Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022 (93)

Reigning Winter Olympics skiathlon champion Simen Hegstad Kruger may be denied the opportunity to defend his title after testing positive for coronavirus.

The 28-year-old, who won gold in the men's 30 kilometres event in Pyeongchang four years ago, is the third member of Norway's cross-country skiing team to contract the virus.

Kruger had been much-fancied to add to his medal collection in Beijing, but it now seems unlikely he will get the chance to represent his country.

Speaking on Thursday, 10 days before Kruger's event takes place, Norway team doctor Oystein Andersen said: "We have had infections in the squad and took new PCR tests.

"We have feared that more would come, and unfortunately we have got another one. Unfortunately, it is Simen Hegstad Kruger who has taken a positive test today."

Female cross-country skiers Heidi Weng and Anne Kjersti Kalva are the other two Norwegian competitors to have tested positive.

All three athletes must now self-isolate in Italy, where the Norway team is based prior to flying out to China on January 30.

"It's an extreme situation," Andersen said of the spiralling coronavirus cases in the camp. "We have to limit the damage as best we can."

Team Canada have announced their men's ice hockey roster as they aim to secure a 10th gold medal at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

NHL players will not be competing in Beijing and so Canada's roster of 25 includes nine players from Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, with the rest made up of those playing in Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and other leagues in the United States.

One of the more notable names is former Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild player Eric Staal, who won gold at Vancouver 2010.

The 37-year-old revealed his delight at having been selected in a press release following the announcement.

"I have so many fond memories of competing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and winning a gold medal on home ice,'' Staal said. "The Olympics are the pinnacle of sport, and I know our entire team is grateful for the opportunity.''

The squad also contains three bronze medallists from PyeongChang 2018 in Maxim Noreau, Eric O'Dell, and Mat Robinson, as well as young players such as Mason McTavish and Owen Power, who was the first pick of the 2021 NHL draft by the Buffalo Sabres.

The ice hockey competition in Beijing is due to run from February 9-20.

The NHL confirmed last month that it would not be releasing players for the Games due to potential disruption to its schedule.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement: "The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL players to represent their countries and participate in a 'best on best' tournament.

"Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

"Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events - 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 - Olympic participation is no longer feasible.

"We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL players, but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone's best efforts.

"We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026."

Team Canada men's ice hockey roster for Beijing 2022

Goaltenders: Devon Levi, Edward Pasquale, Matt Tomkins

Defence: Mark Barberio, Jason Demers, Brandon Gormley, Alex Grant, Maxim Noreau, Owen Power, Mat Robinson, Tyler Wotherspoon

Forwards: Daniel Carr, Adam Cracknell, David Desharnais, Landon Ferraro, Josh Ho-Sang, Corban Knight, Jack McBain, Mason McTavish, Eric O'Dell, Eric Staal, Ben Street, Adam Tambellini, Jordan Weal, Daniel Winnik

The strength of the brand of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the value of partnering with Jamaica's governing body for Olympic and non-Olympic sports have not escaped stakeholders of the sporting world.

The latest global sport organization to initiate a partnership with the JOA is the International Jump Rope Union (IJRU) established in 1973 as the sole international governing body for the sport of jump rope and now with a membership of sixty-two countries spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceana.

At the recent virtual signing ceremony of a partnership agreement between the two leading organizations in sport, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, remarked that the execution "is more than an understanding and a union for it is a conviction on the part of two recognized sporting bodies that through sport and using sport an inspiring script for brotherhood beyond sport will be written."

With diversity, inclusion, innovation and excellence as its mantra, the IJRU values are in sync with the JOA which has been broadening its sport agenda in both the summer and winter sports. JOA Secretary General and CEO, Ryan Foster, stated that the "partnership between the Jamaica Olympic Association and the International Jump Rope Union is a testimony that the business of sport has expanded beyond what one considers traditional as the status quo for sport is a thing of the past as the JOA embraces this union which is born in the concept of sport for all."

IJRU President, Shaun Hamilton, hailed the historic signing and Jamaica's inclusion as "a tremendous moment" and in lauding the JOA said "Jamaica is a very influential space and place and we, the IJRU, are so happy that they will lead the way for other island nations to join us in this amazing community and family."

The sport of jump rope has seen tremendous growth in the last decade as a competitive and recreational sport among the youth of the global village, an achievement which Samuda acknowledged as giving them "yet another option in a sport that combines, skill, dexterity, flexibility, speed and kinetics with concentration, focus, patience and determination; that marries physical attributes with mental attitudes and aptitudes in such a marvelous way so as to create human symmetry and aesthetics."

