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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Lionel Messi’s retirement from Argentina could hurt his legacy

first_imgLionel Messi’s surprising decision to stop playing for Argentina could damage his legacy with the national team and fans back home.If Messi sticks to his announcement, made in the heat of the moment shortly after Argentina’s penalty shootout loss to Chile in Sunday’s Copa America final, Argentina will be left dwelling on the fact that it was not able to win any significant title despite having one of the best players of all time.Many fans back home didn’t like the fact that he thrived in his adopted country Spain but failed to consistently produce brilliant performances with the national team.Some national team fans resorted to social media, calling their biggest star a quitter and saying that the 29-year-old would still be young enough to at least try to help Argentina win the coveted title in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.Messi moved to Barcelona in 2001 when he was 13 and never seemed to be as welcome at home as he was in Spain with the club that made him the star he is today. His connection with Barcelona grew stronger over the years and some fans back in Argentina were bothered by it, especially when success continued to elude the national team.”I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone, “Messi told the Argentine network TyC Sports not along after missing a penalty kick in the shootout. “I think there’s lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.”advertisementMessi was clear about his intentions but a change of heart cannot be ruled out considering he was speaking after just falling short of the title in heartbreaking fashion. “It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me,” Messi said.Messages sent to Messi’s agents seeking further comments on Monday were not immediately answered.If Messi doesn’t reconsider the decision and indeed ends his international career without a major title, he will fall further behind former great Diego Maradona in the always lively discussion in Argentina about who was the best player of all time, Maradona or Messi. (Also Read: Lionel Messi announces international retirement after Copa America loss)Some of Maradona’s best moments came while wearing the jersey of Argentina, which he led to the World Cup title in 1986 and to a runner-up finish in 1990. (Also Read: Did Diego Maradona trigger Lionel Messi’s shock decision to retire?)Messi played in three World Cups, taking the team to the final in 2014 but playing a lackluster game in the loss to Germany, when he missed an easy scoring chance early in the second half that could have changed the outcome.Messi’s only triumphs with Argentina came at the 2005 Youth Championship, a tournament played with under-20 squads, and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, when he helped the team win the gold medal. He lost three Copa America finals (2007, 2015 and 2016) and was on the team eliminated at home in the 2011 quarterfinals of the South American competition.”That’s it, I’ve already tried enough,’ he told TyC. “It pains me more than anyone not being able to be a champion with Argentina, but that’s the way it is. It wasn’t meant to be.”With Barcelona, it has been nothing but success for Messi, who led the Spanish giants to four Champions League titles and three Club World Cup trophies. He also won eight Spanish league titles, scoring 453 competitive goals in 531 games, including a league-record 312.He is Argentina’s career leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 international appearances.  (Also Read: Lionel Messi’s journey: Goals, heartbreak and unparalleled greatness)Argentina’s next competitive match is a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in September, but now it’s uncertain what kind of team it will have then, as other players from Messi’s generation may also decide to leave the national team.Messi, meanwhile, is expected to return to preseason with Barcelona in Spain, where it should be another successful season for him at the club level.last_img read more

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Salman has always been so nice to me: Sunny Leone

first_imgMumbai, Jun 26 (PTI) Bollywood actress Sunny Leone says superstar Salman Khan has always been courteous and welcoming to her and she admires that in him.Before entering Bollywood, Sunny had appeared on Salman-hosted hit reality show “Bigg Boss”. Now, she will be seen opposite his brother, Arbaaz Khan, in Rajeev Walias romantic musical “Tera Intezaar”.”I have met Salman Khan a handful of times but I have spent a lot of time with Arbaaz. I know how great a person Arbaaz is, and I assume that his whole family and brothers are just as loving and caring. And Salman has always been so nice and always has gone out of his way to say hello to me and I admire that so much,” Sunny told PTI.After doing a cameo appearance in Shah Rukh Khan starrer “Raees” and Sonankshi Sinhas “Noor”, Sunny has now signed up for a special appearance in a song in Ajay Devgn-Emraan Hashmi starrer “Baadshaho”. She will be seen shaking leg with Emraan in a special song.”I liked the song and getting a chance to work with Emraan was a great experience. He is very respectful and is a very nice human being,” she says.”It was so much fun (doing the song) and I hope people enjoy watching us together on screen. God willing I (hope) will get a chance to work with him again in a film acting opposite him,” she adds.The 36-year-old actress will be seen sporting an ethnic look for the song.advertisementHaving worked alongside Shah Rukh, Akshay Kumar and other, the “Ragini MMS 2″ actress says she is always happy to be working with stars.”I base my decisions on whether to say yes or no to the work if its exciting or not and also my own personal quest to work with these stars. If I can help them in any way then I am always willing. I dont know how long my journey will be but at least when I look back on my career or life I can say I have worked with some of the most exceptionally talented people in Bollywood,” she adds. PTI KKP JUR DK JCHlast_img read more

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