after The Queen’s School honoured Williams for her exploits at the World Championships in Beijing, China.Williams unexpectedly won gold in a personal best 12.57 seconds to help Jamaica win seven gold medals and finish second overall at the championships behind Kenya. Per capita, Jamaica won more medals than any of the other leading nations, Dr Blake had earlier told the gathering of more than 1,000 students and teachers and dignitaries, including Ministers Lisa Hanna, Natalie Neita-Headley, and chairman of the school board Dr Vin Lawrence.Blake revealed that while many did not expect Williams to win a medal, he believed she could have.”I was saying to people that Jamaica stood a good chance of getting a gold medal, and when I said it people looked at me quite strangely as if I was crazy, but I have to believe and have faith in my athletes and her win shows my faith was well placed,” he said.He said Williams’ win will be an inspiration for the other female hurdlers currently emerging on to the world stage for Jamaica.”I think this will give them the boost to work harder, train harder to prepare themselves. A lot of what goes into making a successful hurdler is the preparation that goes in, and seeing that success breeds success and people are going to want to train harder and I think that at the Olympics we could end up getting more than one medal in the event.”last_img read more

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The JAAA also got exposed

first_imgThe dust is yet to settle and the clouds are yet to clear. The debate continues to spiral as to whether or not Jamaica’s track and field athletes should get preferential financial help, and if so, how much can we afford to give them, and which athletes should qualify, and how should they qualify? While the search for answers to all those questions continues, I maintain my stance that monetary contributions to mediocre senior athletes is not my preferred strategy, and that some of these athletes with these ‘hard-luck stories’, having got to a certain age and stage, need to ‘man up’, look into themselves and take the tough decision to quietly walk away from the sport. I can appreciate, however, that moving forward, some things need to change. Not least of which is the random and disorganised method used by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in allocating financial help for needy athletes. Misconception One misconception that this ongoing saga has corrected and confirmed is that the JAAA has been and continues to offer significant financial assistance to our athletes. The consensus now, though, is that to continue to disperse funding of the magnitude of $9 million annually without defined systems and structures opens up the JAAA to accusations of favouritism, nepotism and victimisation. The stories are many from athletes claiming to getting different treatment and enjoying different levels of benefits, not based on any set criteria but based on who they know personally, and who they have access to within the organisation. That is the kind of accusation that will always come the way of the JAAA as long as they continue to undertake these disbursements without a transparent structure. Who says, for example, that instead of $9 million, the JAAA is not in position to allocate $15 or $20 million for helping athletes? Who is the JAAA accountable to? Accusations have been rife against the local governing body about the secrecy with regards to the actual dollar-figure amount of the sponsorship that the JAAA has been able to attract over the years, especially with the high profile of the Jamaican athletes in the sport. So no one really knows for sure what they can or cannot afford to do. I was actually astonished on hearing the extent of the assistance that the governing body was able to find in helping needy athletes, in a context of the perennial cries of a lack of funding for key projects such as assembling our juniors for proper training camps ahead of major competition and other developmental activities. An average of over $4 million per year since 2001, increasing year to year, with some $6.5 million already disbursed this year. Certainly going forward, at least an attempt at levelling the proverbial playing field by the JAAA in terms of which athletes get what, how, where and when, is what is required. wilted under pressure The Government has wilted under the pressure and has already committed $40 million to setting up a programme to assist the athletes. While disagreeing with that move in principle, if taxpayers’ money is to be used to help needy athletes, please let it be done on a structured, transparent and equitable basis. The JAAA also needs to fall in line in that regard. Again, I say the revelations made by the airing of this issue have been quite instructive. What is now known significantly that was not known before is the level of assistance that was going the way of the athletes from the local governing body. What we also now significantly know is that the way the funds were being disbursed is rife with imperfections and inviting to wide-ranging questions, and that now needs to change. Over to you, JAAA.last_img read more

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Sports Briefs

first_imgJNBS Open League uniform parade set for Saturday The opening ceremony and uniform parade of the Netball Jamaica/JNBS Sunshine Open League netball competition will take place on Saturday, January 9, 2016, at the Leila Robinson Courts, beginning at 1 p.m. sharp. Following the uniform parade, eight rounds of regular matches will be played. The defending champions of the Open League are Mico ‘B’, while the ‘B’ trophy was won by Molynes United ‘A’. Westchester were the Jo Wigman Rally winners, defeating Maxfield Park Community Club 8-5. This occasion marks the beginning of Netball Jamaica’s 2016 season and the 23rd year of sponsorship by Jamaica National Building Society. Italy, Poland awarded 2016 IAAF events MONACO (AP): Italy has been chosen to host the world race walking team championships, while Poland has been awarded the World Junior (Under-20) championships after Russia was stripped of both events which will be held this year. The International Association of Athletics Federations announced yesterday that Rome will host the team walking event in May after beating off competition from Mexico, Ukraine and Ecuador. Bydgoszcz in Poland was the only bidder for the Under-20 event which takes place in July. The reallocation of the two competitions follows the suspension of Russia in November for widespread doping.last_img read more