As the JOA continues to fulfill its mission to engrain the values of sport in the Jamaican human landscape, Foster stated that "Sport is a way of life that not only transcends once unbreakable borders but impacts not only lives but livelihoods and the JOA is pleased to be a part of a journey which is rooted in the hallway of legacy creation that will form the basis from which many athletes will benefit for years to come."

Under the partnership agreement, both sporting bodies will collaborate in developing the sport in Jamaica with IJRU hosting technical webinars and physical workshops for officials, coaches and judges as well as providing sport-related equipment and requisites. Further the parties will co-operate in developing a Caribbean strategy for the sport utilizing Jamaica as a springboard and hub for developmental initiatives in the region.

"The JOA is determined to transform Jamrock to be a mecca for competition and recreational sport, sport education, sport entertainment and sport tourism," Samuda said.

The hosts of the ceremony were Novelette Harris, Member Relations Manager of the JOA, and Marsha Bonhart, American television, newspaper and radio and award-winning journalist.

History-making Jamaica Alpine skier, Alexander Benjamin, believes the country possesses the attributes to produce top-quality skiers on a consistent basis and hopes to be the first of many.

At 38 years old Benjamin made history for the Caribbean after qualifying for the event at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.  He is, however, the second skier to do so for Jamaica behind Errol Kerr who competed in Freestyle skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics where he finished in 9th position.  Kerr’s finish remains the best placing by a Caribbean athlete at any Winter Olympics.

Despite the fame garnered from the 1988 Winter Olympics four-man bobsled team, immortalised by the cult classic Cool Runnings, it is the Summer Olympics that have been the forte of the Caribbean island.

Led by Jamaican track and field legend Usain Bolt, Beijing was a happy hunting ground for the country’s Summer Olympic team in 2008, where they claimed 11 medals.  While Benjamin won’t necessarily expect that type of success, the newly minted Olympian believes there is plenty of talent to harness within the country and throughout the diaspora.

“What my story is all about is encouraging the next generation of Jamaicans to start before 32, so that we can have a real chance at medaling,” Benjamin told the SportsMax Zone.

“I’ve already identified three Jamaicans in New York, who started skiing when they were less than two years old, and they’ve been race training for the last 10 years.  So, they’re now 14 years old and these guys are going to come with force when we get to the 2026 Games,” he added.

“I think that we can get a really strong ski team from the pool of talent we already have in Jamaica and the diaspora.”

Benjamin has targeted being actively involved with the Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF).  Richard Salm the former president of the JSF died of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident last year.

 

 

A record number of coaches, who were last year registered by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for a rigorous hi-level coaches' course hosted by the Pan Am Sports Organization (PASO), successfully completed and are on course to achieve international certification.

Coaches from several sports including handball, badminton, judo, taekwondo, gymnastics, baseball, chess, volleyball, lawn tennis and track and field, completed, over six months, seven modules covering areas such as Coaching Philosophy and Leadership, Advanced Performance Planning, Energy Systems and Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Psychology, Advanced Injury Prevention, Recovery Strategies and High Performance Analysis.

"Capacity, capability and competency are the three Cs in the educational trilogy of the JOA's empowerment agenda for our coaches who are really the starters, drivers and finishers of the assets of sport development which are our athletes" President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, commented on the success of the initiative.

Participants across the spectrum of sport have lauded the initiative as "groundbreaking and a step by the JOA in the right direction."

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association, was pleased with the level of support from the sporting federations and remarked "the response to JOA's call was deafening as it was instructive and demonstrates that coaches want to be and have become a part of the transformation being led by the JOA."

The JOA last year inaugurated its historic, "Olympic Scholars," an athlete scholarship grant, under which several persons benefited from financial assistance in academic and career pursuits. "This is money giving currency and value to athletes and this is an investment the dividends of which are capitalizing sport and the human capital" Foster said.

With a strong bi-lateral partnership with the United States Sports Academy (USSA), a strategic alliance World Eleven Inc and the Argentine Football Association and protocols of co-operation with regional and international stakeholders, "the JOA is instilling a culture of excellence in sport education and bringing the sciences and technology of sport into the equation of success." Samuda remarked.

The JOA will later this year make a call for another coaches' hi-level course and it is expected that it will be oversubscribed as stakeholders in the sporting sector continue to seize opportunities which the governing body is creating.

Jamaica Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (JBSF) High Performance Director Mark Silver has lamented the circumstances that saw the country’s women’s two-woman team edged out of the Olympic qualifying positions.