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BOURNEMOUTH VS SWANSEA CITY

first_imgBOURNEMOUTH VS SWANSEA CITYSATURDAY, MARCH 12BOURNEMOUTH VS SWANSEA CITY, VITALITY STADIUMBournemouth are unbeaten away in the league in 2016, in five games, and return to the Vitality Stadium where they will hope to build on just four home wins. Swansea, meanwhile, have just three wins on the road and only 14 goals from 14 games. Swansea will hope midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson can maintain his good recent form; he has scored in six of his last 10 Premier League games.Villa reveal big lossesLONDON (AP) – Aston Villa’s new accounts have revealed losses of US$81 million as the club faces a costly relegation from the Premier League.In 2014-15, Aston Villa Football Club Limited generated US$160 million in revenue but saw administrative expenses soar by more than 56 percent to US$240 million.Villa reached the final of the FA Cup last season but finished 17th in the league, narrowly avoiding relegation last May.Now the former European champions are stranded at the bottom of the Premier League and facing relegation. American owner Randy Lerner is trying to sell the central England club.Timbers acquire Jack BarmbyPORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers have acquired midfielder Jack Barmby on loan from English Premier League club Leicester City.The 21-year-old Barmby spent the start of the 2015-16 season on loan with Rotherham United and Notts County. He was expected to arrive in Portland in the next several days.He was part of Manchester United’s development system and signed a professional contract with the team in 2013.Barmby also played on England’s youth national teams.last_img read more

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McLeod gets golden feeling

first_imgRIO DE JANIERO, Brazil: In 2011, Omar McLeod travelled to Lille, France, as part of a talented Jamaican team to the World Youth Championships. It was a busy championship for the then Manchester High School student, who took the track seven times during the five-day meet, ending with a fourth-place finish in the 110m hurdles and an eighth-place run in the 400m hurdles. A silver medal placing as a member of the sprint medley relay team was the highlight of what could be called a workmanlike, yet unspectacular performance. Sixty-one months later, McLeod is the Olympic champion in the 110m hurdles – becoming the first athlete from Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean to top the podium at the Olympics in the event. Not even he saw this coming. “I wasn’t thinking that this could be possible. I knew I loved hurdles, I did the 110m and the 400m hurdles so I knew I had that love for it, but never in a million years did I imagine myself being here, being a world champion and an Olympic champion in one year – that’s crazy,” said McLeod. Breaking records at ‘Champs’ while wearing Kingston College’s purple and white and dropping jaws on the US collegiate scene for the University of Arizona Razorbacks must have planted a seed. If those did not, a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships earlier this year and a dominating season on the Diamond League circuit certainly confirmed that the sprint hurdles had a new star. WORLD RECORD “Maybe,” he laughed when one reporter asked if he can become the ‘Usain Bolt of the sprint hurdles’. He is Jamaican, he is fast and he is a champion – three boxes checked. What’s missing right now is the 12.80 seconds world record, something many believe he is more than capable of breaking, but a target that McLeod is not in a hurry to achieve. “I’m young, I want to grow in the event. I was never thinking about gold medals, all I’m trying to do is develop in the event and have fun and win titles. It (world record) will come some day. I hope it does and when that happens I will embrace it,” McLeod said. Bolt’s influence – and that of other Jamaican standouts like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is, however, not lost on the 22-year-old. “You feed off them, (Usain) Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and all those athletes who you look up to, and you see them go out and represent themselves and their country and they have fun and win, and you want to do the same thing,” McLeod added. “It’s contagious, you just want to feel how it feels, and I have now felt it.”last_img read more

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Queen Elaine rules in Lausanne

first_imgLAUSANNE, Switzerland:Sprint queen Elaine Thompson was at her majestic best in the 100 metres at the Athletissma Lausanne Diamond League in Switzerland yesterday.The double Olympic sprint champion blew away her rivals to win in an impressive 10.78 seconds. With yesterday’s victory, Thompson took the lead in the event for the Diamond Trophy, jumping to 30 points, eight ahead of Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers on 22. Schippers did not compete at yesterday’s meet.It’s possible that Thompson could have gone faster. The athletes failed to hear a recall gun after a false start and they completed the distance. They were allowed a ten-minute break before the re-run and Thompson went well clear of her rivals. American Jenna Prandini was way back in second in 11.11, with third going to another American, Maroulake Akinosun, in 11.16. Veronica Campbell-Brown (11.27) and Christania Williams (11.48) finished sixth and eight, respectively.”There was a mix-up at the start and we had to do a re-run. It’s great to be able to produce 10.78 (after all that) and I am looking forward to the remainder of the season,” Thompson said. She added that she will not compete in Paris tomorrow.97TH SUB-10Asafa Powell gave Jamaica a second win at the meet. He won the men’s 100m in 9.96 seconds, the 97th sub-10 time of his career.Youssef Ben Meite of Cote d’Ivoire was second in 10.01, with third going to Joel Fearon of Great Britain in 10.05. Veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts was fifth in 10.24.”Another sub 10 seconds to my collection. That’s great. I am aiming for 100 and I am happy to be that fast despite not competing in an individual 100m for several weeks,” said Powell. The 33-year-old stated that he has at least two more years of competition left in him.There was top-three finishes for hurdler Omar McLeod and Julian Forte in their respective events.McLeod, the Olympic 110m hurdles champion, was edged out at the finish line by Olympic silver medallist, Orlando Ortega of Spain, who won in 13.11 seconds, McLeod was second in 13.12 with third going to Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, 13.25.”I will need to control my speed between the hurdles as it was very difficult today,” McLeod said. He added: “I will just have to wait for Zurich and Brussels Diamond League meets to try and close my season with a win.”Forte was third in the 200m in a season’s best 20.16 seconds. Churandy Martina of the Netherlands won in a National record of 19.85, with Alonso Edwards of Panama second in a season’s best 19.92.TRIPLE JUMPJamaica’s Kimberly Williams was sixth in the women’s triple jump with 13.75 metres, while Megan Simmonds was eighth in the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.15 seconds.Americans dominated the women’s hurdles events. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad won the 400m hurdles in 53.78 seconds while the 100m hurdles was won by world record holder Kendra Harrison in 12.42 seconds.In other field events, both Valrie Adams of New Zealand and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar improved on their second-place finishes in their events at the Olympics.Adams got the better of gold medallist Michelle Carter of the United States, winning the women’s shot put with a heave of 19.94m as Carter took second with 19.49m. Germany’s Christina Schwartz was third with 19.33m.Barshim topped the high jump with 2.35m. Robbie Grabarz of Great Britain and Eric Kynard of the United States both cleared 2.32m for second and third.Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas put a disappointing Olympics behind him to finish second in the men’s 400m in 44.75 just behind American Lashawn Meritt, who won in 44.50Action in the Diamond League will move to Paris tomorrow.last_img read more

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Hubert Lawrence | Times to remember

first_img LANDMARK YEAR 1987 was a landmark year for Jamaican athletics too. Andrew Parker and Winthrop Graham did a Jamaican 110-metre and 400-metre hurdles double at the Pan-Am Games. Later in the season, Raymond Stewart crossed the line in third place in the 100m at the World Championships behind Ben Johnson of Canada and American Carl Lewis. It was Jamaica’s first championships medal in the men’s 100m after Quarrie’s silver in 1976. It was a big deal that got bigger when Johnson was retroactively disqualified for drug use and Raymond’s bronze was upgraded to the silver. The 2017 track and field season will be conducted in a sea of change and reform and will climax at the London World Championships. Five years ago, in London, Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce led Jamaica to a glorious 12-medal haul at the Olympics. Now, as they do their background training, it’s possible that this may be the start of the end of one golden era with the likes of double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson charged with starting another. If another one does start in London next summer, one wonders if the old one will be forgotten. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. I’m still irked at the minimal recognition paid to Deon Hemmings this year for making history in 1996. Despite the efforts of those who came before her, Hemmings became the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic gold medal. She did it in style, setting two Olympic 400-metre hurdle records on her way to the top step of the podium. Her victims included silver and bronze medallists Kim Batten and Tonja Buford-Bailey, who had beaten her in the World Championships in a race where they both broke the world record held by 1992 Olympic champion Sally Gunnell. Jamaica first won Olympic gold in 1948 when Arthur Wint took the 400 over Herb McKenley, with George Rhoden beating McKenley in 1952 in the same one-lap sprint. They came back with repeat 200-metre finalist Les Laing to win another gold medal, this time in the 4×400 metre with a world record time of 3 minutes 03.9 seconds. The next Jamaican gold medal arrived much later, in 1976 when Don Quarrie placed first in the 200 metres. Deon Hemmings would be next. When she returned and took the silver medal behind Russian Irina Privalova in 2000, she became the most successful female 400-metre hurdler in Olympic history. That’s a remarkable achievement in an event where no one has ever won twice. It’s as if, in the glow of a Golden Era that started with Veronica Campbell-Brown winning the Olympic 200 metres in 2004, we almost forgot about Hemmings the history maker. In 1947, McKenley put up a season that has, at least, one result that has never been matched. The Pleasant Valley, Clarendon native ran so well that he was the fastest man in the world in the 100, the 200 and the 400 metres. He produced times of 10.3, 20.4 and 46.2 to earn this unparalleled distinction. Those are times some athletes would be proud of today. Herb did them on dirt tracks, wearing 9-pound spikes and wearing running suits that would flap around in the breeze. Had he been running in this era of synthetic tracks and featherweight running gear, there’s no telling what he and Wint and Rhoden and their peers like US repeat 800-metre champion Mal Whitfield would have been capable of. No one has done what Herb did, while Michael Johnson has set world records and won major championships at 100m, 200m and 400m. I was almost minded to zap a mental email to sprint guru Glen Mills asking him to see if that would give the incomparable Usain Bolt the motivation he needs to shift into top gear. That might be pushing it, especially with the 400-metre world record now even faster than where Johnson left if at 43.18 seconds. 43.03 by South African whiz Wayde van Niekerk is simply stunning.last_img read more

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