Up to last month, the women’s team of Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and brake woman Audra Segree were favoured to be listed among the automatic qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, among the world’s top 12 teams.  By the time January rolled around, however, a conflation of unfortunate circumstances had changed things entirely.  According to Silver, things began to go wrong from the perspective of the team at Latvia's Sigulda World Series where there was a Covid-19 outbreak.

“We did everything we could.  We missed out because of the weather and believe it or not Covid,” Silver explained.

How it works is there are races across the world, after Christmas, the first race was in Latvia, and unfortunately, 7 athletes couldn’t race, which meant that athletes that would have finished lower down finished higher and received points that they wouldn’t have if the race was full of athletes,” he added. 

“In another race, a massive amount of snow meant that athletes who raced later benefited from the snow being clear.  Now, with the snow it's part of the sport, we expect that.”

In the final standing, the team finished tied with France for the final spot but were edge out via the tiebreak.  The team could still qualify for the Games if France or any of the other 10 teams above them Germany, Canada, United States, China, ROC, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, or Belgium are unable to take part in the event.

“With Covid, the girls finished third overall on the NAC, and before Christmas, I would have said I was confident and with the press release, had it been what we had expected and predicted they were probably our safest option,” he added 

“However, things that changed but that’s sports.  For each bad thing that goes against you sometimes we get good things and fingers crossed we were bang on points, and who knows maybe this time around luck will go with us.  Hopefully not at the expense of anyone else but hopefully the girls will get to live their dreams as well because they worked so hard.”

President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stokes, admits it is a special feeling to see the country’s four-man men’s team heading back to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 24 years.

Inescapably, whenever a Jamaica team qualifies for the Olympics, an inexorable link is made to the 1993 smash hit Cool Runnings, which starred the late John Candy and Doug E. Doug that went on to become a cult classic.

Unlike the movie, however, the hard yards put in to get to the Olympics, for the nation that has never seen a drop of snow, has always been real.

Stokes was a last-minute alternate when the team crashed the sled during the historic catapult down the ice in the four-man competition, in Calgary 1988, for the squad that would become immortalised in film.  He and others have pushed on ever since.  The team has subsequently appeared at another eight Olympic Games.  The men’s team, however, last appeared at the Winter sports spectacle in 2014 when a two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts finished in 24th place and have not taken part as a four-man unit since 1998.  In the upcoming Olympics, the men’s team will make a triumphant return, but the team has also qualified for the two-man event and women’s monobob to appear in a historic three events.

“It has a special place in my heart to know that we will be in the four-man event once again at the Olympics, having been a part of that team myself (In 1988) it gives me great satisfaction,” Stokes said.

“It's not something that we take for granted it's hard work every time to qualify and it is a huge step for us to have three teams at the Games this year.”

With a bit more luck it could have been four, with the women’s two-woman team finishing just outside of the automatic qualification spots based on a tiebreaker.  The team could still appear at the Games having secured the position as the first alternate, should any of the automatic qualifiers withdraw from the event.

 “The two-woman team of Audra Segree and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian were close.  They were in the qualifying spots for most of the way but in the last few weeks, I think some very questionable decisions were made when it comes to qualification.  I can’t say that I was surprised because these things happen, but it was unfortunate.”

The women’s team made its debut at the 2018 Winter Games with Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell taking part in the event.  Despite the possibility of that team being left out this time around, qualifying three teams is not a feat to be scoffed at.

“We have an absolutely outstanding program and we don’t take it for granted.  We have a strong administration and an elite coaching staff that are wanted all over the world.”

Former DJ Benjamin Alexander will become the first man to represent Jamaica, in skiing, at the Winter Olympics after qualifying for the Games last week.

Alexander will make his debut in the men’s giant slalom and qualified for the event after finishing seventh at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships on January 12.

Born to a Jamaican father and English mother, the athlete, now 38, did not take up the sport until 5 years ago while on a visit to Canada.  Now he will number among a handful of Jamaicans, 14 to be exact, that have made an appearance at the Games.  The journey was anything but simple.

"The biggest emotion I have right now is relief. I have put my entire life into this, my savings, my reputation, absolutely everything. It's taken 200% of my all to get here,” Alexander said.

Like so many, Alexander admits to being a fan of cult classic Cool Runnings, the now immortal story that paid tribute to the appearance of the Jamaica team at the 1988 Calgary Games.

"Had it not been for that movie and my friends making jokes about me being like Cool Runnings I don't think this plan would have been concocted,” Alexander said.

He hopes at the very least to be an inspiration.

"I don't want to take anything away from the people who started from the age of two.

"My story is all about participation and hopefully inspiring the next generation of Jamaican children to start earlier than 32."

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